Sounding like a fluent Spanish speaker requires a mastery of Spanish verbs, a wide Spanish vocabulary and, believe it or not, a little bit of slang!
Although they don’t always teach you the full range of colloquial terms in Spanish classes and schools, slang words and phrases are a staple of social interactions and are used abundantly in conversations between friends.
You might therefore be feeling a bit like an outsider among native speakers if you’re just getting used to Spanish slang, but ¡no te preocupes!
With this list of commonly used Spanish slang words and phrases you’ll soon be able to catch some of the quirkier expressions, slang phrases and colloquialisms that are used by the natives.
Why is Spanish slang important and when should it be used?
Spanish slang is important for various reasons.
Not only does using certain phrases help you sound like a native Spanish speaker, you will be able to fully immerse yourself in informal dialogues and understand the more subtle, nuanced meanings of conversations between friends.
Because, just like Spanish greetings, context is key and dictates how you should speak with others, you should always be aware of who you are speaking to and who else might be present when using Spanish slang.
After all, you wouldn’t address your boss or in-laws with the word ‘mate’, would you? 😊
A good friend might use a range of slang terms when they speak to you because they are familiar with you. You’re their tío/tía (in this context, good friend/dude), and the context is informal. They know that you’ll completely understand their intended meaning because they’ve known you for a very long time.
Native speakers reserve their Spanish slang for the right conversations and the right people, and that’s exactly what you should do as well.
Now you know why Spanish slang is important, here is our list of Spanish slang words, phrases and colloquial expressions that you’ll frequently hear from native Spanish speakers.
Take a look — which ones have you heard recently?
Spanish slang phrases that have negative connotations (and insults)
Sometimes you’ll need a slang word that conveys a negative meaning, or to express how annoyed something has made you feel. These are some of the common colloquial Spanish words and phrases that have a negative connotation behind them.
They might help you vent your frustration, but always consider the context in which you use them!
Ser un pijo/ser una pija (to be a brat/spoiled)
This slang phrase is used by Spaniards when referring to a ‘posh’, ‘snobby’ person who might have inherited a lot of money and gained their wealth without working very hard. When using this slang term, be careful!
In some Spanish speaking countries un pijo can mean ‘penis’. 🤣
Que no seas una pija. No te comprare nada mas.
Don't be a snob. I will not buy you anything else.
Ser cutre (to be stingy)
The Spanish slang term cutre refers to someone who supposedly never has any money.
They are ‘stingy’ when it comes to covering the tab, so you can bet that a person who is cutre will never offer to pay for a round of drinks.
Nunca me ha regalado nada en toda mi vida. Es que, es tan cutre.
He's never bought me any gifts in my whole life. It's just that he's so stingy.
Joder (shit, f**k)
This slang term is also a palabrota or swear word, which has a range of meanings. Commonly exclaimed when someone wants to express their annoyance or disapproval, joder is a word that you’ll frequently hear in Spanish movies.
If your friend says it, you’ll know they’re irritated, upset or angry.
¡Joder! El Barca ha perdido el partido. ¿Pero, como es posible?
Shit, Barcelona has lost the match. But how's that possible?
Es una cotilla (he’s/she’s a busybody, a snooper)
This Spanish slang phrase is an epithet used to describe someone who gossips a lot or knows too much about other people’s lives.
Chances are, if you’re in Spain, you’ll probably have a vecino (neighbour), who is a typical cotilla.
Mi vecina es una cotilla. Está siempre escuchando los escándalos de la gente.
My neighbour is a gossip. She's always listening to people's scandals.
We use the Spanish slang term caray, which is short for caramba, when we’re shocked, annoyed or appalled by something unjust that might have happened.
If someone is constantly nagging or nitpicking, and you feel frustrated by it, you might use this term to express how annoyed you are.
¡Cállate mujer, caray! Que no seas una cotilla. Siempre hablas demasiado.
Be quiet woman, damn! Don't be a gossip. You always speak too much.
Estar en la luna (absent-minded)
Though this Spanish slang term literally means ‘to be at the moon’, we use it to describe someone who is figuratively a million miles away or ‘absent-minded’.
