31 Vibrant Puerto Rican Slang Words to Add Color to Your Spanish
How can you add a little extra color to your Spanish conversations?
It’s easy. Put the textbook down for a minute, and start picking up some new Spanish slang.
On today’s slang agenda, we have the glorious, vivid slang of Puerto Rico.
So dive in and prepare to learn some great words and phrases!
- 1. Boricua
- 2. Janguiar / janguear / hanguear
- 3. Broki
- 4. Tirar
- 5. Acho / chacho
- 6. A mi, plín
- 7. Tiraera / tiradera
- 8. Al garete
- 9. Nebuloso
- 10. Chavos
- 11. Gufiao
- 12. Gufear
- 13. Bregar Chicky Starr
- 14. ¡Mano!
- 15. Wepa
- 16. Chévere
- 17. Guagua
- 18. Pana
- 19. Matraca
- 20. Jeva
- 21. Quillao
- 22. Guayarse
- 23. Chorro
- 24. Pégate
- 25. Chulería
- 26. Tíguere
- 27. Pelotero
- 28. Tumbao
- 29. Pa’ lante
- 30. Wao
- 31. Babilla
- What Makes Puerto Rican Slang Unique?
- Why Do You Need to Know Puerto Rican Slang?
- Resources for Learning Puerto Rican Slang
- And One More Thing…
Boricua is a term used to mean “Puerto Rican.” Before the Spanish arrived on the island now called “Puerto Rico,” the indigenous Taíno people called the island Borikén (also spelled Boriquén and Borinquen).
Boricua is simply a name for the local people derived from the island’s original name, but let’s face facts—it’s just more interesting than puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican).
2. Janguiar / janguear / hanguear
While the spelling varies, janguiar, janguear and hanguear are all slang for “to hang out.” Use it to talk about hanging out with friends or just relaxing.
You’ll notice it sounds a lot like “hang.” That’s because this slang word is an Anglicism and was derived from the American expression “hang out.”
Broki is Puerto Rican slang for “buddy.”
Again, this word may look familiar. That’s because it’s derived from the popular English-language slang “bro.” The “ki” suffix makes it diminutive, making the term more affectionate.
You probably already know tirar as a verb meaning “to throw” or “to throw away.” However, in Puerto Rican slang, it can also mean “to hit on,” “to diss” or “to shoot” (as in a person).
Given its diverse meanings, try to be careful with your use of tirar. Context is important, and slipping up could come across as a threat.
5. Acho / chacho
Acho and chacho are both short for muchacho (guy). Alternately, it can also mean “what’s up?”
However, these slang words are usually used between thoughts, similar to how we use the word “well…” in English to transition between ideas or change subjects.
6. A mi, plín
A mi, plín literally means “to me, plink.” Still unclear? Well, “plink” usually means “to shoot at for fun.” Think “Plinko” on “The Price is Right.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, a mi, plín usually means “I don’t care.” It’s a bit more colorful than no me importa (I don’t care).
7. Tiraera / tiradera
Tiraera or tiradera is the noun form of the verb tirar. While the slang tirar can mean “to diss,” tiraera or the alternate spelling tiradera refers to a diss, a verbal feud or the act of purposefully antagonizing.
Tiraera or tiradera is also often used to describe feuds between rappers or people. For instance, you might say Kanye West and Taylor Swift have a tiraera/tiradera.
8. Al garete
Al garete originally referred to when a ship was adrift. It’s used as an adjective. In Puerto Rican slang, it has a wide variety of meanings. It can mean “wild,” “off the rails,” “disastrous” or “out of it.”
For instance, if you hosted a party and it went poorly or got out of control, you might say “la fiesta se fue al garete” (“the party went off the rails” or “the party was disastrous” or “the party was wild”).
Nebuloso literally means “cloudy,” “foggy” or “vague.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, nebuloso can also mean “untrustworthy.” It’s kind of like the English slang word “shady” in both its literal and figurative meanings.
