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The Spanish of Mexico: Slang, Phrases, & More

Today we’ll be talking about a dialect that refers to snobs as “strawberries”, good things as “fathers” and being drunk as “being a fart”.

Welcome to Mexico wey - the country with the funniest, and most animated colloquial vocabulary of all.


In this article, we'll explore the awesome features, indigenous vocabulary, and intriguing quirks that make Mexican Spanish so special.


So, buckle up, and let's embark on this exciting language journey together!


a sign that says "to mexico"

UNIQUE VOCABULARY OF MEXICO

The vocabulary of Mexican Spanish is extremely animated and expressive.


In this section, we’ll be going over the most commonly used Mexican words that can be heard in almost any Mexican podcast or conversation.


Let’s get started!



Chingón - Super good 👌

To say that something is a “chingón” is to say that it is badass, brilliant, or exciting.

So for example:


“Regina es una bailarina chingona”

(Regina is a beast of a dancer)


“El concierto fue chingón”

(The concert was awesome)


Fresa - Snobby 💁

If someone is called a “fresa” in Mexico that means that they are “stuck up” or “snobby” for example in the sentence:


“A ese bar solo va la gente fresa”

(Only snobby people go to that bar)


“A ver, niña fresa - nadie quiere escucharte hablar ahora mismo, oíste?

(hey snobby girl, nobody wants to hear you talking right now, ya understand?)


Chido - Cool 😎

Chido is just like the word cool in English and doesn’t call for much explanation. A couple of examples of how it might be used in Mexico are:


“Ey wey me gusta el carro nuevo es bien chido!”

(Hey bro I like the new car it’s hella cool)


“Qué chido que tienen una casa en Cancún”

(How cool that you guys have a house in Cancun)


Güey - Dude 🧑

Güey is used to mean “guy” or “dude” in Mexican Spanish.

For example:


“Nunca me cayó bien ese güey”

(I never liked that guy)


“Tranquilo güey, sólo estamos bromeando”

(Chill dude, we’re just joking)


Neta - Truth 🧐

The word “neta” in Mexico is used to refer to the truth, or to the “best”

for example:


“Ya güey dime la neta”

(Come on man tell me the truth)


“Ese wey cree que es la neta del mundo”

(That dude thinks he’s the best in the world)


Padrísimo - Super fun/exciting/great 🙌

This word is used to basically just say something is really great with a lot of emphasis.

For example:


“Sí nuestro viaje fue padrísimo”

(Yeah our trip was super great)


“El guión es padrísimo”

(The script is super good!)



Chavo/Chamaco - Young boy 👦

A chavo or chamaco is just used to say a “guy” or a “kid” and

can be used like this:


“Juan es el chavo más inteligente de la clase”

(Juan is the smartest kid in the class)


“Ese chavo blaco por allí lo hizo”

(That white guy over there did)


Chela - Beer 🍻

Chela is just a word that Mexicans use to refer to a “cerveza” (a beer) for example they might say:


“Se me antoja una chela bien fría”

(I am craving an ice-cold beer)



Indigenous words

One of the Indigenous languages that most affected the day-to-day speech of Mexicans is the “Nahuatl Language”.


Some of the examples of this you might hear are:


indigenous mexicans

Turkey - Guajolote (Pavo) 🦃

The word for “turkey” in the average Spanish-speaking country will be “pavo”.

However, in Mexico, the word they use is “Guajolote”



Owl - Tecolote (Búho) 🦉

If you know a word in Spanish for “an owl” then it’s probably “Búho”.

However, in the Spanish spoken in Mexico, they say “Tecolote”.


Chewing gum - Chicle 👄

Although in Spain it might be heard as “Goma de mascar”, in Mexico and many other parts of Latino America they say "Chicle" which comes from the “Nahuatl Language”.



Diminutives in Mexico

Mexicans can be caught at any hour of the day using diminutives (words with endings that make them “small versions of themselves).


Here are some examples of how diminutives are used in the Mexican dialect of Spanish.


ito/ita - For example: | Carlos = Carlosito | Zapatos = Zapatitos | Muchacho = Muchachito |


illo/illa - For example: | Café = Cafecillo | Plato = Platillo | Planta = Plantilla |


examples using the diminutive in spanish

COMMON EXPRESSIONS

If you haven’t studied the Spanish spoken in Mexico and you listen to a Mexican podcast, you will probably get lost in all the unique expressions they use.


