Refresh Your Memory: 7 Effective Memorization Techniques For Language Learning
What is the most powerful tool for learning a foreign language? It is our memory.
If you’re reading this article, you probably already know how to speak Spanish.
However, you wish to take your Spanish skills to the next level by learning how to speak like a true Spaniard.
So, how exactly can you make Spanish locals think you’re a native? Simple—learn some Spanish slang words and phrases.
In this article, you’ll learn a number of slang words and phrases that you’ll most likely hear every day from Spanish locals.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about how important it is to learn Spanish slang.
You’re probably wondering, “Can I get by with just knowing standard Spanish vocabulary?”
I’m sure you can cope in a Spanish-speaking country using only standard Spanish words. However, it is beyond doubt that you’ll often hear slang terms and expressions. If you don’t know any Spanish slang terms and expressions, you may find it difficult to mingle with the Spanish locals.
Listed below are three benefits of learning Spanish slang:
It makes you sound like a true Spaniard.
It will make it much easier for you to engage in casual conversations with Spanish locals.
It will help you expand your Spanish vocabulary.
Spanish slang is vocabulary that you wouldn’t find in a regular Spanish dictionary. Lucky for you, you don’t have to look elsewhere.
We have put together 15 Spanish slang words and phrases that you should be aware of if you want to be able to speak Spanish like a true Spaniard.
Let’s dive in!
By definition, tia or tio literally means aunt or uncle respectively. Among Spanish locals, however, tio is used colloquially as bro, dude, or guy. The same goes for tia, which is often used as another name for girl, lady, or chick.
In Spain, when you hear Spanish locals talk, you may also often hear the phrase “¡Qué tío!” This phrase means “What a (blank)!” in which the blank can either be idiot, hero, womanizer, genius, etc., depending on the tone and context.
“Oye tío, ¿qué pasa?”
“Hey bro, what’s up?”
“Mi esposo no vino a casa ayer. “¡Qué tío!”
“My husband did not come home yesterday. What a jerk!”
Guay is the Spanish slang term for cool, awesome, amazing, and other similar words. This slang is most commonly used to express admiration and enthusiasm towards a particular subject.
Keep in mind, however, that this term is being used exclusively in Spain only. So if you’re in Mexico, Colombia, and any other Spanish-speaking country, the locals there may not be able to understand this term.
“Mira esa foto que sacó en Barcelona… ¡Qué guay!”
“Look at this picture she took in Barcelona… How cool!”
There are countries that use joder as a way to annoy someone or mess around, but none of them use it as a stand-alone verb with so much intensity as a Spaniard.
In Spain, joder is the equivalent of the English words shit or fuck. I told you, it’s pretty intense. Obviously, this is a term that you should use sparingly. Don’t use it during formal conversations and only use it during conversations with family or closest friends.
“Joder! Olvidé apagar la estufa.”
“Shit! I forgot to turn off the stove.”
This is one of the most common slang expressions that you might frequently hear among conversations with Spanish locals. This expression originated from Spain’s Catholic heritage. Literally, hostia refers to the eucharist in a Catholic mass—la eucarista.
As a slang, however, it is what you say when you’re shocked, surprised, alarmed, or concerned. It’s like the Spanish equivalent of the expressions “what the hell” in American English and “bloody hell” in British English.
“¡Hostia! Perdi mi billetera.”
“Bloody hell!/What the hell! I lost my wallet.”
Colega is the Spanish slang for friend. I know what you’re thinking, “I thought amiga/amigo is how you say friend in Spanish?” That’s right. Don’t get confused, colega is the slang counterpart of the standard Spanish words amigo or amiga, which refers to a male friend and a female friend respectively.
Unlike amigo or amiga, when using this slang term, you don’t have to change the last letter to be gender-specific. Colega is acceptable to use to refer to both male and female friends.
“¡Hola colega! ¿Adónde te diriges?”
“Hello, friend! Where are you headed?”
In your Spanish lessons, you may have learned that simpático means “nice” or “friendly”. That’s true, but there’s a more casual way to say it, which is majo. Simply put, majo is the slang equivalent of the formal Spanish word simpático. In Spain, you would hear majo more than simpático, so it’s best to blend in with the crowd.
Aside from meaning “friendly”, “nice”, or “pleasant”, majo can also be used to describe someone as “pretty”, “handsome”, or “good-looking”. Just like many other words with various meanings, it all depends on the context. But ultimately, majo is a compliment. If someone used majo as a way to describe you, say gracias.
“¡Vaya! Tu colega Sarah es muy majo.”
“Wow! Your friend Sarah is really nice.”
When translated literally, cabrón means “male goat” in English. That doesn’t make sense, does it? Spanish locals, however, use this expression as a way to describe someone who is annoying, idiotic, or has a foul personality. Simply put, cabrón means something like “bastard” or “dumbass”.
