Mexican Slang: 15 of the Most Common Phrases and Words | Newsdle

Mexican Slang: 15 of the Most Common Phrases and Words


Mexican Spanish is one of the most spoken and widespread Spanish variants.   

Only in Mexico, there are over 125 million people who speak this variant of Spanish, which is the mother tongue of 93.8% and the second language of 5.4% of the Mexican population. 

This means that learning this variant is your direct gateway to Mexico's colourful culture, connecting you with millions of people throughout the world via a common language and heritage. 

Songs and TV shows such as Coco, La Reina del Sur or La casa de las flores not only offer important insights into Mexican culture and society, but are the easiest way to pick up true Mexican phrases and Mexican slang. 

But what are some of the most common Mexican slang terms? 

Mexican Spanish: More Than Just Slang 

You may have already heard people calling Mexican Spanish "Mexican slang" to differentiate it from the "standard" one, and there is no doubt that Mexican Spanish is different from Castilian Spanish. 

However, its complex structure of grammar rules, regionalisms, and cultural expressions go well beyond simple slang! 

An example of cultural differences portrayed into the language, Mexican Spanish favours casual "" over formal "usted" because of the culture's focus on warmth and familiarity during conversation. 

Also, it often has a softer pronunciation of consonants, it benefits from influences from indigenous languages such as Nahuatl, and its different lexicon is a beautiful melting pot of native cultures, colonial history, and modern influences.  

Why Is Learning about Mexican Spanish Important? 

Understanding Mexican Spanish is extremely important not only in terms of culture and society, but you can also benefit from it when it comes to business and your job.  

To break this concept down, and starting from the cultural term, studying Mexican Spanish provides insights into Mexico's rich past, history, and diverse people. It is your bridge to greater engagement with Mexican culture and meaningful relationships with local speakers. 

Concerning business, it may lead to work prospects, especially in fields such as tourism, international commerce, and education. 


15 of the Most Common Mexican Phrases 

The following fifteen terms are just a few of the most common Mexican slang words or daily expressions. 

1. Aguas 

"Aguas" is a colloquial term used in Mexico to warn someone to be cautious or watchful, usually in reaction to a possible risk or threat. The history of this term is pretty fascinating! Before the invention of toilets, people disposed of their waste by tossing it out of windows onto the streets below. Residents would cry "¡Aguas!" to warn others of the approaching danger from above, literally meaning "waters" to notify others to avoid the falling waste. 

  • Example: "¡Aguas! El piso está mojado." 

2. Apapacho 

"Apapacho" is a warm and affectionate hug or cuddle, often given to express love, comfort, or support. It's a tender gesture that conveys affection and caring feelings towards someone. 

  • Example: "Después de un día difícil, necesito un apapacho." 

3. Bueno 

"Bueno" is one of the most flexible Mexican words as it has several meanings. Depending on the context, it might mean agreement, confirmation, approval, or recognition. However, this term is used to answer a phone call in Mexico! 

Its origins date back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Initially, both the installations and the telephone service were quite bad. So, before saying anything, one might inquire if the connection was effective with a simple "bueno." Once responded, the talk would continue as normal. 

  • Example: ¿Bueno? 

4. Chale 

"Chale" is an informal expression frequently used in Mexican Spanish to convey disappointment, frustration, or disagreement. It's an interjection that signifies dissatisfaction with a situation or outcome, similar to saying "Oh no" or "Darn" in English. 

  • Example: "Chale, perdí el autobús." 

5. Chamba 

"Chamba" is a Mexican slang term that refers to work, employment, or a job. It's commonly used in informal contexts to describe one's occupation or the act of working. 

  • Example: "Tengo mucha chamba esta semana." 

6. Chido/a 

"Chido" or "Chida" is a casual expression used to describe something as cool, awesome, or great. It's often employed to express admiration or approval for a person, object, event, or experience. 

  • Example: "¡Qué chida está esta canción!" 

7. Chingón/a 

"Chingón" (masculine) or "Chingona" (feminine) is a strong and expressive Mexican slang term used to denote something or someone as impressive, excellent, or outstanding. It carries a sense of admiration and respect. 

  • Example: "Esa película estuvo bien chingona." 

