spanish slang

Guay! 44 Popular Spanish Slang Phrases You Should Know

Want to step up your Spanish game and sound more like a native? Then you better get to know your Spanish slang!

Most traditional Spanish courses won’t teach you much slang, but we have compiled 44 of the most common Spanish slang terms to help you fit in!

Contents

Global Spanish Slang

1. Vamo

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Let’s go

Slang meaning: Let’s go

Explanation: This is the shortened version of vamos (we go) or vámonos (let’s go). It’s just a quicker way to get the crowd moving!

Example: Want to get the group going without sounding too harsh? Try ¡Vamo! (Let’s go!) as a friendly, slang way to start everyone moving!

2. Tío/a

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Uncle (Aunt)

Slang meaning: Friend, guy, girl

Explanation: One of my young Spanish friends was always talking about this tío (uncle) and that tía (aunt) and I was convinced he had a huge family.

WRONG! Tío and tía can really be used as a term of endearment for anyone older than you.

Example: You’re sitting on a bench in Retiro park watching the world go by and your friend says:

¡Eh, tía! ¿Qué tal? (Hey girl! How are you?)

3. Chulo

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Neat 

Slang meaning: Cool or attractive

Explanation: In Spain, it’s common to use the word chulo (neat, lovely) in the place of bonito (pretty). It can also be used to say that something’s “cool.”

On the other hand, if you use chulo to refer to a person in Spain, it can have a negative connotation, that the person’s conceited.

In Latin America chulo takes on a slightly different meaning as it is usually refers to an attractive man. 

Example: If you give your Spanish friend a gift and they say “¡qué chulo!” (how cool!), you’ve probably done a good job on the gift.

If you are in Mexico, you might hear a girl call her boyfriend “papí chulo” (hot stuff).

4. Vale

spanish slang

Literal meaning: “It’s worth it” or a ticket or coupon

Slang meaning: Okay or yes

Explanation: If someone tells you something and you want to confirm that you’ve heard, say vale (okay).

You can also use it in place of the word “yes” when someone asks you a question.

Example: Imagine you’re cooking at a friend’s house and can’t find the salt. Your friend says while pointing: “La sal está allí.” (The salt is there.) You say:¡Vale! (Okay!)

5. Wey

spanish slang

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: Dude

Explanation: Wey is used to call someone dude and is used widely in the Spanish-speaking world.

Example: ¿Wey, quieres ir al cine? (Dude, want to go to the movies?)

6. Cuatro gatos

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Four cats

Slang meaning: Small gathering

Explanation: This one is easy to remember and can boost conversational skills a ton because it’s so versatile.

Use it when trying to say there was a small number of people present.

Example: ¿La fiesta? Eran cuatro gatos. (The party? There were just a few of us.)

7. Papa frita

spanish slang

Literal meaning: French fry

Slang meaning: Dumb person

Explanation: This term is useful for moments when either you or someone you know makes a silly mistake. It teases, lightens a situation and generally makes people smile.

Example: Papa frita, vas por el camino equivocado. (Dummy, you’re going the wrong way.)

8. Mosca

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Fly

Slang meaning: An annoying person

Explanation: We’ve all dealt with annoying flies that just won’t leave you alone. This is why people often use the same word to describe a person that’s annoying!

Example: No le hagas caso. ¡Es una mosca! (Don’t listen to him. He’s annoying!)

9. Pasar el mono a pelo

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Pass the monkey bareback

Slang meaning: Go cold turkey

Explanation: This refers to stopping something suddenly, like a bad habit or even a luxury that may be eating away at a budget.

Example: Él no está bebiendo cerveza hoy. Él esta tratando de pasar el mono a pelo. (He’s not drinking beer today. He’s trying to go cold turkey.)

10. Mano

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Short for hermano

Slang meaning: Homie, bro

Explanation: Since this is the abbreviated version of the Spanish word for brother, it makes sense that this is like saying “bro.”

Example: Vamos al partido de baloncesto esta noche, mano. (We’ll go to the basketball game tonight, homie.)