If you’re en la luna, it means you are not focused or concentrating at that moment.
Pero, estáis en la luna hoy. No me estáis escuchando.
But you're all a million miles away today. You're not listening to me.
Tirar la toalla (concede/surrender)
This Spanish slang phrase might bring to mind the English expression ‘throw in the towel’, as the Spanish noun toalla translates as ‘towel’.
As with the English phrase, it means that you plan to abandon a difficult task or to admit you’ve been beaten by an impossible challenge.
Es la hora de tirar la toalla. No me puedes vencer ahora.
It's time to throw in the towel. You can't beat me now.
Me cae mal/me cae gordo (he/she annoys me)
We use this Spanish phrase to describe someone who has given you a bad impression of themselves — or to refer to someone who annoys you.
The phrase me cae gordo similarly conveys this meaning, and can also refer to the bad gut feeling or intuition a person gave you.
Este tío me cae mal. Es muy presumido y arrogante. No sabe cuando callarse.
This guy annoys me. He's conceited and arrogant. He doesn't know when to shut up.
Spanish slang phrases that have positive connotations
There are so many occasions where you’ll need to express your respect for someone, to address your group of friends with a positive or inclusive phrase, or use a term that shows how much you admire them.
Check out these Spanish slang terms that connote positivity or admiration.
Ser mono/ser mona/eres tan mono (to be adorable, cute)
Don’t get confused by this Spanish slang phrase — while mono translates as ‘monkey’, when used with the verb ser its meaning changes.
We use the colloquial adjective ser mono/mona to refer to someone who is cute or adorable.
Mira, ¡eres tan mono y precioso que no tengo palabras!
Look, you're too adorable and beautiful for words!
Molar/cómo mola (cool)
This common Spanish word is heard everywhere in Spain! Used in a similar way to the phrase que guay, something described with the word molar is ‘awesome’ or ‘cool’.
Este coche es muy grande. Tiene mucho espacio. ¡Cómo mola!
This car is really big. It has a lot of space. How cool!
Guay is another Spanish slang term for ‘cool’. With young people using it frequently, you’ll hear it everywhere in Spain.
Like the word mola, it’s a common word that can be used to compliment a situation or express admiration for someone on account of how amazing they are.
Que guay, tío. Me alegro que estéis mas felices que antes.
How cool, man. I'm glad you're all happier than before.
Tío/tía (dude, chico, chica)
In Spain, you’ll hear young people referring to their friends as tío/tía all the time.
A direct translation would give you the word ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’, but among friends it means ‘dude’ or ‘mate’.
¡Has comprado una casa! Pues, que guay, ¡tío!
You've bought a house! Well, how cool, dude!
There are many meanings to this Spanish slang term. The phrase ser un chaval refers to someone who is young in terms of their attitude.
It has connotations of being inexperienced or naïve, but it’s also a colloquial term used between friends meaning ‘dude’ or ‘guys’.
¿Que pasa chavales? ¿Ya estáis cenando? Llegare dentro de cinco minutos.
What's up guys? You're already having dinner? I'll be there in five minutes.
Qué chulo/chula (how cool, how stylish)
If something is described as chulo/chula, we mean that object is cool, stylish or amazing.
It’s a compliment, so you can use this slang phrase to express how much you like your friend’s new iPhone or their new car.
¡Tienes botas muy chulas! ¡Que envidia!
You have such cool boots! I'm so jealous!
Hincar los codos/voy a hincar los codos (to study a lot)
Have you pulled an all-nighter before an all-important exam? The Spanish slang phrase you’ll need to convey just that is hincar los codos.
It means ‘study hard’ and might bring to mind the English expressions ‘put some elbow grease into it’ or ‘roll your sleeves up’ because your codos are your elbows in English.
Quiere aprobar el examen de ciencias. Tiene que hincar los codos.
He wants to pass the science exam. He has to study a lot.
Es la leche (it’s awesome/amazing)
It’s easy to get confused by the many Spanish terms that feature the word leche or milk. A person might be in a bad mood, in which case you might say está de mala leche. But in this context, the slang term es la leche refers to how amazing something is.
