Spanish slang is amazing! Spanish is a passionate and rich language, full of emotion. It’s also full of some of the craziest slang terms.
Learning Spanish slang words can be a fun challenge. Slang is sometimes difficult to pick up because the phrases don’t always make sense when you first hear them. The first time you hear “¡Hostia!” in Spain, you may think… “Why are they exclaiming, ‘The host of Christ’?”
It’s good to know Spanish slang if you’re preparing to travel to Spain, too. After you’ve prepared how to introduce yourself and order at a restaurant, the next step is to learn some common Spanish slang.
Spanish has lots of different words and phrases based on the region you’re speaking in. For instance, Mexican slang is quite different from Castilian slang spoken in Spain.
For that reason, I’ll be focusing on Castilian Spanish slang. It’s the Spanish I learned first, and obviously had closer proximity to me while living in Europe.
These Spanish slang terms are so common you’ll hear them all the time in everyday speech in Spain. But keep in mind, some are NSFW. There are some cuss words below, and you want to be mindful of who you’re using these slang terms with. These are for your friends, and some may be okay with family, but don’t use them with strangers.
Spanish Slang Words
The below Spanish slang words are from Castilian Spanish, the dialect used in Spain.
¡Hostia! – “Bloody Hell”
One of the most common slang expressions which comes from Spain’s Catholic heritage. Hostia literally refers to the eucharist in a Catholic mass, la eucaristía. But as slang, it’s an exclamation for when you’re surprised, shocked, alarmed or concerned. It’s like saying “bloody hell” in British English, or “what the hell” in American English.
There are quite a few religious Spanish slang phrases like this. For instance, you could say dar una hostia, which means “to give a host”. This is used to say you’ll slap someone across the face. Te voy a dar una hostia! means “I’m going to give you a beating!”
La Virgen María, or “the Virgin Mary”, is also sometimes used as an exclamation, like “Oh my God!”
Guay – “Cool” or “Amazing”
Guay is another must-know slang word in Spanish. Just like “cool”, “amazing”, or “great” in English, you’ll hear this one all the time in Spain. Sometimes it’s used to show agreement, or say “okay” in response to a question instead of sí for “yes”.
¡Qué guay! Me gusta ese programa de televisión también. ¿Quién es tu personaje favorito?
“How cool! I like that TV show, too. Who’s your favourite character?”
Chula / Chulo – “Cool” or “Attractive”
Chulo or chula means “cool” and can be used to say something is “pretty” or “attractive”. The main difference between chulo and guay is that, in Spain, chulo can only be used as a positive phrase when talking about inanimate objects. If you use it to talk about a person, it can mean they’re “cocky” or “conceited”.
Ese auto es muy chulo.
“That car is really cool.”
Venga – “Come on!”
This is a filler word that can have either a positive or negative meaning. You can use it as an exclamation, like when watching Real Madrid in a football game: Venga! Ve, ve, ve! or “Come on! Go, go, go!”
¡Jolín! – “Heck!”
This one is not quite as strong as some of the other expressions on the list. When you’re irritated, you can say ¡Jolín! It means “darn”, “heck”, “jeez”, or “blast it!”
¡Jolín! Olvidé comprar la leche.
“Blast! I forgot to buy milk.”
Vale – “Okay”
You’ll hear this one in almost any conversation. It can replace sí to acknowledge someone or agree, and it’s an exclamation, too, like “Yes!”
“Okay, let’s go.”
Joder – “Fuck”
Joder is used exactly the same way as “fuck” in English. It’s a catch-all term like jolín, but much more crude. It means everything from an angry or amazed exclamation, to talking about sex.
As in English, this isn’t the kindest term you could use, so use it wisely. But it is a common term you’ll hear often (especially on TV):
¡Joder! ¡Esa fue una jugada increíble!
“Fuck! That was an incredible play!”
Colega – “Buddy” or “Friend”
This slang word often replaces amigo when spoken in Spain. In other dialects it means “co-worker”. When using this phrase, because it’s slang, you don’t have to change the ending to be gender-specific. Colega is fine for both men and women.
Hola, colega. ¿Qué pasa?
“Hey, friend. What’s up?”
Los Viejos – “Parents / Old Folks”
This phrase is similar to calling your parents your “‘rents” in English, or your dad your “old man”. It means “the elderly”, so it’s not the best thing you could call your parents. It’s typically used in a light-hearted and affectionate way:
Los viejos pueden ser guay a veces.
“My ‘rents can be cool sometimes.”
No Pasa Nada – “No Worries”
This literally means “nothing is happening.” It’s used to say “no worries” or “no problem”. If someone thanks you for doing them a favour, you can reply with this.
Ey, gracias por todo hoy.
No pasa nada, colega.
“Hey, thanks for everything today.”
“No problem, buddy.”
