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Tuesday, November 8th 2022

Guide to Mexican Slang

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Introduction:

Guide to Mexican Slang

I grew up in Mexico off-and-on all my life—and I speak Spanish fluently—but when I arrived in Mexico ten years ago to fully reside in this beautiful country, I didn’t know any slang. I’d learned Spanish from my grandparents, so I spoke very formally. Learning Mexican slang was like learning a whole new language.

In this article, I’m going to break down some of the more common slang terms—many of which are rather crass. Consider this a warning. I’ll begin mildly, and then the further the article goes, the worse the terms will get.

However, for the most part, I’ll skip all the lewd slang for drugs or sexual acts. You’ll just have to learn those for yourself. This is just a conversational guide to Mexican slang.

Neta

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Neta As A Noun

“Neta” or “La neta” means “for real” or “the honest truth”. I could say, “Neta, fue difícil llegar a tiempo” which means, “Honestly, it was difficult getting here on time.”

  • Neta As In For Real

You can also use it to ask if something really happened. For example:

“¡Anoche la novia de Carlos me agarró y me besó!” (meaning, “Last night, Carlos’ girlfriend grabbed me and kissed me!”)

“¿Neta?” (For real?!)

“Sí, bro”. (Yeah, bro.)

Varo

Guide to Mexican Slang

Simply put, “varo” just means “money”. An older crowd might refer to money as “lana”, literally meaning “wool”, but younger people will call it “varo”. For example:

“¿Quieres ir por tacos?” (meaning, “Want to go for some tacos?”)

“No, bro. No tengo varo.” (meaning, “No, bro. I don’t have any money.”)

Paro

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Paro” means “a favor”. Therefore, I could ask, “Oye, bro. ¿Me haces un paro? ¿Me llevas al doctor mañana?” meaning, “Hey, bro. Will you do me a favor? Will you take me to the doctor tomorrow?”

Güey

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Güey As Bro

“Güey” translates perfectly to “bro”. If I say, “¿Qué pedo, güey?”, that means “What’s up, bro?” When texting, it’s most often spelled as “wey”—especially among a younger crowd. You’ll rarely see it spelled correctly with the “g” and the umlaut.

  • Güey As A Stupid Person

Among an older crowd, “güey” often denotes a stupid person. This is why you can often run into conflict using “güey” as “bro” with an older crowd, or addressing them as “güey”. It can still have this connotation, even among a younger group. For example, if I say:

“¿Dónde está Marco?” (Where’s Marco?”)

“Me mandó un mensaje diciendo que nos está buscando.” (He sent me a message saying he’s looking for us.)

“Pues, aquí estamos, afuera del cine.” (Well, we’re here, outside the movie theater.”)

“¿Quien sabe? Es medio güey a veces.” (Who knows? He’s half-stupid at times.)

  • Mi Güey

People will often refer to “mi güey” or “tu güey”. In this context, it means “boyfriend”, and it would never be used to refer to a girlfriend. For example, I could say:

“¿Viene tu güey?” (meaning, “Is your boyfriend coming?”)

“Sí, ahorita llega. Tu sabes, es un pedo cruzar la ciudad a esta hora.” (meaning “Yeah, he’ll be here in a minute. You know, it’s a hassle crossing the city at this hour.”)

Carnal

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Carnal” comes from the root “carne”, meaning “meat” or “flesh”. When you call someone “carnal”, it’s often used to denote that this person is one of your best friends. It’s synonymous with “hermano” in a sentence. For example, I could say, “Oye, carnal. ¿Qué haces hoy?” meaning, “Hey, brother. What are you up to today?”

Te Pasaste

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Te pasaste” means you went too far. This is in the preterite tense (past tense). It can also be used in the present tense, “Te pasas”, meaning “You go too far.” I suppose you could use it in the present progressive, “Te estás pasando”, meaning “You’re going too far”—but I don’t think this is as common of a usage. For example:

“¿Por qué no te cortas con tu güey? Ya es hora.” (meaning, “Why don’t you break up with your boyfriend? It’s about time.”)