Be cautious about your use of this expression as it can be extremely insulting or offensive. Use this word carefully and sparingly. Try to limit your usage of this word to the people closest to you and to anyone you can freely joke around without them being offended.
While this may not be a word that you can use whenever you’re talking to Spanish locals you’ve just met, this is a very common slang that you’ll most likely hear everywhere. Thus, it’s helpful to know about it regardless.
“Fuera de mi camino. ¡Cabrón!”
“Get out of my way. You bastard!”
Bocanchancla literally translates to “flip flop mouth” in English. It sounds funny, right? It is used to describe someone who keeps running their mouth, sounding like flip flops smacking the ground when walking.
So, the next time a close friend is being a gossip or a big mouth, call them bocachancla. Obviously, this is not a word that you should be using during professional circumstances lest you might end up unintentionally offending some locals.
“Lo que estás diciendo es solo un rumor. Deja de ser tan bocachancla, Diana.”
“What you’re saying is just a rumor. Stop being such a big mouth, Diana.”
Do you ever feel pissed off but you couldn’t find the right words to perfectly describe how you feel? There may be an abundance of choice of words for this in English, but in a foreign language, it’s kind of challenging. Luckily, there’s a slang expression for pissed off in Spanish.
When you’re feeling extremely angry, you can say use this slang expression to accurately express the frustration you’re feeling. However, keep in mind that this expression is very intense, so you should be cautious about who you say it to.
“Soy muy cabrearse. Alguien golpeó mi auto.”
“I’m so pissed off. Somebody hit my car.”
English speakers say that they’re “spaced out” when they are feeling dazed, disoriented, or sluggish. Would you be surprised to learn that there is an exact Spanish equivalent to that expression?
In Spain, empanado refers to a food that is breaded and empanada refers to a type of pastry. But as a slang, Spanish locals use empanado as a way to describe feelings of confusion, regardless of what caused it.
“No puedo pensar bien. Soy todo empanado.”
“I can’t think properly. I’m all spaced out.”
When translated literally, fuerte means “strong”. But when used as a slang, it is a way to express astonishment or shock. Basically, this phrase means “Wow!” and can be used either as a positive or negative remark.
Typically, you’ll hear this spoken by a Spanish local accompanied by the Spanish wrist shake.
“No puedo creer que mi jefe me despidió. Qué fuerte!”
“I can’t believe my boss fired me. Wow!”
Translated literally, this phrase means “nothing is happening.” Now that might not make any sense, but it is used in an entirely different manner as a slang. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, it is a way to say “you’re welcome”, “no problem”, or “no worries”.
You can use this phrase as a response to gracias or when someone expresses gratitude to you for doing them a favor.
“Gracias por venir.”
“Thank you for coming over.”
“No Pasa Nada.”
This slang phrase is a complicated one for sure. Do you think about how the Spanish word leche has a wide range of uses? Literally, it is the Spanish word for milk but it can also be used as an expression when you’re angry or surprised.
The expression Ser la Leche is pretty much the same. Depending on the context, it can either mean that something is really really cool or really awful.
Sounds confusing? Think of the English slang sick, which can also be used as a positive or a negative remark. Now that makes sense, right?
“Mira este auto. La leche!”
“Look at this car. So cool!”
“Por favor, deja de hacer rumores. Él piensa que es la leche.”
“Please stop making up rumors. It’s really annoying.”
Pimiento is “pepper” in English. When translated literally, this phrase means, “It is as important as pepper.” While we don’t have a similar phrase in English, you probably get the idea of what it means: that you don’t really care or it isn’t worth your time or effort.
You can use the phrase “Me Importa un Pimiento” the same way you would use the English phrase “I couldn’t care less.”
“La boda me importa un pimiento.”
“I couldn’t really care less about that wedding.”
Ir a Su Bola literally translates to “go to your ball”. It doesn’t make sense, but don’t worry it is used in a completely different manner as a slang phrase.
When used as a slang, it means “to do your own thing.” It may sound positive, but it is important to keep in mind that it is used with a negative undertone. It is often used to describe a person who’s doing their own thing even if it isn’t rational.
“José no te escucharía. Él va a su bola.”
“Jose would not listen to you. He does his own thing.”
Watch the video below to learn more Spanish slang words and phrases.
Congratulations! Now you can walk the streets of Barcelona or Madrid with confidence knowing that you can keep up with Spanish locals in throwing slang here and there.
At this point, you already know a number of slang terms and expressions. You’re all set to mingle and chat with Spanish-speaking folks effortlessly.
If you want to hone your Spanish skills even more, consider booking classes with a Spanish tutor. At Justlearn, every tutor is a native to the language they’re teaching so you can rest assured you’re in the right hands.
With the right tutor, you’ll sound like a true Spaniard that even native Spanish speakers would think that you’re one of them. How cool would that be?
It means tip or point of something.
Yes, Spanish has a lot of popular slang.
Pendejo, Buena Onda, Cabron, Pinche
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