That really cool book you finished reading last week — if it was fantastic and resonated with you, you might describe it as la leche.
Hombre, esta peli es la leche. A mi me gustó un montón.
Man, this film is awesome. I liked it a lot.
Spanish slang terms for amazement, shock or disgust
If something has stunned you silent and you just don’t know how to express your feelings, these Spanish slang words might describe the situation perfectly.
Take a look at these colloquial expressions that are frequently used by native Spanish speakers when there simply are no ideal words.
Hostia/la hostia (wow, no way!)
Though the word hostia is literally the Spanish term for the wafer given to you during communion, it also means ‘my God!’ and is commonly used to express shock or complete surprise caused by something or someone.
¡Hostia! Que barbaridad, los politcos siempre son corruptos.
Wow, what a disgrace. The politicians are always corrupt.
Ostras (wow, oh my!)
If you’re looking for a way to express your shock and surprise in a ‘non-blasphemous’ way, the Spanish slang term ostras is one option.
It is the same as exclaiming hostia, and conveys the same meaning, but is an expression typically used to avoid saying ‘oh my God’.
¡Ostras! Tienes mucho dinero. ¿Que vas a hacer con eso?
Wow! You have a lot of money. What are you going to do with it?
Flipar/te vas a flipar (freak out, go nuts)
Flipar is a Spanish slang expression that conveys shock or astonishment. It means ‘go crazy’ and can be used in a range of contexts. You might have discovered that someone is having an affair.
Or perhaps someone you know has suddenly inherited a fortune…
The phrase you’re going to need if you’re going to tell someone about that shocking news is te vas a flipar.
You’re going to freak out… I’m going to marry her!
Te vas a flipar... ¡Me voy a casar con ella!
Estar como una cabra (he’s/she’s nuts)
Though this slang term literally translates to English as ‘to be like a goat’, in Spain we use this phrase to refer to or describe someone who is totally crazy or behaving in a peculiar, silly way!
¿Pero, está borracho? ¡Está como una cabra!
But, is he drunk? He's totally crazy!
Other frequently used Spanish slang terms
The world of Spanish slang is vast and varied. There are so many colloquial terms that Spaniards use on a daily basis.
We’ve only scratched the surface! Here are a few more that might be of interest to you.
Me piro/pirarse (I’m leaving)
The full phrase sometimes used by Spanish speakers is me piro vampiro. It’s a funny slang term similar to ‘see you later alligator’.
The verb pirarse means ‘to leave’, so if you want to decline an invitation from your friends to go for more drinks later in the evening you can say lo siento, me piro.
No tengo ganas de ir a la fiesta. Lo siento, me piro.
I don't feel like going to the party. Sorry, I'm going.
Tomarse el pelo (pulling someone’s leg/having you on)
The literal translation of tomarse el pelo would be ‘pulling my hair’, but this slang term is used when someone is teasing you or making fun of you.
Sin duda, hombre, esa mujer te estaba tomando el pelo. No puede ser que ella tenga 59 años.
No doubt, man, that woman was teasing you. It can't be true that she's 59.
Es un lío/liar (it’s a mess/screwed up)
We use the slang term es un lío when we’ve made a mistake or done something wrong.
One example of this could be if someone has an affair, which we would describe by using the verb liarse. If something is un lío we mean it’s a mess.
Es todo un lio. Esta vez, no creo que entienda.
It's all a mess. This time, I don't think she will understand.
Duro/no tengo un duro (penniless, broke)
Duro is a Spanish slang term that means ‘money’. If you don’t have any, you can say no tengo un duro.
Lo siento, no te puedo comprar la bici. No tengo un duro.
Sorry, I can't buy you the bike. I'm broke.
How can you sound like a native when using Spanish slang?
The key to sounding like a native — and to avoid using the wrong Spanish slang term — is not only to consult lists and examples, but to listen to native speakers and actually hear the colloquial terms used in context.
When in doubt, consider how the person speaking to you addresses you and analyse the way they speak.