In Puerto Rico and its neighbors Cuba and the Dominican Republic, chavos is slang for “money.”
Don’t confuse it with chavo, which means “guy” in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.
This one’s a good example of the pinballing paths slang words can take as they develop. Gufiao is a contraction of gufeado, which is derived from the English word “goofy.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, gufiao actually means “cool” or “awesome.”
Like gufiao, gufear is derived from English. However, in this instance, gufear means “to goof around” or “to joke around.”
13. Bregar Chicky Starr
Bregar is the verb for “to struggle.” For this phrase, it’s used with an indirect object (le) to refer to the person being affected. Chicky Starr, meanwhile, is a Puerto Rican wrestler, cast as the antagonist in the ring.
In slang, bregarle Chicky Starr means “to play dirty with someone,” “to betray someone” or “to turn on someone.” It’s a humorous but negative phrase. And it certainly is entertaining and colorful!
If you hear someone say mano, your immediate thought will probably be that they mean “hand.” Totally understandable. Mano usually does mean “hand.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, the exclamation ¡Mano! is an abbreviation of hermano (brother). Indeed, in slang it’s used to mean “brother.” However, as an exclamation, ¡Mano! roughly means “Hey, bro!”
Wepa is a versatile word that Puerto Ricans use to express excitement, joy or surprise. It’s often used to greet someone or celebrate a positive moment. You can use it to convey enthusiasm about something.
Chévere is a popular slang term used to mean “cool,” “great” or “fantastic.”
It’s commonly used to express approval or admiration for someone or something. It’s a versatile word that can be used in various contexts to convey a positive sentiment.
Guagua is the word Puerto Ricans use to refer to a bus or any form of public transportation. The term is derived from the English word “bus” and has become widely used on the island.
Visit this post next for more transportation vocabulary in Spanish!
Pana is a term used to refer to a “close friend” or “buddy.” It’s an affectionate way to address someone and is commonly used among friends.
It reflects a sense of camaraderie and friendship, so try it on your Puerto Rican friends later!
Matraca is a slang term used to describe someone who talks excessively or talks a lot without saying much of substance. It can refer to a person who is long-winded, often going on tangents or rambling.
The word is derived from the sound of a noisy rattle or clapper, symbolizing the constant chatter of someone who loves to hear themselves talk.
Jeva is a slang term used to refer to a girl or girlfriend. It’s similar to the English slang “chick” or “girl.” It’s a casual and familiar way to talk about a female acquaintance.
Quillao is a term used to describe someone who is angry or annoyed. It’s derived from the Spanish word “quilla,” which means “anger” or “annoyance.”
It’s often used to express frustration or irritation towards a person or situation.
Guayarse is a colloquial term used to mean “getting hurt” or “injured.” It’s commonly used when someone experiences physical pain or sustains an injury.
It can also be used metaphorically to describe emotional or psychological pain.
Chorro is a word that Puerto Ricans use to mean “a lot” or “plenty.” It’s often used to describe a large quantity of something.
For example, if someone has a chorro of money, it means they have a lot of money.
Pégate is an invitation or request for someone to come over or join a group.
It’s literally translated as “come closer” or “get closer,” so it can also have a flirty meaning, like when you’re dancing, example. Ricky Martin, a Puerto Rican singer, also has a song called “Pégate.”
Chulería is a term used to describe someone’s swagger or confidence. It refers to a person’s style, charm, and self-assurance. It can also be used to describe something as cool or impressive.
Keep in mind that in other Spanish speaking countries the meaning of this word can be negative, more in the direction of “stubbornness” or “insolence.”
Tíguere is a slang term derived from tigre (tiger) that means “streetwise person,” often associated with someone who is resourceful, street-smart, and knows how to handle themselves in various situations.
It’s similar to the English slang “street smart” or “wise guy.”
Pelotero is a slang term used to refer to a baseball player. Baseball is a popular sport in Puerto Rico, and this term is commonly used to talk about players or the sport itself.
