Hola, compa. ¿Qué onda?
Have you learned these Mexican slang words yet? Or are you used to Hola, amigo. ¿Qué tal?
Learning Spanish slang terms helps you sound like a more natural Spanish speaker. But one of the difficult aspects of any language is learning the regional differences, especially when it comes to slang. This is particularly true with Spanish, where there are many different dialects.
I started by learning Castilian Spanish, the Spanish dialect that’s native to Spain. But since then, I’ve picked up regional dialects and vocabulary from my travels around the Spanish-speaking world. And not least of all, I’ve learned some Mexican slang terms along the way.
If you live in North America, you’re probably most familiar with Mexican Spanish and Mexican slang thanks to the proximity to Mexico. And English has influenced Mexican Spanish in return. Out of all the regional dialects, Mexican Spanish has the most English terms.
If you’re a beginner Spanish learner, you’ll want to use these Mexican slang words with care. Some of them are not appropriate to use with strangers or even with your family. While it’s fun to learn slang, if you’re brand new to Spanish, I recommend that you start with essential words and phrases to start speaking Spanish now.
Let’s get right to it.
Mexican Slang to Master for Casual Conversations
Some of these terms and phrases below are NSFW.
Wey – “Dude”
Let’s start with the most common Mexican slang term. Wey means “dude” when talking to friends. It can also be used to call someone a “bro”, or, in general, refer to a guy. Sometimes you’ll see it spelt güey, but it’s pronounced the same and means the same thing.
It’s natural to greet a friend in Mexico with ¿Qué onda, wey?
It can also be used as conversational filler or an exclamation, like Wey, ¿viste eso? which means, “Bro, did you see that?”
Or another example:
Estaba estudiando español, y wey esta frase fue muy difícil …
“I was studying Spanish, and like, this phrase was really difficult…”
You may also hear vato in Mexican slang, but it’s not as common as wey. It’s more cholo, or gangster.
¿Qué onda? – “What’s Up?”
Like ¿Qué tal? or ¿Qué pasa? in Spain, this means “What’s up?” in Spanish. ¿Qué onda? literally means “What wave?” like, “What wave you riding, dude?” or “How’s it hangin’?”
More crudely, you can use ¿Qué pedo?, which also means “What’s up?” But pedo means “fart”, so the actual translation is “What fart?”
No Manches – “No Way” or “For Real”
This is an exclamation, typically used when someone’s telling you a story. Wherever you might say things like “No way!”, “For real?” or “Are you serious?” in English, you’d use no manches in Mexican Spanish.
No Mames – “No Way!”
Similarly, no mames is also used as an exclamation, but it’s more intense. It’s closer to “No fucking way!” Be careful with this one since it has a strong connotation.
The literal meaning is “don’t suck”.
Pinche – “Fucking” or “The Worst”
Pinche can be used to describe something as “the worst”, “ugly”, “awful”. Or it can be an intensifying cuss word, like “fucking” in English. Besides wey, this word’s a dead giveaway someone is from Mexico.
Mijo and Mija – “My Son” and “My Daughter”
This one is simple. Many words in Spanish get smushed together for convenience. One example is mijo and mija, which is mi hijo and mi hija (“my son” and “my daughter”) smushed together.
You can do this with many words, but this one is especially common to hear. If you’re learning Spanish slang, keep an eye out for these casual “smushed” words that combine two words together.
La Neta – “The Truth”
La neta means “the truth”, but when used as slang, it has several different meanings. It can be an interjection, meaning “For real?” or “No way!” when used like ¿Es neta?*
If someone does you a favour, you can say eres la neta, which roughly translates as “you’re trustworthy” or “you’re amazing.”
Fresa – “Snobby”
Fresa usually means “strawberry”. But when you call someone fresa, it means they’re snobby or from a rich family.
Pendejo – “Dumbass”
This one has a couple of literal translations, including “asshole” and “pubic hair”. But when calling someone this, joking or otherwise, it means “you’re stupid”, “dumbass”, or “idiot”.
¿Cuándo vas a dejar de actuar estúpido?
“When are you going to stop acting stupid?”
Carnal – “Buddy”
This word is used between close guy friends, or “bros”, to call each other “buddy” or “pal”. It’s a bit threatening and gangster when using it to a stranger. Saying it to a stranger is a bit like calling someone out and making sure they know you see through them and what they’re up to.
