Tag: Spanish slang

Ándale, ándale!

If you are over thirty and grew up on a steady diet of cartoons, watching and rewatching them until your parents turned off the television and forced you to get productive,  you may have been productive after all, in fact you might even have been learning a little Spanish. Of all the Looney Tunes characters, one of the most memorable members of the cast is Speedy Gonzalez, the fastest Mouse in Mexico. In all likelihood, you probably learned your first Spanish slang word from his trademark ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! catchphrase. The word “ándale” is so commonly used in Mexico that it’s hard to find a region in the country where is doesn’t come in handy, yet this word is still absent from most Spanish language dictionaries. Knowing the meaning of this interjection is an absolute essential if you’re interested in communicating in a more expressive way in Spanish.

Similar to other slang words, “ándale” has a wide range of uses and meanings. It can be used to express encouragement, surprise, frustration and affirmation, to name just a few. Meaning can also be inferred through context and the tone of the speaker’s voice, so that even without knowing the meaning, we already know that Speedy is encouraging us. His signature catchphrase “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba¡” actually translates into something comparable to “C’mon, c’mon, giddyup, giddyup!” Here are three ways in which you can use this word:

Ándale, vamos al parque. (Alright, let’s go to the park.)

¡Ándale, tenemos que irnos! (Hurry up! We have to leave!)

¡Ándale, que llegamos tarde a la boda! (Come on, we’re running late to the wedding!)

“Ándale” is as authentically Mexican as it gets and if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is shouting ándale, ándale” at you, you’ll know exactly what to do.  So there you have it, you’re one step closer to speaking Spanish like a true Mexican.  

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Mexican Slang Essentials: ¿Qué onda?

If you spend any significant amount of time socializing in México, or even here in some parts of the US, “¿Qué onda?” is a question you simply can’t escape from.  Like tacos or mezcal, it is an absolute staple of Méxican culture! So let’s take a look at the meaning of this phrase and its origins.

A common greeting in Mexico and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, “¿Qué onda?” doesn’t have a truly direct translation. The word “onda” in Spanish is the English equivalent of “wave” or “ripple.” So if you took it literally, “¿Qué onda?” would technically mean “What wave?” Certainly, that doesn’t sound like it adds up to much. However, it’s actually an informal greeting that can be more of less interpreted as “What’s up?” Now, you’re probably asking yourself how you get from one to the other, right? Well, “¿Qué onda?” is an expression that took hold in the youth culture of México during the 1960s, and is still in high use today. “Ondas” here are not only “waves” in the seafaring sense, but also in the same way we talk about radio waves or invisible influencing forces – in other words: it’s a way to ask how are things going or what is happening. Another way to use this expression is by adding mala or buena to onda to describe a person or situation. For instance, “¡Qué buena onda!” is a great way to respond to a friend who just told you she got a raise at work. Or you could also say “Mi jefe es buena/mala onda” depending on how much you esteem your boss. Like so many Mexicanisms, it is versatile and highly malleable.

Along with ¿Qué paso?, ¿Qué tal?, and the vulgar ¿Qué pedo?, “¿Qué onda?” is a pretty straight-forward way to say “what’s up” to someone in México. Nonetheless, it is important to note that with a few hand gestures and a change in the tone of your voice, “¿Qué onda?” goes from “what’s up” to “do you got a problem?” in a hurry, so be careful with how you use it!

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Argentine Slang Essentials: Che

The Wondrous Origin of the Word CHE

Slang words are often tethered to other ideas and attitudes that simply cannot be expressed as succinctly without them, and the slang word “che” commonly used in Argentina, Uruguay and in the Spanish autonomous community of Valencia is no different. With its colorful history, it has already made inroads to non-Spanish speaking cultures and gained an “official status” with its entry into the famous Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary.

If you were to casually mention the word “che” to an English speaker in the United States, they would almost certainly associate it with Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary. His image has been plastered on t-shirts all over the Americas and appropriated for innumerable causes relating to counterculture, but many still don’t know this is simply his nickname. It has been said that Guevara earned the moniker for his frequent use the word che,” among the “barbudos” (the bearded revolutionaries. The term was coined to describe the rebel forces of the Cuban Revolution) as a casual speech filler used to call someone’s attention similarly to “hey” (more about that later.) As a result, Guevara was popularly known as “el Che” in Cuba and in many Latin American countries and simply “Che” elsewhere. However, it is important to note the uses of this word that stretch back far beyond Che Guevara.

