¡Epa! 11 Venezuelan Slang Terms to Help You Fit in With the Locals
If Venezuela is on your list of must-visit destinations, you might be craving more local vocabulary.
Venezuelan slang is filled with linguistic flavor and culture.
So today we’re going to learn some Venezuelan slang. Let’s go!
- 1. Chamo/Chama
- 2. Chévere
- 3. Tengo ratón.
- 4. ¡Está peluo!
- 5. Chivo
- 6. ¡Coño!
- 7. Bolo
- 8. ¡Epa!
- 9. Perico
- 10. Echar los perros
- 11. ¡Ladilla!
- Why It’s Important to Learn Venezuelan Slang
- How to Practice Venezuelan Slang
Basically, it means “dude,” except it can become a feminine word, too.
This is one of the phrases heard many times each day, so learn it and use it with friends, acquaintances and even children, but maybe not so much with your employer or your grandmother!
Want someone to catch the latest film with you?
¿Quieres ir al cine, chamo? (Do you want to go to the movies, dude?)
This means nice, good, great, awesome—it’s a word to express a positive thought about a person, place or event.
Want to express how you feel about anything good?
There’s a positive vibe among Venezuelan amigos, so this word is used all the time. Like, all the time.
The movie you just saw? Chévere. The black bean tacos you just inhaled? Chévere.
We all know that giving authentic compliments is a sure way to make new friends, so use the word often.
3. Tengo ratón.
Literally, “I have a mouse,” but don’t worry—there are no mice involved!
This tidbit is slang for “I’m hungover,” so use this if you’ve downed too many cervezas (beers) the previous evening.
4. ¡Está peluo!
“It’s hairy”—minus the hair.
If you claim ¡Está peluo! (the fast version of ¡está peludo!) you’re saying that whatever you’re trying to do is difficult.
This could apply to changing your currency, getting your coffee the way you like it or trying to cross the street before getting run over.
So if it’s not easy, feel free to mutter, “¡Está peluo!”
Here’s a fun example of elevating something pretty ordinary to a place of linguistic honor.
If you’re up on your farm animals, you’ll know that this literally means “goat.” That’s right, the animal notorious for head-butting and can-eating.
But don’t look for a bale of hay if you hear, “El chivo tiene hambre.”
Used this way, chivo refers to a person in power. A boss. So this statement means the boss is hungry.
How skilled are you at finding the best restaurant in town?
This expression isn’t used only in Venezuela, but it’s so widespread and used so freely on the streets that it deserves a spot on this list.
¡Coño! translates to “Damn it!”
Okay, I can’t lie. We’re all adults here, right? Sometimes, it means a little worse.
If you want the nitty gritty on this colorful slang and a load of others, check out Gritty Spanish.
It’s a really fun resource for common—and sometimes, a bit vulgar—Spanish expressions that your high school teacher never taught you.
In Venezuela, the currency is bolivar. So bolo is a slang term for money.
It’s best to have some in your pockets—currency exchanging can be dicey in a country experiencing upheaval.
Note that in Spanish countries outside Venezuela, this word has many different meanings.
In some places, saying “Voy a mi bola” means “I’m going to go it alone,” which can be seen as antisocial.
Bolo is also a slang term for “penis” in many Spanish-speaking countries, so be certain you’re referencing your wallet correctly when you use the term.
In a market, let the merchant know you have enough cash to pay for an item by saying, “Tengo bolo para pagarlo.” (“I have enough money to pay for it.”)
This bit of lingo is so versatile, you’ll use it several times each day.
It’s the casual greeting English speakers know as “Hey!” or “Hi!”
In a restaurant and need to grab the waitress’ attention? Wave your hand, meet her gaze and say, “¡Epa!”
Walking down the street and see a friend? A smile and “¡Epa!” does the job.
“¿Tienes hambre de desayunar?” (“Are you hungry for breakfast?”) makes the slang request for perico—or scrambled eggs—perfectly acceptable.
In a café, your waitress will probably serve your eggs with a side of toast and some jam.
However, requesting perico on the street could get you into trouble because you’d be looking for cocaine.
So, in the café? All good.
On the sidewalk? Nope.
It’s a strange slang word because perico literally translates to “parakeet”—which has nothing to do with eggs or cocaine!
10. Echar los perros
So, literally, this expression means to “throw dogs at a person,” which makes no sense… but as a slang term, it means “to flirt with someone.”
If you’re in a club and your friend says, “Le voy a echar los perros a esa chica” (“I’m going to flirt with that girl”) you can give him a pat on the back.
As in other languages, it just goes to show that sometimes a dog is more than a dog!
This is an all-purpose exclamation that expresses the fact that you’re annoyed that you have to do a certain thing.
Don’t want to catch the next bus? Tired of carrying your buddy’s backpack because he broke an arm?
This is your best slang go-to expression in any case where you are annoyed.
Why It’s Important to Learn Venezuelan Slang
Knowing the slang of any country will give you a leg up in understanding, being understood and just fitting in, whatever the situation.
If you are able to learn how Venezuelans actually speak outside of regular Spanish, you will also have a better grasp on how they see the world.
Venezuelan Spanish is a clear dialect and therefore easily accessible to learners. Still, slang fills in the cracks!
These terms will come in handy outside Venezuela too, as the local language and culture has made its way around the world.
How to Practice Venezuelan Slang
Of course the best way to learn another language will always be to practice listening to and speaking said language.
When it comes to learning slang, try and find a Venezuelan conversation partner and pay attention to how they incorporate these slang terms in their own speech. Then, you can start throwing them into your own!
If you don’t have access to someone from Venezuela to speak with, you can also immerse yourself from home.
While you may not entirely get the speaking aspect, watching and listening to Venezuelan media can be very helpful.
You can even try looking up some of these terms on YouTube, where you’ll find plenty of entertaining videos!
You can also watch these words in action with the FluentU program, where you’ll see authentic Spanish videos such as movie clips, music videos and more that all come with interactive subtitles, flashcards and quizzes.
Basic slang will help you fit in, so listen and pick up as much as you can!