By listening and taking note of the phrases they use, you’ll soon be able to use them yourself.
Every person is unique, though. You might not use the exact same Spanish slang terms as your friends on every occasion. But having a good knowledge of these common terms is important as it will enhance your understanding.
There are also some excellent Spanish courses and apps that cover slang terms in greater detail.
Did I miss any Spanish slang terms?
Grab the link to this article
What are some Spanish slangs? ›
- En un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Meaning: in the blink of an eye. ...
- Mucha mierda. Meaning: break a leg. ...
- Llueve sobre mojado. Meaning: to beat a dead horse. ...
- Ponerse las pilas. Meaning: get cracking; put one's skates on. ...
- Hablar por los codos. ...
- Estar piripi. ...
- La gota que colmó el vaso. ...
- Echar una mano.
- It's giving. You can throw this one into conversation to describe the vibe something is giving you. ...
- Era. Think of this as a substitute for “phase”. ...
- Iykyk. This one is a pure and simple acronym. ...
- Slay. ...
- Fell off. ...
- Gatekeep. ...
- Situationship. ...
- Bad take.
Instead of using muchacho or muchacha or niño or niña, try out the Mexican slang term for “boy” or “girl,” which is chango or changa.What is cool Spanish slang? ›
Chido/a is a Mexican adjective meaning “awesome” or “cool”. It's used the same the way you would use guay in Spain. For example: Es un vato chido – He's a cool guy!
When someone asks for your 20, they want to know where you are. People often use 20 when messaging via texts or online to attain your location and meet up with you. The term comes from the 10-20 code police use over the radio to determine the location of an officer, incident, etc.What does 321 mean in texting? ›
The number 321 can be interpreted to mean “new beginnings.” This is a perfect time to start fresh, and your angels are there to support you every step of the way! If you keep seeing 321, it's a sign that your angels are trying to communicate with you.What is the most famous slang? ›
- Slang isn't going away. ...
- Nearly all Americans (94%) use slang, a higher number than the 84% figure this survey found last year.
- The most popular slang terms remain "ghosted" (to cut off communication) and "salty" (angry).
Cuate, Compa, Cabrón & Carnal
Cuate is slang for 'friend', as is compa, carnal and cabrón. They tend to be used to varying degrees depending which part of Mexico you're in, and cabrón can also be used as an insult at times.
Chico, muchacho, niño—and their feminine equivalents, chica, muchacha, and niña—are just a few of the words you can use in Spanish to refer to children. But they aren't all used in the same way.What do Cholos call their friends? ›
Güey. This word is at the forefront of Mexican slang. Similar to “dude” in English, “güey” is commonly used for friends or acquaintances, and in some unpleasant situations, refers to strangers in a sarcastic way. Pronounced like “whey” in English. Mira güey, ¿salimos hoy o que?
What is Spanish slang for dirty girl? ›
|1||General||chancha [f] LA|
What does morrita mean? In Mexican and some Central American Spanish, morrita is variously used as slang for a young girl, girlfriend or fiancée, or a sexy young woman.What is Puerto Rican slang for bro? ›
Broki. Many Puerto Rican slang words come from English. Broki is one of them; it comes from “brother,” and used in its broader sense: it can mean both a sibling or a close friend.What is Spanish slang for kid? ›
Chaval - The Spanish word for “boy” or “kid”. In Mexico, “chamaco”. In Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina, “pibe”.What is some Mexican slang? ›
Chido: Awesome. Padre: Cool. Ándale: Come on. Avísame: Let me know! Órale: All right.What are the 100 most used verbs in Spanish? ›
- Ser Conjugation (To be)
- Estar Conjugation (To be)
- Haber Conjugation (To have)
- Tener Conjugation (To have)
- Venir Conjugation (To come)
- Ir Conjugation (To go)
- Dar Conjugation (To give)
- Ver Conjugation (To see)
- Hola (Hello)
- Adios (Goodbye)
- Gracias (Thank you)
- Por favor (Please)
- Si (Yes)
- Claro (Of course)
- No (No)
- Amor (Love)
Now that we know all this, let's take a look at the list: 100 – cien. 101 – ciento uno. 102 – ciento dos.What is a 23 slang? ›
For some time past there has been going the rounds of the men about town the slang phrase "Twenty-three." The meaning attached to it is to "move on," "get out," "good-bye, glad you are gone," "your move" and so on.What is a 63 slang? ›
Rule 63. (Internet slang, fandom slang, informal) The proposition that it is possible to find genderswapped versions of every fictional character, especially as fan art on the internet.
