Mexicanismos + linguistic peculiarities

Though every country/culture/language has its own slang, I am inclined to believe that Mexico is home to the best. I’m obviously not biased.


As many others have written similar lists, I’ll try to use only unique phrases I hadn’t seen or heard before meeting D or moving here, as well as ones that have become particularly interesting to me.

The list*:

¡Qué padre! / ¡Qué chido!

Cool! Wow! That’s great! In Maine, I once said qué chido to a student from Mexico and he reacted very oddly, saying that it’s not something girls say. I’ve asked around and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Sociolinguistics research topic?

[Update from a friend: chido isn’t rude, but it’s not a word that “good girls” would use. Mystery partially solved!]

¡Ándale! (usually pronounced aaaaandale)

To indicate agreement or understanding. Another way of saying “ahh, okay, yes, I know what you mean.” Not only reserved for Speedy Gonzales.


Huh? What? Sorry? My new favorite. I picked it up from D’s sister. Haven’t had the courage to try it yet, though. I imagine that if Emma Watson spoke Spanish, she would use this interjection. It just sounds like her.

Unusual usage of gustar

Everyone knows me gusta, right? We learn it in terms of something else being pleasing to us, like: a ella le gusta bailar (interpreted as “she likes to dance,” but literally, “to dance pleases her”). Here, especially when it comes to restaurants or people offering you food or a sample of something, you may hear the server ask “¿Gustan?” as in, want some? The verb is conjugated to match the person/people (often the second-person -as ending) instead of the thing/activity (-a/-an ending), as is custom.

An important distinction

Un chupón is a baby’s pacifier, whereas un chupetón is a hickey. Yet another word I avoid for fear of messing up by mistake (Freudian slip?). Mierda (shit) vs. miedo (fear) is another accident waiting to happen.


On a related note: how to make baby talk

It’s a simple formula (hah!): Rs – and sometimes Ds – become Ls, S/soft C becomes CH. So cerebro (brain) becomes cheleblo. Highly effective when teasing.

La miel

To be la miel literally, “honey” – means to be great or excellent or super nice: la nueva cafeteria de Brody es la miel (the new Brody cafeteria is great).

[Update: may be a misinterpretation on my part. Stay tuned. May potentially mean “sweet” in the way US Americans use it. NEW UPDATE: I’ve determined that this bit of slang was probably invented by D’s friends. We’re doing our best to help it catch on here in CDMX!]


Basically the equivalent of a Mexican Bloody Mary, except with beer instead of vodka. The glass is usually rimmed with salt, powdered chile, and/or tamarind. The best part? They often give you the beer bottle (sometimes a 40!) to finish.


Text-speak and a play-on-words for cuéntame, which means both “tell me” and “count.”

Business terminology

Spaniards will create a new word for one that doesn’t already exist; Mexicans, on the other hand, might simply use the English word. It’s common to hear godínez (stereotypical office dudes, slightly derogatory, all in good fun) inject a term like “venture capital” or “needs assessment” into a Spanish sentence. Never ceases to make me laugh! [A godínez, which was originally a surname, might also say “ombligo de la semana” (navel/belly button of the week) to describe Wednesday, or Hump Day.]

Speaking of godínez… la quincena

The quincena is sacred here. It’s your twice-monthly payday, hence the prefix quince- (15), that gives you license to spend a ton of money… or perhaps allows you to pay your bills. Lines at banks and ATMs seem to stretch for miles.


Cue N*SYNC’s “Just Got Paid”


A way to turn something down politely and allow the requester to save face. Most US English speakers would say “no, thanks/thank you,” while a speaker of Mexican Spanish might simply say “gracias” (sans “no”) with a sympathetic tone. Very useful when a cute little girl tries to sell you candy or trinkets. Related to pa(ra) la otra, or “maybe next time.”

Güera: my daily reality

A softer term than gringo, it depicts someone who is fair-skinned and light-ish haired (and not necessarily from the US). The diminutive, güerita, is a favorite among catcallers.

On a related note, lots of nicknames and descriptors in Latin American culture are based on physical or racial descriptions that might seem mean or rude to an outsider. Calling someone gordit@ (the equivalent might be “fatty”) happens often, as does the opposite, flaquit@. Morenito (roughly, brownie?), describing someone’s skin color, is not (perceived to be) as racially loaded as you might think.

¿A poco?

No way! Really? Seriously? A fresa (preppy or, occasionally, snobbish/stuck-up person) would probably pronounce this “¿a pooocoooo?” to express incredulity. It’s fun to mix it up from the usual en serio (seriously) or de veras (truthfully).


Just for show. My mother-in-law, who reads and understands English almost flawlessly but is sometimes hesitant to speak it, threw this one at me last week. Clearly borrowed from English, she used it in the context of a friend who has a piano at her house but doesn’t actually know how to play.


Fake/cheap/imitation/not genuine. Usually said with disdain. I LOVE this word. You could use pirata to describe something that’s ripped off or faked, like a logo – anything that’s not the real McCoy.


Used the same way you would in English to describe something fancy or lovely (but not necessarily someone who is kind).

¿Cómo ves? [added 3/25/17]

How about it? What do you think? Used to solicit feedback after you’ve proposed an idea or opinion. Yo pasaré por ti a las 8, ¿cómo ves? (I’ll pick you up at 8, what do you think/sound good?)

*Disclaimer: this list is based on my experience and understanding, plus some input from Spanish speakers. My translations may not be perfect. Yet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: