Curious about slang words in Spanish to add to your vocabulary? Check out tutor Emmanuel N.‘s list here — and also learn how they differ by country!
Every language and every country has its own usage of slang. In fact, if we’re being specific, each generation invents new slang words or will reuse words from decades ago.
When trying to learn Spanish “by the book,” you may find yourself in somewhat of an awkward situation when trying to communicate with Spanish speakers in relatively informal environments. Just like you learned your native language, native Spanish speakers learned formal Spanish in school and the more conversational aspects of the language outside of the classroom.
With that said, they tend to know all of the Spanish slang words from their country while you may not know any!
Of course, you can always ask your friends to define unknown words. But let’s discuss several slang words from a few Spanish-speaking countries so that you can familiarize yourself now. One last thought: No swear words will be discussed in this article — although every country and language has a ton of them.
Bonus: Want to learn Spanish slang and phrases with a live tutor? Check out our live, online classes, free for a limited time!
¿Qué onda? (What’s up?)
¿Como va? (What’s up?)
Bondi (City Bus)
Charlar (To have a conversation)
¡Ojo! (Be careful!)
Dar bola (To pay attention)
La Cana (The Police)
Here are a few examples using Argentinian Spanish slang:
“¿Como va?” (“How are you?”)
“Pues, más o menos, y tu?” (“Well, I’m so-so, and you?”)
“Un poquito enojado con mi novia.” (“A little mad at my girlfriend.”)
“Por qué?” ( “How come?”)
“Porque es una mujer garca.” (“Because she’s a dishonest woman.”)
“No me digas. Te dije que te das bola.” (“You don’t say. I told you to pay attention.”)
¿Qué más? (What’s up?)
¿Qué hubo? (What’s up?)
¡Pilas! (Be careful!)
¡Qué boleta! (How embarrassing!)
Camello (Heavy work)
Estar en la olla (To be in a bad situation)
Storbar (To disturb)
Some examples using Colombian Spanish slang:
“¿Qué hubo?” (“What’s up?”)
“Nada, solo aqui pensando.” (“Nothing, just here thinking.”)
”¿Algo pasó?” (“Did something happen?”)
“Pues… estaba en la olla en mi trabajo.” ( “Well… I was in a bad situation at my job.”)
“Alguien me dio el trabajo equivocado y no sabia. Cuando lo terminé, el jefe me estaba storbando porque no me dio cuenta que estaba mal.” (“Someone gave me the wrong work and I didn’t know. When I finished, my boss was bugging me because I failed to realize it wasn’t the right work.”)
“¡Qué boleta!” (“How embarrassing!”)
Chavo/a (Guy/Teen Girl)
¡Que chilero! (Cool!)
A few examples using Guatemalan Spanish slang:
“Conocí a una chava.” (“I met a girl.”)
“Sí, era tan bonita, y yo en silencio me puse chiveado.” (“Yes, she was so pretty, and me all quiet I blushed.”)
”Jeje, que chilero.” (“Hehe [giggling], that’s cool.”)
¡Chale! (Give me a break!)
¿Mande? (What did you say?)
¡Noombre! (No way!)
¡Qué padre! (That’s tight!)
¡Ándale! (Come on!)
¡Órale! (All right!)
¡Aguas! (Watch out!)
Sangrón (Stuck up person)
Fresa (Preppy/snob/spoiled brat)
And lastly, some examples using Mexican Spanish slang:
“¡Mijo!” (“Son [shortened way of saying ‘my son’].”)
“¿Mande?” (“What [can mean a simple ‘what’ as well]?”)
“¿Dónde está tu prima?” (“Where’s your cousin?”)
“¿Cual prima?” (“Which one?”)
Ay, tú sabes. La fresa.” (“Oh, you know. The snob.”)
“Pues, no sé. Pensé que estaba trabajando.” (“Well, I don’t know. I thought she was working.”)
“¡Noombre! Nunca hace nada.” (“No way! She’s never doing anything.”)
“A poco. Pues, está mal.” (“Really? Well, that’s not good.”)
See Also: 14 Venezuelan Slang Words
Remember, when it comes to any kind of slang, words can be a bit difficult to pinpoint. In the end you are learning slang “by the book,” so some of these might be a bit off or not entirely correct when translated.
If you have any questions about certain Spanish slang words, you can always talk to someone who speaks Spanish from one of the aforementioned countries, or your Spanish tutor, to see if you are using the word correctly.
Additional Resource: Want to learn more colloquial Spanish, as a supplement to your tutoring? Check out this program from our friends at GrittySpanish.com!
Post Author: Emmanuel N.
Emmanuel N. teaches online Spanish and singing lessons. He earned his B.A. in psychology from California State University, Fullerton and has been teaching lessons since January 2015. Learn more about Emmanuel here!
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