What is $500 slang? ›
A one hundred-dollar note is known colloquially as a C-Note, a Borden (after its portrait of Prime Minister Robert Borden), or a bill (e.g. $500 is 5 bills).What is 459 meaning? ›
Text message code for I love you, 459 corresponds to each of the first letters in "I love you," I=4, L=5, and Y=9 on a cell phone dial pad. Tip.What does 711 mean in text? ›
Español | 한국어 | 繁體中文 | Tagalog | Tiếng Việt. TTY-based Telecommunications Relay Services permit persons with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone system via a text telephone (TTY) or other device to call persons with or without such disabilities.What does 👈 mean in texting? ›
The majority of people agree that it means 'shy'. As if you were twiddling your fingers together, nervously. The emojis can often be paired with the emoji too, for extra nervous vibes. The emoji sequence can be used if you're about to ask someone a soft, yet risky question, or if you're just feeling hella shy.What is the coolest slang? ›
- On Fleek.
Yeet is a slang word that functions broadly with the meaning “to throw,” but is especially used to emphasize forcefulness and a lack of concern for the thing being thrown. (You don't yeet something if you're worried that it might break.)What is Spanish slang for money? ›
If you want to say the word for “money” in Spanish, you would generally say “dinero” or “el dinero.” However, a fairly common slang term for money is “plata.” And you can easily find a few dozen other terms across the Spanish-speaking world.What's Chingale? ›
noun. boar [noun] a male pig (especially the wild variety)How do you say cops in Spanish slang? ›
- Mexico: el tamarindo.
- Guatemala: la tira, la polaca.
- Argentina: la cana, la yuta.
- Chile: los pacos, las tortugas ninjas.
- Spain: el picoleto, los azules.
- Colombia: el tombo.
- Amor. Amor directly translates to “Love” and is one of the most common nicknames for your partner. ...
- Corazón. This is a common nickname that means “Heart”. ...
- Chiqui. ...
- Mi reina. ...
- Mi amada. ...
- Mi Princesa. ...
- Mi sirenita.
What do you call your Mexican crush? ›
- Mi alma – My soul.
- Mi amada, amado – My loved one.
- Querida, querido – My dear.
- Tesoro, mi tesoro – Treasure, my treasure.
- Luz de mis ojos – Light of my eyes.
- Luz de mi vida – Light of my life.
- Mi luz – My light.
- Amor de mi vida – Love of my life.
Mijo, mija, mijito, and mijita are perhaps the most Mexican terms of endearment of them all. They're a fusion of the words mi hijo (my son) or mi hija (my daughter), while mijito and mijita are just the diminutives of the same words (my little son, my little daughter).How do Mexicans say okay? ›
Okay/OK/Okey/ and similar. Va or Vale. Está bien or just bien. Sale.What do Puerto Ricans call little boys? ›
Nene / Nena
In Puerto Rico, you will never hear the locals say ” niño or niña”, instead they'll used the slang terms it's nene for little boys and nena for little girls.