Chamaco / Chamaca – “The Kid”
This is a slang term to refer to a kid, usually one who’s a bit of a punk or pain to deal with. Here’s an example:
Ese chamaca necesita calmarse. Me estoy irritando.
“That kid needs to calm down. I’m getting irritated.”
Gacho – “Uncool”
Gacho or gacha is used to describe someone or something totally uncool, or even sloppy. For example:
El cine era muy gacho. No lo recomiendo.
“That movie was so lame. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Culero – “Asshole”
Exactly as it sounds. If someone’s being an asshole, this is what you’d call them.
Aguas – “Watch Out!”
This translates as “waters”, but when used as an exclamation, it’s a slang term for “Watch out!” or “Be careful!” You can use this in place of ayuda.
It may seem strange, but it comes from when people used to dump their sewage out the window onto the street. They’d say aguas to let others know they were about to empty el bacín (their “chamber pot” from back in the day).
Chancla – The Mom Beating
This one isn’t necessarily a slang term, but more a cultural reference. Chancla means “flip flop” but it’s become a meme in Mexican culture as the preferred weapon for every madre.
¡Aguas! Chanclas de mamá!
Watch out! Mom’s flip flops!
Jaina – “Chick”
This means “chick” or “chica”. You could say:
¿Qué tal, jaina?
“What’s up, chick?”
Compa – “Friend”
This is the Mexican slang for “friend”. It’s short for compañero or compañera. But it doesn’t need gender changes like the whole word. So you wouldn’t use it as compro for a guy. Everyone is compa.
Mexican Slang Phrases
Here are some essential Mexican slang phrases you’ll want to know. You’ll hear these often on Mexican TV shows, for instance.
Me Vale Madres – “I Don’t Care”
This literally means “I don’t care mothers”, but a better translation would be “I don’t give a fuck” or “I don’t care, motherfucker”.
A Huevo – “Hell Yeah”
This one means “of course”, “hell yeah” or “fuck yeah”, so you use this one for enthusiastic agreement. The actual meaning is “to egg”.
In English, how we refer to “testicles” as “balls”, in Spanish, they’re huevos. So, there are lots of other dirty or not nice phrases with huevo. Like Qué huevos, which more or less means “What balls!” to say someone did something that took guts.
Eso que ni qué – “No Doubt About It”
This one literally means “That what or what.” or “That what nor what”. As a slang phrase, it’s used to mean “No doubt about it”.
Ando bien pedo – “I’m Drunk”
This is another phrase that uses pedo, or “fart” and means more or less “I’m very fart”. You say this when you’re smashed from a hard night of partying.
Estoy Crudo – “I’m Hungover”
Crudo means “raw” and the next day after feeling ando bien pedo, your stomach may feel pretty raw. So this one makes sense as “I’m hungover”.
No Pos Wow – “Not Good, Wow”
This one stems from a meme like this one:
In Spanish, guau (which sounds like “wow”) is the onomatopoeia for a dog barking. So it’s a play on that, using improper spelling like an American meme would. (Pos is meant to be pues).
It’s used like “Oh, wow” or “Oh, no good”. Sometimes it’s used sincerely, but it’s mainly used in a sarcastic way, like “You don’t say. eye roll”
Vales Verga – “Worthless”
If you really want to insult someone, use this phrase. Translated word-by-word, it means “worth penis” or even “cheap penis”. When you say it, you’re calling someone “worthless”.
A La Verga – “Aw, Shit”
Another slang using verga, this time it’s an exclamation. When something goes wrong, you can say ¡A la verga! The actual meaning is “to cock”, so it basically means the same as “it went to shit” or “shit hit the fan” in English.
Tu es Chismosa – “You’re a Gossip”
This one stems from chisme, which means “gossip”. But if you want to call someone a gossip, you would say tu es chismosa or tu es chismoso.
Start Using Mexican Slang Words!
This article just grazes the surface of the interesting Spanish slang you’ll stumble upon in Mexico. But it’s a good start to Mexican slang you’ll hear in the movies, telenovelas, and shows. The more you immerse yourself in Spanish and practice these phrases, the more natural your conversations will sound. And, you’ll have an easier time picking up other slang terms, too.
What other Mexican slang did I miss? Do you have a favourite that I didn’t list here? Share it with me in the comments below!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.