11. Babosa/o

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Slug

Slang meaning: Dimwit, dumb blonde

Explanation: babosa is a dimwit or someone who’s gullible. This ends up being used a lot in reference to a dumb blonde.

Example: Le dije que los perros tienen cinco patas, ella es una babosa(I told her that dogs have five legs, she’s so gullible.)

12. Un depre

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Depression

Slang meaning: A downer

Explanation: You probably know a person who always has something negative to say no matter what, right? Well, that person is a depre.

Example: No me gusta estar con Miguel, es un depre(I don’t like being with Miguel, he is a downer.)

13.Porfa

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Abbreviated “por favor”

Slang meaning: Please

Explanation: This is a way to say please in a quicker manner. Since it’s just the shortened version of “por favor,” the literal and slang meanings are the same.

Example: Me gustaría un café, porfa. (I’d like a coffee, please.)

Slang from Spain

14. Chaval(a)

spanish slang

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: Kid, youngster

Explanation: I like to think of chaval and chavala as the younger versions of tío and tía.

While you’re in Spain, you’ll likely come across gaggles of teens loitering in the street… yep, those are chavales (young people).

Examples: You might hear an old person say, “los chavales hoy no tienen buenos modales.” (The young people today don’t have good manners.)

15. Me cae gordo

spanish slang

Literal meaning: I fall fat

Slang meaning: They bother me

Explanation: This Spanish phrase isn’t for calling someone fat! Me cae gordo means that you don’t like someone or they rub you the wrong way.

You usually use this phrase when it’s a first impression or a gut feeling.

Example: Mi nuevo jefe me cae gordo(My new boss bothers me.)

16. Me importa un pimiento

Literal meaning: It’s as important as a pepper

Slang meaning: It doesn’t matter

Explanation: While we don’t have a phrase exactly like this in English, you can probably gather its meaning: that you don’t really care, or it isn’t worth your time or effort.

Use this phrase when you’re talking about an event or a specific item.

Example: La boda me importa un pimiento(I could care less about the wedding.)

17. Ser la leche

spanish slang

Literal meaning: To be the milk

Slang meaning: That’s sick

Explanation: Ser la leche can mean both being really amazing or being awful.

It may seem bizarre that the exact same phrase can mean exactly two opposite things, but we do the same in English. 

Think of the slang word “sick,” which can either mean disgusting (negative) or really cool (positive).

Examples: “¡Vamos al concierto de Bad Bunny!” (We’re going to the Bad Bunny concert!) “¡Es la leche!” (That’s sick!)

18. Mala pata

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Bad paw

Slang meaning: Bad luck

Explanation: Sometimes people carry around a rabbit’s foot for good luck. If you have a bad paw, you’re carrying around bad luck instead of good luck like a rabbit’s foot. 

Example: Son las cinco y acaba de entrar un cliente, qué mala pata(It’s five o’clock and a customer just walked in, what bad luck.)

19. Ir a tapear

spanish slang

Literal meaning: To go for tapas

Slang meaning: To go for tapas

Explanation: Tapas are a type of appetizer that’s specific to Spain. When someone wants to ir a tapear it means that they want to go out and get tapas

Tapear isn’t really even a verb anywhere but in Spain.

Example: ¿Vamos a tapear esta noche? (Are we going to eat tapas tonight?)

20. Ser majo(a)

spanish slang

Literal meaning: A Madrid resident from a popular neighborhood known for its colorful dress and arrogant attitudes (18th and 19th centuries).

Slang meaning: To be nice

Explanation: If a Spaniard says that you’re majo, they mean that you’re simpático (nice). 

Example: María siempre ayuda a sus amigas cuando están tristes. Ella es tan maja. (Maria always helps her friends when they’re sad. She’s so nice.)

21. Los Viejos

spanish slang

Literal meaning: The elderly

Slang meaning: Parents

Explanation: Young people in Spain sometimes refer to their parents as los viejos (the elderly) in the presence of friends and, depending on their relationship with their parents, a few might also use it to directly address their parents.

In these cases, it’s more like saying “my old man” in an affectionate and playful way.