It’s derived from the Spanish word “pelota,” which means ball.
Check out this post for the complete list of sports vocabulary in Spanish!
Tumbao is a term used to describe a rhythm or groove, particularly in music. It refers to the catchy beat or flow of a song that makes you want to dance or move.
It’s commonly used to appreciate and acknowledge the musicality and rhythm of a piece.
29. Pa’ lante
Pa’ lante is a shortened form of the Spanish phrase “para adelante,” which means “forward” or “ahead.”
It’s commonly used in Puerto Rican slang to encourage someone to keep going, persevere, or move forward in life despite challenges or setbacks.
Wao is an exclamation used to express surprise, astonishment, or admiration.
It’s similar to the English “wow” and is commonly used in Puerto Rican Spanish to convey a sense of wonder or amazement. It’s a short and straightforward expression that conveys strong emotions.
Babilla is a term used to mean “bravery,” “courage” or “machismo.” You can use this to refer to a person by changing it to babilloso.
What Makes Puerto Rican Slang Unique?
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Why does that matter to Puerto Rican slang?
Well, perhaps because of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the U.S., a lot of Puerto Rican slang words and phrases are Anglicisms, or words/phrases borrowed from the English language.
Anglicisms can be useful for English-speakers learning the language, because they feel familiar and are therefore easy to remember.
While these Anglicisms can be intriguing and appealing, Puerto Rican slang has more to offer than just Anglicisms alone.
Puerto Rican slang also often focuses on abbreviating longer words in interesting ways. This can be confusing for non-native speakers, but it leads to a more dynamic and exciting language.
Why Do You Need to Know Puerto Rican Slang?
Getting comfortable with Puerto Rican slang will open windows to a new facet of the Spanish language and to the everyday culture of the island. Here’s how:
- You’ll sound local. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico and don’t want to stand out, learning Puerto Rican slang is one of the quickest ways to sound local. This is a great way to experience more authentic culture rather than always being treated as a tourist.
- You’ll understand the Spanish language in greater depth. Learning different facets of the Spanish language such as Puerto Rican slang will help you see the diverse and dynamic nature of the language.
- You’ll be able to communicate more easily with Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S. There are a number of large Puerto Rican communities throughout the continental U.S. Learning Puerto Rican slang will help you communicate with Puerto Ricans near you!
- Puerto Rican slang is just plain fun. There are some very interesting and colorful terms and phrases. You might work them into your regular Spanish vocabulary even if you aren’t communicating with Puerto Ricans. Yes—Puerto Rican slang is that good.
Resources for Learning Puerto Rican Slang
If you have a limitless appetite for Puerto Rican slang and 31 words and phrases aren’t enough, here are some helpful resources you can use to expand your vocabulary.
- Dialecto Boricua is a Spanish-language blog dedicated to the dialect of Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico.
- “Speaking Boricua: A Practical Guide to Puerto Rican Spanish” and “Speaking Phrases Boricua: A Collection of Wisdom and Sayings From Puerto Rico” are two great selections from author Jared Romey that cover Puerto Rican slang.
- FluentU covers regional accents and dialects from all over. So when you learn with FluentU videos, you can be sure your Spanish knowledge is well-rounded.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
If you’ve enjoyed learning these Puerto Rican slang words and would like to learn more, check out these posts for more slang from other Spanish-speaking countries!
- Argentinian slang
- Bolivian slang
- Chilean slang
- Colombian slang
- Costa Rican slang
- Cuban slang
- Dominican slang
- Ecuadorian slang
- Guatemalan slang
- Honduran slang
- Mexican slang
- Nicaraguan slang
- Panamanian slang
- Paraguayan slang
- Peruvian slang
- El Salvadorian slang
- Uruguayan slang
- Venezuelan slang
Congratulations on learning some intriguing Puerto Rican slang. To learn more, enjoy time in Puerto Rico or hang out with Puerto Ricans near you!
And One More Thing…
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