Traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, can be one of the most exhilarating things you do in your life, but if you don’t speak the language or don’t understand slang phrases, it can also be one of the most nerve wracking. While most people in the tourist destinations in Mexico speak some level of English, you may find yourself wanting to practice your Spanish to converse with the locals.
If you've been learning the language or are hoping to start, knowing some of the most common slang words and expressions can be extremely helpful. However, it is important to note that while Mexicans speak Spanish, some Mexican words can be quite different from those used in other Spanish speaking nations.
Here are a few Mexican slang words you’ll want to add to your repertoire, but remember, these aren’t universal. Mexican phrases are known to be different from the Spanish slang you’ll hear elsewhere. Whether you learn a few of these funny Mexican phrases or you memorize them all, you’ll have a great time impressing the locals with your linguistic skills.
Feria (fair-e-a) - Money. Most commonly referred to as dinero (dee-nair-o), feria is Spanish slang for something you’ll need almost everywhere you go.
Echar la mano (a-char- la maa-no) - To lend a hand. If someone asks you to echar la mano, it means they need your help doing something. You could also say echame la mano if you need assistance in some way. Remember, if the Mexican slang words you’re using involve a verb, it’ll need to be conjugated, but this is for more advanced Spanish speakers.
No manches (no mon-chays) - No way/You’re kidding - If someone is telling you something you can’t believe or you’ve seen something incredulous, exclaim “no manches!” It is one of the funny Mexican phrases because it literally translates to “don’t stain yourself.”
¡A huevo! (Ah way-vo) - Alright! To signal your thrilled about something, use the slang phrase a huevo! Literally translated this means an egg, but as with many slang words and expressions, it has deeper meaning.
Compa (cohm-pa) - Friend. To get someone’s attention, you can call them compa or amigo. It is like saying “hey bud,” before asking for something. You can also use it to say that someone is your friend.
Chido (chee-doh) - Cool. This is one of the most common Mexican phrases used by everyone from little kids to adults to express how cool something is. Esta chido means it’s cool and que chido means how cool is that!
¡Qué padre! (K pa-dre) - That’s cool! Much like chido, que padre is one of the Mexican words used to express the feeling of believing something is cool.
Chela (che-la)- Beer. Likely one of the Mexican words you’ll use a lot on vacation, you can say “pass me a chela por favor” when you want a beer on the beach, at the bar, or in a restaurant.
Aguas (ah-waas) - Watch out! There are so many slang words and expressions to indicate that danger is near, but if you hear aguas (there’s a silent g) then you need to look out for something. It might be a car speeding by, a spider approaching, or just a moment when you need to be careful. You may also hear cuidado, another of the Mexican phrases to say “be careful.”
Crudo (cru-doh) - Hungover. This is one of the slang phrases you’ll hear a lot when vacationing in one of Mexico’s famous tourist destinations. The party scene will leave a lot of people feeling crudo the next day.
Güey / Wey (way)- Dude. Much like “dude” in the 90s, wey is Spanish slang that can be used in almost any situation and in any context. However, you wouldn’t want to use it when making a business deal or speaking formally to your elders.
Chilango (chee-lann-go) - Someone from Mexico City. Because it's one of the most populated cities in the world, you’ll find chilangoswho’ve moved to areas all over the country to escape the city life.
¡Órale! (Ora-lay) - Wow! This is one of the Mexican slang phrases you’ll use when you are surprised or impressed by something.
Chafa (cha-fa) - Something that is of poor quality (“what crap!”). While many items you’ll find in popular Mexican destinations include handmade crafts and unique arts, you’ll also find a slew of cheap souvenirs that are a little chafa, or poorly made.
Hazme un Paro (haz-may oon pa-row) - Do me a favor. If you need a favor, this is one of the slang phrases to use. You can also say “que buen paro” if you want to express your gratitude for something someone has done for you.
Pedo (pay-doh)- A problem, to be drunk, or a fart. This is one of the funny Mexican phrases that has so many meanings, it’ll be hard to keep them all straight. You can have a pedo (problem), be pedo (drunk), or echarte un pedo (fart). You can also use it to greet a friend, qué pedo?, which means “what’s up?” Or you can use it to compliment someone by saying he or she is buen pedo, a good person.