Example: “Quiero salir pero mis viejos me obligan a quedarme y cuidar a mi sobrino.” (I want to go out but my parents told me I have to stay and look after my nephew.)

22. Estar como una cabra

spanish slang

Literal meaning: To be like a goat

Slang meaning: To be crazy

Explanation: If you have a batty great aunt who hoards tinfoil, you might refer to her (lovingly, of course) with estar como una cabra (to be crazy).

This word will always be feminine, no matter who it’s used for.

Example: Mi abuelo está como una cabra. Piensa que los extraterrestres visitan su casa cada domingo. (My grandpa is crazy. He thinks that aliens visit his house every Sunday.)

23. Guay

spanish slang

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: Cool/great

Explanation: If you like something because it’s cool, awesome or you get the picture… you can say that it’s guay (cool).

You can also use it as a more excited “okay” or “great.”

Examples: If you’re showing off your fancy new iPhone, your friends might say ¡Qué guay!” (How cool!)

24. Molar

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Molar (tooth)

Slang meaning: To like

Explanation: Something that’s mola is something cool. If you know the verb gustar (to like) then you’re on your way to using molar (to like). 

Examples: If you want to say that you fancy something (or someone), you’d say, for instance: Maria me mola.(I like Maria.)

25. Comerse el coco

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Eat your coconut

Slang meaning: Overthink

Explanation: When you have something on your mind and you think constantly about it, this is the term that’ll apply to that situation. 

Example: Se está comiendo el coco y se está volviendo loco. (He’s overthinking and driving himself crazy.)

26. ¡Qué pasada!

spanish slang

Literal meaning: That last!

Slang meaning: Cool or very good

Explanation: If you travel to Spain, you may hear this snappy expression a lot. This basically means that something is cool or that it’s very good. 

Example: ¿Compraste zapatos nuevos a la venta? ¡Qué pasada! (You bought new shoes on sale? Very good!)

27. Cotilla

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Gossip

Slang meaning: A busybody or person who gossips

Explanation: This refers to someone who is gossiping or someone who needs to know everyone’s business and is adept at poking into things that aren’t any of their concern.

Example: Esa mujer es una cotilla. Ella siempre está escuchando secretos. (That woman is a busybody. She’s always listening to secrets.)

28. Ir a su bola

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Go to their ball

Slang meaning: Do their own thing

Explanation: If someone decides to ir a su bola it means that they’re going to do their own thing.

There’s a slight negative connotation associated with this phrase, as if the person is going against logic or not being considerate of others in their decision to do their own thing.

Example: Ella no viene a nuestras fiestas, ella va a su bola(She doesn’t come to our parties, she does her own thing.)

29. Qué fuerte

spanish slang

Literal meaning: How strong!

Slang meaning: Wow!

Explanation: Fuerte in English is “strong.” In this case, fuerte is a way of showing surprise, awe or shock. Basically the phrase means, “Wow!” and can be either positive or negative.

Example: You might see this a lot in gossip: “¿Sabes que Raúl dejó a su mujer por su secretaria?” (Did you know that Raul left his wife for his secretary?) ¡Qué fuerte!” (Wow!)

Slang from Latin America

30. Mula

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Mule

Slang meaning: Dumb or stupid

Explanation: This term is used in Guatemala to reference someone’s lack of intelligence.

It isn’t a very nice slang word that would be used to make new friends but you might use it with people you’re familiar with.

Example: When someone says something ridiculous, they might hear ¡Mula! (Stupid!).

31. ¡Que chilero!

spanish slang

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: Cool or very good

Explanation: This sweet little Guatemalan phrase pretty much covers anything that’s agreeable.

Use it to show appreciation for food, shopping, events or whatever else comes your way!

Example: If your friends say, “Vamos a nadar” (“We’re going swimming”), your reply might be “¡Que chilero!” (“Cool!”).

32. Chido

spanish slang

Literal meaning: How cool!

Slang meaning: Very good

Explanation: In Mexico, use this to say something is very good. 

Example: ¿Le gusta la comida? ¡Qué chido! (He likes the food? Very good!)