el amiguete (Span.) homie or: homey chiefly - shortened version of homeboy which means "close friend from the neighborhood" (Amer.) [sl.] el cuate (Lat.What do you call a white girl in Spanish slang? ›
The word güera is, in Chicano and Mexican-Spanish slang, a term for a white girl. It is mildly derogatory (as all such categorical terms are) and inevitably alienating, even (or especially) if one applies it, or finds it applied, to oneself.What is a cute endearment in Spanish? ›
Mi amor – my love Page 3 Mi corazón– my heart/sweetheart (similar to “my love” in English) Cariño/a– darling/sweetheart/honey Querido/a – dear Mi vida– my life. A nice expression for showing your loved one how much they mean. Precioso/a– precious Mi rey/reina– my king/queen Mami/papi – mommy/daddy.What is Spanish slang for dude? ›
"Vato" is a Spanish term that means "guy" or "dude." It is often used as a slang term to refer to a man or boy, particularly among Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. The term is often used in casual or informal settings, and can be used as a term of endearment or as a way to address someone informally.How do you say B * * * * In Mexican? ›
How do you say "bitch" in Spanish? - It could be "perra", "cabrona", or "zorra."¿Cómo se dice "bitch" en español? - Podría ser "perra", "cabrona" o "zorra".Is Punta a cuss word? ›
Is Punta a bad word? No, it means point or tip of something. Punta is usually mixed with Puta which is a curse word.
How do you call a hot girl in Spanish? ›
- Hermosa / Hermoso – Beautiful. A common way to say “You are beautiful” in Spanish. ...
- Bella / Bello – Pretty. ...
- Bonita / Bonito – Pretty or Nice. ...
- Preciosa / Precioso – Gorgeous or Precious. ...
- Guapa / Guapo – Handsome. ...
- Linda / Lindo – Lovely. ...
- Adorable – Adorable. ...
- Atractivo / Atractiva – Attractive.
The Spanish Verb for “to Flirt”: Coquetear
There are several verbs to say “to flirt” in Spanish, but the most common one is coquetear.
In the United States the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" (or "Latina" for a woman; sometimes written as “Latinx” to be gender-neutral) were adopted in an attempt to loosely group immigrants and their descendants who hail from this part of the world.What is a Mexican lady called? ›
According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, señora is used to refer to married or widowed women, while señorita is reserved for single women.What are the 10 common Spanish words? ›
- Hola (Hello)
- Adios (Goodbye)
- Gracias (Thank you)
- Por favor (Please)
- Si (Yes)
- Claro (Of course)
- No (No)
- Amor (Love)
- The 10 most popular Spanish sayings. ...
- Al mal tiempo, buena cara. ...
- Más vale pájaro en mano, que ciento volando. ...
- Más vale tarde que nunca. ...
- Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente. ...
- Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda. ...
- A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente. ...
- Cada maestrillo tiene su librillo.
- Awesome (Adjective)
- Cool (Adjective)
- Sure (Adjective)
- Beat (Adjective)
- Whatever (Noun)
- Wheels (Noun)
- Amped (Adjective)
- Babe (Noun)
el amiguete (Span.) homie or: homey chiefly - shortened version of homeboy which means "close friend from the neighborhood" (Amer.) [sl.] el cuate (Lat.What is the most common Spanish phrase? ›
- Hola – “Hello”
- Me llamo… – “ My name is…”
- ¿Y tú? – “And you?”
- Mucho gusto – “Nice to meet you”
- ¿Qué tal? – “How are you?”
- Nos vemos – “See you”
- Por favor – “Please”
- Gracias – “Thank you”
|Rank||Word in Spanish||Meaning in English|
What phrases Mexicans say? ›
- ¡Aguas!: Watch out!
- Sale: Alright.
- Chido: Awesome.
- Padre: Cool.
- Ándale: Come on.
- Avísame: Let me know!
- Órale: All right.
- Porfis: Please.
Essentially, these trigger words are the words and phrases that will help you to know when to use the Spanish past tense in preterite form. Preterite trigger words are extremely helpful for beginners who may doubt which past tense to use in a particular sentence.What is a common Mexican saying? ›
1. Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr – Anonymous. Literal translation: Water that you must not drink, let it run. This Mexican proverb warns us not to get involved in something that we won't be able to face later. People normally say this to you so that you don't dar alas (give wings) to anyone.Is Que Onda rude? ›
Que onda in Spanish is a way friends and family welcome each other in an informal situation. Remember, if you're using que onda as a greeting, it should be with someone you already know or in a casual scenario. Que onda is not acceptable in formal or elegant situations.Is Chingasos a bad word? ›
Chingasos is slang for a beating or going to blows with someone, although it can mean a harsher curse word to some.