In this section, we’ll review the most commonly used expressions and what they mean!



¿Qué onda? - What’s up? 👋

This is a super common phrase that you can hear being used in day-to-day Mexican speech.

Qué onda means “What’s up?” or it can be used to ask about the situation of something. For example:


“¿Qué onda wey?”

(What’s up bro?)


“¿Qué onda con tú y ella?”

(What is it with you and her?)



¡Qué padre! 😻

This phrase is used just like “how cool!” is used in English

for example:


“Voy a comprar un carro esta semana” “O sí? ¡Qué padre!”

(I am going to buy a car this week - Oh yeah? How cool!)



¡Chinga tu madre! 😡

Oufff I hope you don’t have somebody telling you this, but if you do, they are saying “F*** off!” Although the sentence literally means “F*** your mother” - Ouch!



A chingá - En serio?🤔

A chingá is still a dirty phrase but it's less intense than the last one. This just means “Oh really?” - but is only used between friends. For example:


“Mi novia me dejó anoche. - ¡A chingá!” -

(My girlfriend broke up with me last night - oh really?”)



¡Aguas! - Heads up! 😱

This phrase means “watch out” or “heads up” and it has an interesting backstory.


This phrase was originally used when people used to toss the contents of their sewage buckets out their windows (before modern-day plumbing).


They would yell “¡Aguas!” meaning “waters!” to alert anyone who might be in the splash zone.


A huevo! - Hell yeah! 👏

This phrase is very unique to Mexico and means the same thing as our English phrase “hell yeah!”


¡No manches!/¡No mames! - No way! For real!? 😹

If you listen to an hour of Mexicans conversing, at least once you will hear these phrases.

This phrase just means something like “No way!” or “For real?”


Él está bien pedo (he is really drunk) 😵

Mexicans will definitely understand if you use the more standard word for drunk (borracho). However, it is more common for Mexicans to refer to being drunk as being “pedo” which means being “fart”..?


Me vale madres (I don't care) 🤷‍♂️

The last phrase where we are using the words, mom or dad. “Me vale madres” literally means "It’s worth mothers to me" and in context means “I don’t care” or “I don’t give a sh**”.


Watch who you use this one with, and make sure you're relationship is on an informal level with them!


How difficult is Mexican Spanish to learn?

On a scale of 1-10, Mexican Spanish falls in the middle at the 5 mark. The Mexican Spanish accent generally isn’t hard to understand and comes with a cadence that is not too difficult to follow along with. The difficulty comes about when Mexicans are talking to each other because they use lots of unique colloquial words.


If you want to be able to truly understand Mexican Spanish - you will need to learn an additional 200 words.


mexican flag


NOTABLE CHANGES IN THE CONSONANTS

I have actually debated with people as to why I think the Mexican dialect is not very standard. It seems that the mainstream perspective about Mexican Spanish is that it's super clear and has little changes.


The reason people think this is because of the pronunciation which has very few surprises or modifications from standard LatinAm Spanish.



No “TH” For Z’s and C’s

If you are learning Spanish from Spain this will be the most important thing to mention about the pronunciation.


In Spain when the Z’s and C’s make a “TH” sound, in Mexico (and almost all of LatinAm) it will be a Z’ or S’ sound.


Ex. Zapato:

Spain (Tha-pa-toe)

Mexico (Za-pa-toe)


Y/LL Sounds like a Ya + Ja

In Mexican Spanish a very neutral and standard “Y/ll” sound is typical


which sounds a bit like if you mixed the sound of the English Y’ like in the word “Yearn” and the J’ like in the word “Journey”.


beautiful mexican town


Conclusion: The Spanish of Mexico

As we wrap up our exploration of Mexican Spanish, it's clear that this vibrant dialect is a reflection of the rich and diverse culture of Mexico. From its colorful vocabulary to its lively expressions, Mexican Spanish adds a unique flavor to the world of the Spanish language.


Whether you're captivated by the playful idioms, or simply fascinated by the distinct Mexican accent... Embracing Mexican Spanish is an exciting journey that opens doors to deeper cultural connections and enriches your language skills.


¡Viva El Español Mexicano!


If you want to learn how to choose the right Spanish dialect, check out my article "Choosing the Right Spanish Dialect: A Personal Journey"





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