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Nicaraguan Spanish 101: Slang, Phrases, & More

The Spanish of Nicaragua is an extremely special and beautiful dialect. From their expressive phrases, humble people, and use of voseo. I can’t think of a good reason to not learn this dialect.

The Nicaraguan dialect is like a perfect mixture of Central American Dialects like that of El Salvador, mixed with the Caribbean dialects such as that of the Dominican Republic.

Without further ado, let’s learn some words, phrases, and pronunciation patterns found in the dialect of “The Nicas”.


picture of the nicaraguan flag with nicaraguan cartoon characters in front of it and words that say "The spanish of nicaragua"

Summary of Nicaraguan Spanish

Some of the most common Nicaraguan words that you should learn before communicating with a Nica are:

  • Chiche - Easy

  • Tuani - Cool

  • Tapinear - To drink alcohol

  • Jaño/a - A man/woman

  • Tula - Funny

Now for Nicaraguan phrases, here are some of the most used that you should learn:

  • Uy qué peluche - What a baby

  • Me pelaron - They robbed me

  • Está salvaje - It’s super nice

  • Pareces un jugador de cegua - You have no clue what you’re doing

Read the whole article to see more words and phrases, as well as some of their explanations!

The vocabulary of Nicaraguan Spanish

The nicaraguan flag with a graphic of a chat box that says "The Nicaraguan Vocabulary"

Tuani (Que) - Cool 😎

Tuani is a word used in Costa Rica as well, the difference is that when Nicaraguans write it and pronounce it, they take off the S at the end. This word just means cool, for example in the sentence:

¡Guau me gusta esos zapatos! ¡Qué tuani!

(Wow I love those shoes, how cool!)

Tapudo/a - Liar 🤥

If somebody is tapudo in Nicaragua, that means that they either have no credibility, and can’t be trusted, or that if you tell them something they will go around telling people your business.

Chiche - Easy 👌

Chiche in some dialects means lovely, but in Nicaragua it means easy. For example, if you want to say:

Ay eso sólo me tomó 3 minutos, está chiche

(Ah that only took me 3 minutes, it’s easy)

Fachento - Showoff 🤴

If somebody says you're fachenteando this means two things - they think you’re a showoff, and they are definitely Nicaraguan.

Guau qué fachento ese chico

(wow that kid is such a showoff)

Tapinear - To drink alcohol 🥃🍸

This is a super Nicaraguan word. Tapinear means to drink alcohol and is used exclusively for this. For example:

Ey querés tapinear después de trabajar?

(Hey you want to drink after work?)

Pidigüeno - Somebody who asks you for things 🙏

This word is a bit weird to translate, but it basically means a person who is always asking you for something. For example:

¿Puedo comer la otra tortilla? - No, yo tengo hambre, deja de estar pidigüeno

(Can I eat the other tortilla? - No, I’m hungry, stop begging)

Tula - Funny 😹

Tula can mean two things in Nicaragua, one - somebody that is funny, or two - a nosey person. But rest assured it would be easy to know in what context the word is being used. For example:

Jaja sos bien tula Sara

(Haha you are really funny Sarah)

Charquito - Scared 😱

You can use the word “asustado” (meaning fearful) in Nicaragua, but they also have their own word for that. This word can be used like in the following sentence:

¿Qué te pasó José? Vos te ves charquito

(What happened to you José? You look scared)

Maje - Idiot/dummy 🤓

Maje is not just used in Nicaragua, matter of fact it’s also used in just about all the bordering countries as well! Maje just means dummy or idiot. This can also be used in a nice way like the word boludo in the Argentine Dialect - Which means dummy but is used between friends. For example:

Jaja ese maje nunca aprende

(Haha that dummy never learns)

Chinelas 👡

If you need to buy some slippers in Nicaragua, you should probably be asking for Chinelas and not Chanclas. For example:

Ay señor, ¿ustedes venden chinelas?

(Hey sir, do you guys sell slippers?)

Jaño/a - A man/woman 🕴💃

Of course, the word mujer is valid inside the borders of Nicaragua, but if you want to really connect with the culture, use the word jaña instead. For ex:

Ideay ¿Viste esa jaña? qué hermosa

(OMG, did you see that woman? How beautiful)

Ideay - Gosh 😮

If you noticed the use of this word in the last example and said to yourself “What the heck is ideay” - good job! Just making sure you’re paying attention! Ideay means something like Gosh, Wow, My goodness. For example:

Ideay, esta tormenta está de locos

(Wow this storm is nuts)

Chispero - A lighter 🧨

Whereas in most Latino American countries you can get away with saying, un encendedor, or un fuego - in Nicaragua, they say un chispero:

¿Podés pasarme el chispero?