8. Cuate 

"Cuate" is an informal term in Mexican Spanish that refers to a close friend, buddy, or pal. It's commonly used among peers to denote a strong friendship and familiarity. 

  • Example: "Mi cuate me ayudó con la mudanza." 

9. Güey 

"Güey," also spelled and pronounced "wey," is a universal Mexican slang word that serves as a versatile pronoun similar to "dude" or "guy" in English. It's often used among friends or acquaintances in casual conversations. 

  • Example: "¿Qué onda, güey?" 

10. No manches 

"No manches" is an expressive phrase used to convey disbelief, astonishment, or incredulity. It's typically employed in response to surprising or unexpected events, similar to saying "No way" or "You're kidding" in English. 

  • Example: "¡No manches, ganamos el partido!" 

11. Órale 

"Órale" is a versatile and multifunctional expression with various meanings depending on the context. It can signify encouragement, agreement, surprise, urgency, or approval, among other things. 

  • Example: "¡Órale, vámonos!" 

12. Padre 

"Padre" is a colloquial term in Mexican Spanish that is used to describe something as cool, enjoyable, or exciting. It's often used to express admiration or satisfaction with a particular situation, experience, or event. 

  • Example: "La fiesta estuvo muy padre." 

13. Qué onda 

"Qué onda" is an informal greeting or salutation commonly used in Mexican Spanish. It's equivalent to asking "What's up?" or "How's it going?" and is often used to initiate a conversation or inquire about someone's well-being. 

  • Example: "¿Qué onda, cómo estás?" 

14. Vieja 

"Vieja" is a slang and an informal way of addressing or referring to one's romantic partner or very close friend. It is commonly used among young people as you would use "girl" or "guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurl" in English. 

  • Example: "Voy a salir con mi vieja esta noche." 

15. Neta 

"Neta" is a Mexican slang word used to emphasise the sincerity, truthfulness, or authenticity of something. It's often employed to stress the genuineness or legitimacy of a statement, assertion, or sentiment. 

  • Example: "Te lo digo de neta, ella es muy talentosa." 

Some Mexican Slang Words and Phrases to Sound Like a Local 

Ready for some more local and advanced Mexican slang? 


1. Aguantar barra 

"Aguantar barra"  literally means "to hold the bar", but in Mexican slang, it refers to enduring or putting up with something difficult or unpleasant. It's like gritting your teeth and holding on when faced with a challenging situation. 

  • Example: "Tuve que aguantar barra durante las largas horas del concierto, parado en la multitud sin descansos." 

2. Chalán 

A "chalán"  is a person who works as an assistant, helper or labourer, often in manual labour or simple tasks. It is similar to the term "mandadero" in Spanish. 

  • Example: "El chalán ayudó con el trabajo de construcción cargando materiales pesados y asistiendo a los trabajadores en el sitio." 

3. Chavorruco 

"Chavoruco" is a colloquial Mexican slang word used to describe someone who is in middle age but still behaves or dresses in a youthful or outdated manner. It is a mix of "chavo" (young person) and "ruco" (older person), suggesting someone caught between generations. 

  • Example: "A pesar de tener cuarenta años, aún se viste con jeans holgados y escucha música de los años 90—¡es todo un chavorruco!" 

4. Dale con Tonio 

"Dale con Tonio" is a Mexican phrase used to encourage someone to persist or continue with their efforts, often in a determined or enthusiastic manner. It is like saying "Keep it up!" or "Go for it!" with a bit of encouragement. 

  • Example: "¡Vas muy bien con tus estudios, sigue así! ¡Dale con Tonio!" 

5. Dar cosa 

"Dar cosa" is a phrase used to express discomfort towards something, often because of its strangeness, unpleasantness or awkwardness. It is like saying that something gives you the creeps or makes you feel strange. 

  • Example: "Esa película de terror me da dar cosa cada vez que la veo—la música espeluznante y la atmósfera tenebrosa son demasiado." 

6. Dizque 

"Dizque" is a catch-all word used to express scepticism or doubt about something that has been said or asserted. It is similar to "supposedly" or "apparently" in Mexican. 

  • Example: "Dizque es el mejor jugador del equipo, pero nunca lo he visto anotar un gol." 