“Conste. Neta, te pasas.” (meaning, “Careful. Honestly, you go too far.”)

Chido

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Chido Referring to A Person

“Chido” translates fairly well to “cool”. It can occasionally—though not that often—be used to refer to a person, such as:

“¿Oye, Rodrigo podrá venir con nosotros al centro?” (meaning, “Hey, can Rodrigo come with us to the centro?”)

“Sí, bro. Rodrigo es chido.” (meaning, “Yeah, bro. Rodrigo’s cool.”)

  • Chido As A Reply

More often than not, you’ll hear “chido” as a reply. For example:

“¿Quieres ir por tacos?” (meaning, “Want to go for some tacos?”)

“Chido.” (meaning, “Cool”.)

  • Estoy Chido As In No Thanks

Like American slang, “estoy chido” (which literally translates to “I’m cool”) can also be used to mean “no thanks”. Such as:

“¿Quieres un cigarro?” (meaning, “Want a cigarette?”)

“Estoy chido.” (meaning, “No thanks. I’m cool.”)

Chale

Guide to Mexican Slang

In some senses, “chale” is the counterpart to “chido”, but it’s really only used as a saying when something bad happens to express empathy, lamentation, or regret. The best translation would likely be, “That sucks.” For example:

“Anoche corté con mi novia.” (meaning, “Yesterday, I broke up with my girlfriend.”)

“Chale.” (meaning, “That sucks.”)

Huevo

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Huevo” itself means “egg”, and, as such, “huevos” also means testicles. However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to explore a couple other uses of “huevo”.

  • A Huevo

“A huevo” means “without a doubt”. It’s stronger than “for sure”, it’s a certainty. For example:

“¿Me depositas mañana? ¿Sin falla?” (meaning, “You’ll deposit that tomorrow? You won’t fail me?”)

“A huevo.” (meaning, “Without a doubt.”)

  • La Hueva

“La hueva” means “being lazy”. It’s often used in the phrase “echando la hueva”. Such as:

“¿Quieres ir por chelas?” (meaning, “You want to grab some beers?”)

“No, güey. Estoy echando la hueva hoy.” (meaning, “No, bro. I’m being lazy today.”)

  • Me Da Hueva

Related to the last usage, “me da hueva” has no perfect English translation, but the best would likely be “I can’t be bothered”. For example:

¿Quieres ir por chelas rumbo a mi casa? (meaning, “You want to grab some beers in my neighborhood?”)

“No gracias, güey. Es un pedo cruzar la ciudad a esta hora. Me da hueva.” (meaning, “No thanks, bro. It’s a hassle crossing the city at this hour. I can’t be bothered.”)

Pedo

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Pedo” itself means “fart” in Mexican slang. However, its usage varies greatly depending on the context. The most important thing to remember is that Mexican slang is heavily contextual.

  • ¿Qué Pedo? As What's Up

“¿Qué pedo?” is a very Mexican way of saying, “What’s up?” (It’s another way of saying “¿Qué onda?”) You can say it to a friend, just asking how life is going. In Mexico City slang, you can also hear “¿Qué pex?” when asking someone how they’re doing.

  • ¿Qué Pedo? As In What Is This

However, you can also say, “¿Oye qué pedo?” meaning, “what’s up with this?” For example, say a new office building opens up around the corner, you could walk in and say, “¿Qué pedo?” asking what they do as a business.

  • Estaba Pedo / La Peda

“La Peda” is a noun, meaning a debaucherous experience (almost always specifically concerning alcohol). And the usage of “pedo” as an adjective denotes heavy intoxication. “Él está pedo” means “he’s drunk”, and “ella está peda” means “she’s drunk”.

  • Pedo As In A Hassle

“Pedo” can also be a real hassle. I can say, “Es un pedo cruzar la ciudad a esta hora” (meaning, “It’s a real hassle crossing the city at this hour”).

  • Pedos As In Problems

If you have "pedos", it means you have problems with someone. In American slang, it's synonymous with "beef". Such as:

“¿Oye, Rodrigo podrá venir con nosotros al centro?” (meaning, “Hey, can Rodrigo come with us to the centro?”)

