Essential Spanish Slang that you need to know now
What are slangs?
As per Dictionary definition –
“Slangs are a type of language consisting of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people.”
Why you must learn some slangs?
- You will sound like a native! – And that’s a great achievement. Similar to our English slang words and phrases, it’s good to grab knowledge of them in Spanish.
- It will make you impressive – Using words like “dude” might sound informal but we all agree that while having an unprofessional conversation such words are catchy. And you definitely are looking to grab some attention with your knowledge of the Spanish language, ‘ain’t you?’.
- Your understanding improves – Knowing your new language both formally and informally increases your understanding of it. As long as you assure yourself that you won’t use slangs when in a formal conversation you are good to go to grab knowledge of some famous Spanish slangs.
Hola Tio, (Tio is Spanish of the slang word “Dude”)
Let’s dive into the list of some famous Spanish slangs that you should definitely know –
Es la caña
Meaning – It’s awesome
So the next time you fall in love with a movie or a book you have a perfect slang to describe your feelings for it in Spanish.
Qué mala pata!
An exclamatory slang for “What a bad luck”
Literal translate of this phrase is “bad paw” but like most English slangs the denotative meaning of the phrase differs from its literal meaning. So the next time you what to make an exclamatory statement for your bad luck, you have a Spanish slang to use.
Ser la leche.
This is one of the bizarre Spanish slangs that have two opposite meanings. It may sometimes mean “being awesome” and the other times the meaning is “being awful”.
So the next time someone uses this phrase on you does focus on the complete sentence before reacting further.
This is a cool slang for everything “rad”. Yes, that’s how you describe something groovy, cool, and rad in Spanish.
Note – This slang is not applicable to describe a person. Because then this would mean “they are cocky”.
No, not that famous Italian dish but this is one Spanish slang for “money”. “Una pasta” is what translates to ‘A fortune’.
Meaning – “I don’t believe you”
This is just an expression of disbelief and surprise.
But the same can sometimes be used to say “get lost”.
“Estar en el quinto pino”
An expression that indicates that “something is far away”. Though the literal translation of this slang is “to be at the fifth tree” which is pretty equivalent to the denotative meaning ‘” far away”.
Here is a list of few Mexican Spanish Slangs –
Literally translated to “to be raw” this Mexican Spanish slang is used to express the state of hungover. So the next time you wake up after a party in Mexico you know how to express your heavy head.
A Slang word that is used as an adjective for someone arrogant or stuck-up.
Though the literal translation of this word is “strawberry”. So in case, someone calls you ‘Fresa’ they ain’t referring you like a strawberry but a snooty arrogant man. Watch out!
An exclamatory slang meaning ~ “How awesome”
Padre, when translated literally, means a ‘father’ in Spanish but in Mexico, it is also used as slang with an awesome exclamatory meaning.
Ser bien gacho/a
To refer to someone as ‘gocho/a’ means to call someone lame or dumb. When the same slang is used to describe any situation it refers to the ‘bad vibes’ of that particular situation.
Want to talk about someone extremely lazy, here is a slang that you can refer to. The meaning is – “What a lazy guy!”
Obviously you must learn some slags that describe everyday habits or characteristics of people because how else will you make into that cool kid’s group.
Slang for an eye-opening gossip. The phrase means “Is it true?” People in Mexico use this to express excitement or disappointment as per the situation/gossip. The next time your Spanish friend tells you that she is dating a guy, you have slang in hand for the situation.
A list of some Argentinian (Spanish) slangs
Estar el horno.
The literal meaning of this slang is “to be in the oven”. Though the denotative meaning is to express someone’s state when in trouble. If you are stuck in trouble or are feeling trapped in life troubles this is the right slang to express your feelings, that’s how people in Argentina express themselves when stuck in a troublesome situation.
Ponerse las pilas!
In Argentina, people use this slang to pull someone out of bed. The slang means to “Put on some batteries and go outside”. In the English language, there is a slang “charge your batteries” which means the opposite of “Ponerse las pilas!” and expresses the need to relax to gain energy.
So if you want to drag your friend to a party or an outing you have an Argentinian Spanish slang to use.