Majo – “Pleasant” or “Attractive”
In your Spanish textbooks, you may have learned simpático means “nice” or “friendly”. And it does… But it’s more natural to hear majo or maja in Spain. Besides meaning “friendly”, “nice” or “pleasant”, it can also be used to describe someone as “pretty”.
¡Vaya! Tu colega José es muy majo.
“Wow! Your friend José is really nice.”
Empanado – “Spaced Out”
Empanado means something is breaded, and empanada is a pastry. (Or… a woman’s private parts in some Spanish-speaking countries, so be careful where you say it.) But in Spain, empanado can also mean you feel sluggish, or you’re spaced out and forgetful.
Soy todo empanado. Olvidé mis llaves, otra vez.
“I’m all spaced out. I forgot my keys again.”
Cabrearse – “Pissed Off”
When you’re feeling furious, or pissed off, you can use this phrase to more accurately describe your frustration. It is a bit strong, so watch who you say it to.
Soy muy cabrearse. Alguien robó mi cartera.
“I’m so pissed off. Someone stole my wallet.”
Bocachancla – “Gossip”
This one is a funny expression to me. It literally means “flip flop mouth”, because someone keeps talking smack like flip flops smack the ground when you walk. This person is a gossip, a big mouth, or likes to “run their mouth” about someone else. It can also be used to call someone an idiot or asshole.
Deja de ser tan bocachancla, Tina
“Stop being such a big mouth, Tina.”
Tío / Tía – “Dude” or “Chick”
Tío and tía mean “uncle” and “aunt” in most Spanish-speaking countries. And they do in Spain as well, but they’re more often used to call someone a “guy” and “girl”, or “dude” and “chick”. You can call your friends this, or even refer to strangers as tío and tía.
¡Ey tío! ¿Cómo te va?
“Hey man! How’s it going?”
Pijo – “Snobby”
Someone who is un pijo or una pija is a brat, or a spoiled kid. It can also be used to call someone snobby, stuck up, or condescending. It’s like calling someone una fresa (“a strawberry”) in Mexican Spanish slang. Similarly, you can call someone a gilipollas – a “douchebag”.
Ella siempre es tan grosera conmigo. Ella es tan pija.
“She’s always so rude to me. She’s such a snob.”
Baboso – “Dummy*
Baboso means “slimy”, but as slang, it means someone is an idiot or a dummy.
No seas baboso.
“Don’t be an idiot.”
Spanish Slang Phrases
The below Spanish slang phrases are from Castilian Spanish, the dialect used in Spain.
Ser la Leche – “Cool”, “Sick”
This phrase can mean something is cool, someone has swagger, or even something is awful. It’s used like “sick” in English, where it can be positive or negative.
Esa película fue la leche.
“That movie was cool.”
Él piensa que es la leche. Es muy molesto.
“He thinks he’s all that. It’s really annoying.”
Me Cago en la Leche – “Piss Off”
A pretty vulgar (but amusing) Spanish slang phrase is Me cago en la leche. It literally means “I crap in the milk”. It’s short for the much longer phrase Me cago en la leche de la puta que te date la luz, which means “I crap in the milk of the whore who gave birth to you”. Yes, Spaniards went there. And yes, it’s a common insult.
In fact, Spaniards love to us me cago en… for… many things. You can “crap in” anything in Spain to add injury to insult.
Another one with leche, you can use mala leche (“bad milk”) to say you’re in a bad mood.
Me cago en la leche. Déjame solo.
“You’re pissing me off. Leave me alone.”
*Estar Como una Cabra” – “A Nutcase”
If someone is really crazy, you can say they’re a “nut job” or “nutcase” by saying Está como una cabra, which means “Like a goat”. Goats are pretty unpredictable, and have a crazy scream, so this saying makes sense when you think about it.
¡Está como una cabra! ¿Viste lo que hizo?
“He’s crazy! Did you see what he did?”
Ir a Su Bola – “To Do Your Own Thing”
This phrase literally translates as “go to your ball”, but it means “to do your own thing”. It’s used with a negative undertone, though. It implies the person’s blowing off other people, or what they’re doing isn’t rational.
Mi hijo va a su bola, incluso si eso significa hacerse daño.
“My son does his own thing, even if it means getting hurt.”
Me Importa un Pimiento – “I Couldn’t Care Less”
This means “It’s as important as a pepper”. You use it to say something doesn’t matter, or you don’t care.
*Me importa un pimiento el juego. Prefiero ver una película.”
“I couldn’t care less about the game. I’d rather watch a movie.”
Estar en Pelotas – “Buttnaked”
Pelotas is like cojones, or “balls”. So this one means, “to be in balls”, or “to be buttnaked”.
¡Tuve un sueño que estaba en pelotas frente de todo la clase!
“I had a dream I was buttnaked in front of the class!”
Now It’s Your Turn
Ready to go forth and use some of these crazy Spanish slang phrases? You’ll sound muy guay when you visit Spain and chat with your friends.
What other Castilian Spanish slang words or phrases do you know? Share your favourites 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.