“No, bro. Ahorita tenemos pedos.” (meaning, “No, bro. Right now we have beef.”)

Pinche

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Pinche” itself means a chef’s assistant. However, its most common usage in Mexican slang is as an adjective, which serves to accentuate the word that follows. Taking the last example, if I say, “Fue un pinche pedo llegar a tiempo,” that means, “It was a real hassle getting here on time.”

Mear

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Mear As In Go Pee

“Mear” means “to go pee”. I could say, “Voy a mear,” which means, “I’m going to take a leak.”

  • Estoy Meando As In I Need to Pee

However, you can also say “estoy meando” to mean that you really need to pee. For example, you might say, “me estoy meando”, which literally means, “I’m pissing myself right now.”

Cagar

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Cagar As In Pooping

“Cagar” literally means “to go poop”. For example, I might say, “Voy a cagar, y después paso por ti,” meaning, “I’m gonna’ take a shit, and then I’ll pick you up.”

  • Cagar As In Failing

“Cagar” can also mean “to fail”, or perhaps a better translation is “to shit the bed”. For example:

“Oye, carnal. Oí que saliste con María anoche. ¿Te fue bien?” (meaning, “Hey, bro. I heard you went out with Maria last night. Did it go well?”)

“No, güey. Lo cagué. Al principio, todo iba bien. Pero después empezamos a hablar sobre la política.” (meaning, “No, bro. I screwed up. At first, everything was cool. But afterward, we started talking about politics.”)

  • Cagar As In To Hate Something

If you say, "me caga", it means you can't stand it. For example:

“¿Oye, Rodrigo podrá venir con nosotros al centro?” (meaning, “Hey, can Rodrigo come with us to the centro?”)

“Jamás, bro. Ese güey me caga.” (meaning, “Never, bro. I hate that guy.”)

Mamada

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Mamada As Bullshit

“Mamada” denotes oral sex performed on the male anatomy—which isn’t the concern of this article. But when it’s used in Mexican slang, it generally means “bullshit”. You can hear it referred to as a noun, “una mamada”. For example:

“¡Que pinche mamada! No me dejaron entrar al bar porque mi INE está vencido.” (meaning, “What fucking bullshit! They didn’t let me into the bar because my ID is expired.”)

  • Mamada As A Verb

More commonly, you’ll hear “mamada” referred to as a verb. You’ve likely heard that most-Mexican phrase, “No mames, güey.” That simply means, “Don’t bullshit me, bro.”

  • Te Mamaste

Using “mamada” as a verb isn’t always negative, however. If you tell a super funny joke (often with a self-deprecating humor) that has everyone roiling in laughter, you might hear, “Te mamaste!” which roughly means, “You cracked me up.”

Chingar

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Chingar As In Having Sex

“Chingar” essentially means “to fuck”, and its usage is a varied in Mexican slang as it is in English. In the past, it was often used to denote having sexual intercourse, but that isn’t as common with a younger crowd. Perhaps the most famous use in this context would be “chinga tu madre”, a common curse meaning “fuck your mom”.

  • Chingón

"Chingón" is synonymous with "chido" (listed above), but it's stronger, more-crass slang. It's simply an affirmation that roughly translates as "I'm down" or "hell yeah". For example:

“¿Quieres ir por tacos? Te invito.” (meaning, “You want to grab some tacos? I'm buying.”)

"Chingón." (meaning, "Hell yeah.")

  • Chingar As In To Break

“Chingar” can also mean to break something, or more literally, “to fuck it up”. For example, I could say, “Estaba tratando de arreglar mi radio y lo chingué,” meaning, “I was trying to fix my radio and I broke it.”

  • Chingar As In To Be Screwed Over

“Chingar” can also be used to mean “to be fucked over”. For example, I could say, “Le dí cien pesos al guardián por unas cocas y me chingó!” meaning, “I gave the security guard a hundred pesos for cokes and he fucked me over!”