33. Ese

spanish slang

Literal meaning: That

Slang meaning: Homie

Explanation: There’s not much explanation for this one, but you will certainly hear it a lot in Mexico!

Example: Ese, nos vemos en el club. (Homie, I’ll see you at the club.)

34. ¡Oralé!

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Hello

Slang meaning: Okay, hurry up, nice

Explanation: This one can be used for quite a few situations. It can be used when you’re in a hurry to say “let’s go.” It can be used to agree with something or it can be used to express your surprise. 

Example: “Necesito ir a la playa por favor.” (I need to go to the beach please.) “¡Orale!” (Let’s go!)

35. Galla

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Rooster

Slang meaning: Girl

Explanation: Gallo (rooster) has been turned into a feminine form to refer to a girl in Chile. If you use this word you might just sound like a local in Chile!

Example: Ella es una linda galla. (She’s a cute girl.)

36. Bácan

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Cool

Slang meaning: Cool

Explanation: This is what you’ll hear for “cool” in Columbia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

Example: “Ha ganado tres medallas.” (He has won three medals.) “¡Bácan!” (Cool!)

37. ¿Qué hubo?

spanish slang

Literal meaning: What was there?

Slang meaning: What’s up?

Explanation: In Colombia, as in many other parts of the world, it’s common for people to greet each other with the expression “What’s up?” This Colombian slang is just an offbeat twist on the common phrase.

Example: If you’re traveling in Colombia and meet up with someone you know, try saying “¿Qué hubo?” to sound like a local!

38. Chévere

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Great!

Slang meaning: Cool!

Explanation: Yet another way to say “cool.” This one is most common in Venezuela and Columbia!

Example: Podemos reunirnos en el restaurante. (We can meet at the restaurant.) ¡Chevere! (Cool!)

39. Nena

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Baby

Slang meaning: Girl

Explanation: Puerto Rican slang is vivid and often descriptive, but one of its simplest words is nena (girl). This can reference almost any female, from toddler age up into adulthood.

However, calling someone who is of advanced years, like someone’s mother or grandmother, this would be disrespectful. 

Example: ¡Te ves hermosa hoy, nena! (You look beautiful today, girl!)

40. Pura vida

Literal meaning: Pure life

Slang meaning: Good vibes, simple life

Explanation: This Costa Rican phrase sums up the way of life in this beautiful country perfectly.

Costa Ricans value kindness and simplicity and use this phrase as a greeting or a way to wish you a happy life.

Example: Say you walk into a shop, you may be greeted with “¡Pura vida!”

41.Buena Onda

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Good wave

Slang meaning: Good vibe

Explanation: This is a way for you to say “good vibes” or “cool” in Argentina and Uruguay.

Example: Tiene la buena onda(You have a good vibe.)

42. Vaina 

spanish slang

Literal meaning: Scabbard

Slang meaning: Thing, stuff

Explanation: This word is very popular in the Dominican Republic. It is used to say “thing” or “stuff.”

It can be used in several context but keep in mind that it is usually not a positive term, although it doesn’t always have to be negative either.

Example: ¿Qué es esa vaina? (What is that thing?)

43. ¿Qué bolá?

spanish slang

Literal meaning: What’s ball?

Slang meaning: What’s up?

Explanation: This is a very common greeting in Cuba. You would often use this phrase instead of como estás when asking how someone is.

Example: ¿Buenos días, qué bolá? (Good morning, what’s up?)

44. Offi

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: Okay, sure

Explanation: This is a way just to say okay and is most often used in Panama.

Example: ¿Quieres ir a tomar un café? (Do you want to go for coffee?) Offi. (Sure.)

How to Practice Spanish Slang

The best way to pick up slang is through listening to native speakers and how they use slang themselves.

Slang is pretty easy to find in authentic Spanish media, especially in movies, TV shows and web videos, which are all widely accessible online.

There’s also the authentic video library on the language learning program FluentU, in which you can search for words and find clips that contain them. Each video has interactive captions that explain words in context, including slang and colloquialisms. 

You can access FluentU online or through the Android and Apple apps. 

 

With these phrases, you’ll be sounding like a local, so get practicing!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Close