Mexican slang

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10 Mexican Spanish words and phrases you need to know

Traveling to Mexico can be an incredible experience – exploring the culture, cuisine, history, and everything this amazing country has to offer. But it’s even better if you can converse with the locals while you’re there. Learners of Spanish might be surprised by some of the uniquely Mexican turns of phrase you are likely to hear.

Here, we list a few of the most commonly encountered Mexican slang phrases (‘jerga’). If you can master the art of using these words at the right moments, then you will endear yourself to the native speakers no end.

  1. No Mames! / No Manches! (‘No kidding!’ or ‘No way!’). Literally: don’t suckle / don’t stain! The latter of the two options is the slightly more relaxed version.
  2. Aguas! (‘Watch out!’). Literally: waters! This is a versatile word that is commonly used to warn of potential dangers. It’s kind of like a more casual version of the Spanish phrase Ten cuidado or ‘Take care’. Be careful with the pronunciation: it’s ah-uas (silent g).
  3. Crudo/cruda (literally: raw): this means you are feeling a bit worse for wear (hungover) after a night out.
  4. Qué pedo? / No hay pedo! (what’s up? / no problem!) – pedo literally means a ‘fart’ in Spanish, but it’s also used in Mexico to mean a ‘problem’. So if someone asks you Qué pedo? it’s kind of like asking ‘what’s up?’ and, similarly, No hay pedo loosely means ‘not a problem’.
  5. Órale! (Wow!) – derived originally from ahora (-ora), this is a general expression of surprise.
  6. Chido/chida (Cool) – you might hear this in fixed phrases such as ‘está chido’ (it’s cool) or ‘qué chido!’ (that’s cool!).
  7. Qué padre! (That’s cool!) – Padre literally means ‘father’ but in Mexican Spanish it generally means ‘cool’ . Very similar to chido/chida.
  8. Chingón/chingona (Bad ass / cool) – used to refer to anything hip / awesome. this one is very casual and should be avoided in formal situations.
  9. Un chingo de (A ton of / lots of) – used to refer to an innumerable quantity of something. Kind of like a Mexican version of the more general Spanish phrase ‘un monton de’ (a mountain of).
  10. Chale! (What a pity! / You’re kidding) – used to express disappointment or disapproval of something.

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