One of the bizarre Argentinian slangs is “Mandar fruta”. The literal translation is “to send fruits” but the denotative meaning has nothing to do with it. The slang means – “talking nonsense”
You could also use it to tell the person to stop talking rubbish :
“Dejá de mandar fruta”
Meaning – Stop talking nonsense!.
Re in Argentina is used to say “very” and “Re copado/a” is very cool or super cool. You can easily slide in “re copado” in any conversation and sound like a local.
Note – Remember “Re” refers to “muy” or very.
- La posta!
This is an Argentinian version of our English slang “what’s up”. So in case you hesitate to start a conversation with a local or someone in general, we give you a slang for that. Ask them “La posta!” and you have an easy chance for a good conversation.
It’s the translation of English slang “screw it”. In other words, it can also mean “forget it”. It’s a quite simple and known one, and thus does not need much attention.
Argentines add this in the beginning, middle, and sometimes at the end of the sentence too. The meaning of the slang is “you know”. It is used as a filler like the English slang “you know” in the conversation.
Levantarse a alguien
Meaning “to pick someone up”, it’s one of the very popular dating slang in Argentina. Now you know what to tell your friends the next time you go on a date with someone.
Here is a list of a few Colombian slangs ~ Spanish Slangs.
A way to say “yes absolutely” or “let’s do it”. A reply to all your Friday night plans is here –“De una!” Tell your friends you are already excited to celebrate Friday and this new slang.
The literal meaning is “my key or key chain” but the slang meaning is “my close friend”. The connotative and denotative meaning is pretty close in language sense. Colombians call their friends ‘keys’ in a literal sense.
Though this slang is now used in other Latin American countries as well.
You can also use the same slang to express that you unfriended someone.
Lo saqué del llavero!
Translated to – I unfriended him.
This slang word, very similar to Zumba, refers to “the party”. Colombia is famous for its grand party and so is the Colombian slang Rumba. So if you are having a good party shout-out to people around you – La rumba está Buena!”
Literal meaning is “money”.
The slang meaning of Plato in Colombia is “money”.
If you have seen Narcos (the famous Netflix series) you must have heard of the popular dialogue “Plato o Plomo”. Though the literal meaning is “silver or lead” but it has a slang meaning which means “give me money or I will take your life” i.e “money or bullet.”
The literal meaning is “a tint or dye”. Though the slang is a reference to “a black coffee”.
Fun fact – Colombia has a popular slang for black coffee.
Though in Spain the same is used to refer to a glass of red wine. So if you are in Spain don’t order a glass of wine when you wanted a black coffee.
Papaya was just fruit for me until I stumbled upon “Der Papaya”. In Colombia, it is used as a warning to not put yourself in a vulnerable situation where you may be taken advantage of.
The connotative meaning of the slang differs according to the situation.
For example, if someone tells you “No der papaya” when you left your wallet on the counter they are warning you against thieves and getting theft.
Here is a list of Cuban slangs (another Spanish speaking country around the globe) –
Cuban have a slang word to refer to the United States – “Yuma”
This is tough to pronounce slang refers to “So much drama”. We give you a slang on how to react to dramatic gossips when you are in Cuba. Or maybe use the slang in Delhi to make the gossip more dramatic.
If you find yourself flirting in Cuba with the locals, and the native refers to you as “Tremendo mangon” you are lucky!
The literal translation is “big mango” but the speaker is calling you “attractive” or “hot”.
Enjoy your time.
Cubans have a slang for “I don’t care” which literally translates to “it sides off me”.
There is also a weird humorous Spanish TV series, the origin of which was in Spain.
The literal meaning is candle but the slang term “candela” refers to “on fire”. When the same term is used for describing a person it can either mean ‘hot’ or ‘troublesome’. It can also be used as an exclamatory slang to say “How awful!” or “How great!”
The slang term is a bizarre one that is it has both positive and negative meaning and can be used as per different situations.
We hope that you enjoyed going through these lists of Spanish slangs from some of the Spanish speaking countries around the globe.
Learn these Spanish slangs now and you are all set to flaunt your knowledge of Spanish with confidence, just like a native.
Stay tuned for more such posts.