7. Disparar 

"Disparar" literally means "to throw" or "to shoot". However, in Mexican Spanish, the verb "disparar" can be used informally to mean "to offer" or "to treat" someone to something, such as dinner or drinks. 

  • Example: "¡Tranquilo, yo disparo la cena esta noche!" 

8. Maco 

"Maco" refers to someone who is elegant, fashionable or sophisticated. 

  • Example: "Siempre se viste tan elegantemente, con su ropa de diseñador y su estilo impecable—definitivamente es maco." 

9. Naco 

"Naco", instead, is a derogatory term used to describe someone perceived as low class, uneducated or vulgar.  

  • Example: "Usar calcetines con sandalias se considera naco en algunos círculos, pero otros lo ven como una declaración de moda cómoda." 

10. Ñoña 

"Ñoña" is a term used to describe someone perceived as nerdy, geeky or overly intellectual. It is like calling someone a "nerd" or a "bookworm". 

  • Example: "Pasa todo su tiempo libre leyendo libros y estudiando—no es de extrañar que la llamen ñoña." 

11. No seas malito/a 

"No seas malito/a"  is an affectionate way of telling someone not to be naughty or mischievous, but it’s also a very Mexican way to ask for favours, no matter how small. 

  • Example: "No seas malita. Espérame tantito, ¿sí?" 

12. No tienes madre 

This is one of many Mexican expressions involving "madre", mother, and it means “to have no shame”. 

  • Example: "¡No tienes madre! ¿Cómo puedes hacer eso sin ningún respeto por los demás?"

13. ¡Qué poca madre! 

"¡Qué poca madre!" is a vulgar expression that means "What nerve!" or "How dare you/they!". A way to soften the impact is to abbreviate it to "¡Qué poca!"  or to substitute "madre" with "abuela". 

  • Example: "¡Qué poca madre! ¿Cómo te atreves a difundir mentiras sobre mí?"

14. Rifársela 

"Rifársela" is a colloquial expression meaning to excel or succeed at something. It is like saying "do a great job",  "show your skills" or "to give it one’s all". 

  • Example: "Realmente se la rifó en la competencia de cocina, impresionando a los jueces con sus habilidades culinarias." 

15. Ver la cara 

"Ver la cara" or "verle la cara a alguien" is a common expression that means to take someone for a fool. 

  • Example: "No quieras verme la cara" 

Tips: Learn Mexican Spanish before Going to Mexico 

If you're unable to travel to Mexico but still want to pick up some Mexican slang, there are several ways you can do that from the comfort of your home: 

  • Online Resources: Explore websites, forums, and social media platforms where Mexican Spanish is commonly used. Engage with native speakers, ask questions, and observe how they use slang and expressions in their conversations. 
  • Mexican Movies and TV Shows: Stream Mexican films, TV series, and documentaries. Pay attention to the dialogue, expressions, and gestures used by the characters. You can find some titles on Reddit. 
  • Mexican Music: Listen to Mexican music across various genres.  Pay attention to the lyrics and try to understand the slang and colloquialisms used by the artists. 
  • Mexican Literature: Explore books, articles, and blogs written by Mexican authors or journalists. 
  • Language Exchange: Participate in language exchange programs or online language forums where you can connect with native Spanish speakers, including Mexicans. Practice conversing with them and ask for feedback on your usage of Mexicanisms. 
  • Online Courses: Enrol in online Spanish courses or language-learning platforms that offer lessons specifically focused on Mexican Spanish. 
  • Cultural Events: Look for Mexican cultural events, festivals, or gatherings in your local area. Attend workshops, lectures, or performances where you can interact with Mexican expatriates or individuals passionate about Mexican culture. 


Fabia Parodi

Fabia Parodi  

Fascinated by foreign languages and cultures, Fabia Parodi was determined to be a polyglot since she was a child. Fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish and competent in Mandarin Chinese, Fabia is an experienced language teacher, translator and multicultural marketing specialist. 

When in class, she always make sure to include graded and authentic materials in her lessons to expose students to foreign cultures and to introduce a more natural use of the language they are learning. The two things she loves more than languages are travelling and exchanging stories with people from all over the world.  


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