There are several theories about the origin of the word “che,” but some scholars link it to the Mapuche language. Spoken natively in the areas in Chile and Argentina, the Mapuche language dates back thousands of years. When Spanish colonizers encountered the Mapuche there was some inevitable word borrowing and one that stuck was “che” which simply translates as “man”. Fast forward hundreds of years and Spanish speakers continue to use this word today, the same way English speakers use the words “pal” and “man”. For example, the colloquial expression “¡Hola, che! ¿Cómo te va?” translates into “Hey, man! How’s it going?”.

According to the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary, it functions as a different kind of usage altogether: the role of attention-getter. Here’s where Che Guevara’s story comes back into play! Similar to the way English speakers use the informal vocative “psst,” Spanish speakers might use “che.” For example, when living abroad in Argentina, one might hear this expression spoken at a dinner table, “Che, ¿me pasás la sal?” which translates to “Hey, would you pass me the salt?” And yet another use employs it as an exclamation to emphasize an idea. For example, one may exclaim about the weather, “qué calor, che!” which translates to “wow, it’s so hot!”

Hopefully learning about this Spanish slang word makes you a little more comfortable with the language and one day a native speaker from Argentina might say to you: ¡Che, pero qué bien que hablás español!


Comeback often to keep refreshed on the latest and most popular slang from the world’s many Spanish speaking cultures!

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Mexican Slang and The Curious Case of “Aguas”

Water is such an essential part of life, and -not surprisingly- it is one of the first words you learn in any language. So I’m sure that you already know that the Spanish word for water is agua, but did you know that this word has other meanings? One common denominator of language is slang, and Spanish is no exception. Let’s hear the story of the word “aguas”.

Mexican slang is creative and, for some, too coarse for comfort. So when Mexicans shout “aguas!” you can guarantee they are not talking about water. Literally, this announcement would translate to “waters,” but in this case “aguas” is being used to tell one to be careful or watch out. Someone is issuing a warning! It is kind of like the way English speakers in the United Sates have applied the term “heads up” to situations requiring immediate attention.

The origin of the “aguas” story goes back to the days before there was a modern sewage treatment system in Mexico. People during this time would collect “dirty” water in their home and before tossing it out into the street from their window or door would shout “aguas!” to politely alert any passerby. However, despite this word’s double meaning and being generations removed from this era in their history, this term is still actively used in Mexico today.

So on your next trip to Mexico (or California for that sake), if you ever hear anyone shouting “¡aguas, aguas!”, be sure to look alive and give a quick heads up!

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Mexican Slang: “Aguas”



To learn more about the origin of this term, click here!

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Expresiones con la palabra “luz”

  • A buena luz: thoughtfully, after some reflection.
  • A la luz de: in light of.
  • A primera luz: at first light, at the break of dawn.
  • A todas luces:  to do something with confidence and certainty.
  • Bombilla, bombita: light bulb.
  • Brillar con luz propia: to stand out on your own, to succeed.
  • Corte de luz: power outage.
  • Dar a luz: to give birth.
  • Foco: light bulb.
  • La luz de sus ojos: to be the apple of someone’s eyes.
  • Luz artificial: artificial light.
  • Luz eléctrica: electricity.
  • Luz mala: phenomenon caused by decomposing bones, but according to folk tales and superstition this light belongs to the wandering spirits of tortured souls.
  • Luz natural: natural light.
  • Luz solar: sunlight.
  • Luces y sombras: the good and the bad of a situation, the ying and the yang.
  • Sacar a la luz: to make something public, to air someone’s dirty laundry.
  • Salir a la luz: to become public knowledge, to be discovered.
  • Ser corto de luces: to be dim-witted, to not be sharpest tool in the shed.
  • Ser una luz: to be very smart, brilliant.
  • Tener luz verde: to have approval to begin a project or task.
  • Tener pocas luces: to be dim-witted, to not be sharpest tool in the shed.
  • Ver la luz: to see the light, to be born, to be launched or published.
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Veinte formas de decir “borracho” en países de Hispanoamérica

¿Sabías que en el Diccionario de la Lengua Española puedes encontrar más de 20 sinónimos “borracho” usados en su mayoría en América Latina?