(Can you hand me the lighter)

Queque - Cake 🎂

You know the word pastel right? Well, the Nicaraguans got their own word for that, and it sounds a lot like ours. They call cake queque:

Mañana es su cumpleaños vamos a comprarle un queque

(Tomorrow is his birthday, let’s buy him a cake)

Guaro - Liquor 🍾

If somebody offers you guaro, it’s probably going to be a very strong liquor.

¿Ay maje querés tapinear este guaro conmigo?

(Hey dummy wanna drink this liquor with me?)

Chunchada - Thingy 🍡

This is just like the word vaina used in many other Latin American countries. It just means thing or thingy, and it’s used especially when you can't (or don’t care to) remember the name of an object.

¿Podés pasarme la chuchada esa?

(Can you pass me that thingy?)

Phrases That Are Unique To Nicaraguan Spanish

A nicaraguan flag with animated people talking infront of it and letters that say "Nicaraguan Phrases"

Uy qué peluche - What a baby 🧸

This is a weird phrase to explain because literally, it means something like “what a teddy bear”. This phrase is used when somebody isn’t strong, or tall enough to do something. For example, somebody can’t lift a weight in the gym:

¿Eh no podés levantarlo? Uy qué peluche

(What, you can't pick it up? Ay what a baby)

Me pelaron - They robbed me 🤦‍♂️

In many Latino American Countries, it’s totally normal to say “me robaron” but in Nicaragua, you might hear that “me pelaron” which means “they peeled me”. Ex:

Yo regresé a la casa sin nada, me pelaron todo

(I returned home with nothing, they robbed everything from me)

Está salvaje - It’s super nice 🙀

In Nicaragua, you will probably hear somebody say something “is wild”. This just means that they really like it, or it's crazy. For example:

Ay ese vestido está salvaje

(How that dress is lovely)

Calma piojo que la noche es larga - Have patience ✌️

This phrase is one of my favorites from the Nicaraguan dialect, a piojo is a little bug, and so the phrase literally means calm down bug the night is long. And this is just an idiom to say have patience.

Tenerte acalambrado - To have you scared 😨

In this beautiful country, if somebody has you cramped, you should run. Because in Nicaragua to have you cramped means to have you genuinely scared. For Ex:

Yo corrí muy rápido, ese tipo me tuvo acalambrado!

(I ran very fast, that dude had me super scared)

Pareces un jugador de cegua - You have no clue what you’re doing 😳

This phrase is kind of goofy, it means literally - something like “you seem like a blind player”. For example, if you are trying to cook your mom's recipe, and you’re confused on the next step - she might walk up behind you and say:

Pareces un jugador de cegua, te ayudo

(You look clueless, I’ll help you)

The Nicaraguan Spanish Pronunciation

Nicaraguan Flags with a cartoon nicaraguan standing on the map of nicaragua and words that say "Nicaraguan Pronunciation"

The disappearance of the S

In Nicaraguan Spanish, it’s super common to hear the S disappear from words. For example in the sentence:

Vos sos muy estúpido a veces (Standard Spanish)

Vo’ so’ muy e’túpido a vece’ (Nicaraguan Dialect)

The aspirated S

Usually, if the S is pronounced, it will sound like a breathy H for example:

Vos sos chistoso (Standard Spanish)

Voh’ soh’ chih’toso (Nicaraguan Dialect)

The Nicaraguan Spanish Grammar

The good thing about Nicaraguan Grammar is that the only major difference worth mentioning is that they use Vos instead of Tú. If you want to better understand this concept which is referred to as Voseo - check out this article where I explain everything you need to know about it.

But luckily for us, unlike the Chilean dialect for example, Nicaragua follows the standard vos conjugations like in most of Argentina for example.

The use of Vos - Basics

If you don’t know already, Vos is just a replacement for the personal pronoun . However, with the change of pronouns also comes new sets of conjugations. But don’t worry, they are easy to learn. For example:

To conjugate in the present tense for vos, remove the ending of the verb and conjugate accordingly:

If it's an IR verb, remove IR and replace it with ÍS (Ex: Escribir = Escribís)

If it's an ER verb, remove ER and replace it with ÉS (Ex: Aprender = Aprendés)

If it's an AR verb, remove AR and replace it with ÁS (EX: Hablar = Hablás)

Not too bad right? If you want to better understand all of the voseo conjugations check out this article where we do a deep dive that will have you speaking in vos within 10 minutes.

Conclusion: Nicaraguan Spanish

The Nicaraguan Spanish Dialect is a unique set of phrases and vocabulary that can help you not just communicate, but rather connect with the people from this country.

I have interacted with many Nicaraguans and have never met a rude one, so if you choose to learn this dialect, I am sure you will make a lot of Nicaraguan friends in your lifetime.

If you recently visited Nicaragua and know some words you would like to see on this list, send them to me in the comments and I would love to add them!

If you’re interested in learning about other Spanish dialects check out this playlist we are doing called “Dialect Breakdowns” where we talk about every Spanish-speaking country's dialect.

Have a wonderful day/evening/night!

- Ben


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