  • En Chinga

“Estoy en chinga” means “I’m really busy.” For example:

“¿Quieres ir por chelas?” (meaning, “You want to grab some beers?”)

“No, güey. Estoy en chinga ahorita.” (meaning, “No, bro. I’m really busy right now.”)

  • Chingar As In To Nag

“Chingar” can also mean “to nag" or "to be nagged”. For example, I could say, “Todos los días, mi mujer me chinga que necesito ganar más varo,” meaning, “Everyday, my girl gives me shit that I need to make more money.”

Cojer

Guide to Mexican Slang

“Cojer” is the contemporary Mexican slang term for having sex. It has no other connotations. Do I really need to use it in a sentence?

Verga

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Verga As Penis

“Verga” is the worst curse word you can use in Mexican slang. It’s equivalent to “c#nt” in American slang in severity—though that word is not as serious in British English—and somewhat similarly, “verga” means “penis”. I won’t bother listing off examples.

  • Verga As General Curse Word

It is also commonly used as a general curse word. Think of it as a replacement for the word “chale” that I explain above. Thus, it could be translated as “shitty”, but with a very crass connotation. For example:

“Anoche secuestraron a mi papá. Lo llevaron al cajero y tuvo que sacar todo su varo.” (meaning, “Last night, my dad was kidnapped. They took him to the ATM and he had to take out all his cash.”)

“Verga.” (meaning, “shitty”—but with a very heavy connotation.)

  • Verga As In I Don’t Care

If you say, “me vale verga” that means, “I don’t give a shit.” It’s a very crass way of saying that you don’t care—and the use of this curse word punctuates how little you care. I used to say it at family reunions. Not recommended.

Fresa / Fifí

I debated including these last two submissions, but I believe that information is important for expats who are assimilating to a new culture. Nevertheless, I will try my hardest to impart my own feelings into these definitions.

  • Fresa As Posh

“Fresa” literally means “strawberry” and it’s a very common way of referring to upper-class individuals in Mexican society—what the British would call “posh”. They are generally well-educated, overly concerned with fashion, and with an overall impression of being high-maintenance. “Fresa” is not too offensive, and some people will refer to themselves as “fresa”.

  • Fifí

“Fifí” means more or less the same as “fresa”, though in a more politicized context. Not only are you upper-class, but it also signals that you vote accordingly. This term, and its counterpart (listed below), were popularized by Mexican president, AMLO.

Gato / Naco / Chairo

Guide to Mexican Slang
  • Gato

“Gato” literally means “cat”, but in this context, it’s used to denote the opposite of “fresa”. “Gatos” are lower-class, with a stereotype of being poorly educated—though not always!—and they are typically crass. For example, saying any of the words listed towards the end of this article will indicate to others that you are a “gato”. However, it’s considered more pejorative than “fresa” and people will rarely refer to themselves as “gatos”.

  • Naco

“Naco” means the same as “gato”, though it also often carries a context of having low morals. This word is more commonly used within older generations. However, <u>I DO NOT RECOMMEND</u> that you use this word. It comes from the root “Totonaco”, which is an indigenous tribe native to Southern Mexico. For this reason, younger individuals often use “gato” in place of “naco”.

  • Chairo

“Chairo” is a political term—the counterpart to “fifí”, which was also popularized by Mexican president AMLO. A “chairo” is someone who votes for populist policies, and is often associated with being lower-class themselves—though this is not always the case.

Conclusion

Guide to Mexican Slang

In this guide, I have tried my best to lay out Mexican slang as it’s heard spoken on the street—regardless of my personal feelings toward their usage. I would recommend that expats employ the words at the start of this article, but be aware that the more-crass words towards the end of this article will brand you as a person who curses like a sailor.

I have included these words so that expats in Mexico <u>CAN KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN</u>, in case they are ever confronted with situations where this type of language is being used. I am NOT recommending that you try and use ALL these words in your daily interactions with the local population.

I will say, though, that if you do master these terms, it will take your Mexican Spanish to a whole new level. You will be conversing with locals LIKE a Mexican—and it will be harder for them to speak in front of you in a way that you won’t understand.

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