Si cualquier hablante español tiene una larga lista de palabras para referirse a la persona embriagada por la bebida -“ebrio”, “beodo”, y “curda” forman parte de ella-, en cada país de Hispanoamérica sucede otro tanto, como se puede comprobar en el Diccionario con voces como “cuete” y “jáquima”, utilizados en México; “cufifo”, propio de Chile, o “tiznado”, que es como le dicen en América Central al que ha bebido más de la cuenta.

El famoso “mojito” cubano, término que, por cierto, se incluye por primera vez en el Diccionario, puede poner “jalado” al que abuse de esa bebida preparada a base de ron, zumo de limón, azúcar y agua, entre otros ingredientes.

“Jalado” es sinónimo de borracho en Cuba, como lo es “curado” en Argentina, “duro” en Bolivia, “embolado” en Nicaragua, “encandilado” en Venezuela, “fututo” y “jumas” en Costa Rica, “jumo” en este mismo país y en Venezuela, “maiceado” y “sesereque” en Nicaragua, “soropete” en Honduras y “zocado” en gran parte de América Central.

Haz click aquí para seguir leyendo.

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La palabra del día: Resaca

La palabra resaca tiene varios significados, por ejemplo, resaca es el movimiento en retroceso de las olas del mar después de llegar a la orilla.

Sin embargo, uno de sus usos más comunes tiene que ver con las bebidas alcohólicas, bueno, con el exceso de bebidas alcohólicas. De hecho, la resaca es ese malestar que se produce después de haber bebido mucho alcohol.

Si viajamos por América Latina, nos encontramos con distintas palabras para referirnos al mismo concepto. Si vas a México, escucharás “cruda”; si viajas a Ecuador, “chuchaqui”; en países de Centroamérica como El Salvador, Honduras o Panamá, escucharás “goma”; en Chile, agarrarás una mala “caña” y si ves en Colombia a algún entusiasta bebedor, puedes estar seguro que al día siguiente tendrá un formidable “guayabo”.

La palabra “resaca” la escucharás en países como Argentina, Uruguay, Perú, República Dominicana o España en frases como “menuda resaca tengo esta mañana” o “el vino de ayer me dio mucha resaca”. Su equivalente en inglés es “hangover”.

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Estar borracho

There are many colloquial ways to talk about “estar borracho” (“to be drunk”) that may vary from country to country; here we have some frequently used ones:

  • Estar ebrio: this is the most educated or formal way of expressing “to be drunk”.
  • Estar/ir mamado: in several countries, this is one of the most vulgar equivalents.
  • Llevar/tener una buena borrachera: used in several countries.
  • Llevar un buen pedo o ir pedo perdido: used in Spain.
  • Estar pedo: used in México.
  • Andar con la mona: used in Chile.
  • Estar chumado: used in Ecuador.
  • Estar jalado: used in Cuba.
  • Estar caído de la perra: used in Colombia.
  • Estar curado: used in Argentina.
  • Estar sesereque: used in Nicaragua.
  • Estar como una cuba: used in Spain.
  • Estar piripi: used in Spain.
  • Ir bien cocido: used in Spain.
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Expresiones con la palabra “fuego”

  • Echar fuego por los ojos: to be angry, furious.
  • Echar leña al fuego: to add fuel to the fire.
  • Estar entre dos fuegos: to be caught between a rock and a hard place.
  • No hay humo sin fuego: where there’s smoke there’s fire.
  • Pedir fuego a alguien: to ask someone for help to light a cigarrete.
  • Poner las manos en el fuego por algo o alguien: to vouch for someone.
  • Sacar las papas/las castañas del fuego a alguien: to get someone out of trouble.
  • Sentir un fuego en + parte del cuerpo (la rodilla, el estómago, etc): to feel a burning sensation on + part of the body (knee, stomach, etc.)
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