Vocabulary

For those who aren’t bilingual English/Spanish and are wondering what something means, I will try to keep an alphabetical glossary here for some of the words or phrases I commonly use. Be aware that some of these words are slang and some are offensive. Some of these words are Mexicanisms (I’m particularly fond of Mexican Spanish), some are used primarily by Chicanos, some of it is border slang, some is Salvadoran Caliche … My Spanish is a sort of fusion of whatever strikes my fancy.

Alguien – Somebody/Someone
Ama de casa – homemaker
Amigos/Amigas – Friends/Female friends
Andalé! - Let’s go! Come on!
Ay – Oh
Besando – Kissing
Bicho/Bicha – young person (Salvadoran slang … Careful. It has other meanings in other countries.)
Bien – means “good/well” but when used in front of an adjective, it can mean “very”. Your Spanish 101 teacher would not approve of its usage this way because it’s not proper grammar, but this is how many native Spanish speakers use it. Your teacher will tell you to say something is “Muy caliente” to say it’s “Very hot”, but many native Spanish speakers might tell you something is “Bien caliente” which sounds like “Good hot” but actually means “Very hot”.
Blogueras – Bloggers
Blusa – Blouse
Botas Picudas – Pointy-toed boots
Bueno – Good/Well
Caballero – Gentleman
Cabezón – Big head
Cabrón(es) – Asshole(s)/F*cker(s)
Calientito/Calientita – A little hot (could refer to temperature or also used to say someone is attractive.)
Callense – Shut up/Be quiet
¡Carajo! – Damn/Hell/F*ck (depending on how used)
Casa – House
Casita(s) – Little house(s)
Celos – Jealousy
Celoso/a – Jealous
Cerveza – Beer
Chale – Hell no/No way
Chancla – Flip flop, Sandal, house slipper (plural, “chanclas”)
Chévere – Awesome
Chica(s) – Girl(s)
¡Chin! – Bummer
Chino/a – Chinese
Chismosos – Gossips
Chulo/Chula – Pretty/Beautiful/Nice looking
Cipote(s) – Kid(s)/Child(ren), (this word is used in El Salvador)
Claro que sí – yes, of course
Comal – a type of griddle used in Latin America for cooking tortillas, etc.
Como dije – Like I said
¿Cómo se dice? – How do you say?
Complicado – Complicated
Comprame Este – Buy me this
Confundida – Confused
Corazón – Heart
Curiosos – Curious
¡Corre! – Run!
Cucarachas – Cockroaches
Culo – Ass
De verdad – For real/It’s true/Seriously
Defectos – Flaws, Defects
El amor de mi vida – The love of my life
El niño grande – The big kid
El chiquito – The little one
El macho (or) Mi macho – “The man” or “My man”, playful term of endearment for male partner/husband
Encantada – Enchanted
Enfermito/Enfermita – A little sick
Espero que no – I hope not
Está jodido – This has various meanings, but for the most part it usually means “It’s screwed up” or “It’s fucked” – (Not to be used in polite company.)
Estoy – I am
Estoy bien tranquila – I’m very calm/relaxed/tranquil
Familia – Family
Foto(s) – Photo(s)
Fútbol – Soccer
Gordito/a – Little chubby boy/girl
Gracias a Dios – Thank God
Gringa/Gabacha – White girl/American
Guanaco/a – slang for Salvadoran/person from El Salvador
Guapo/a – Handsome
Güera – light skinned female
Güey – Mexican slang term with multiple meanings depending on context. Most commonly used the way English speakers use, “Dude”.
Grillo(s) – Cricket(s)
Hermano – Brother
¡Híjole! – Geez!
Imaginate – Imagine that
Ladrón/a – Thief/Robber
La migra – The Border Patrol/ICE agents/Immigration
La verdad – The truth
La Virgencita – The little virgin, (an affectionate nickname for the Virgin Mary)
Loca/Loco – Crazy
Locura – Craziness
Machos protectivos – Protective men/husbands
Malas Noticias – Bad news
Malcriados – Spoiled/rude/not brought up well
Mamá – Mama
Mariachito – Little Mariachi
Más o menos – More or less
Metiche – A nosy person
Mi/Mis – My
Mierda – Shit
Mira – Look
Mojito(s) – A lime/mint flavored drink.
Mueve la cadera – Move your hips
Mujer(es) – Woman/Women
Muy – Very
Nadie – Nobody/Anybody/No one
Nalgas – butt cheeks
Nene – Baby, Darling
Niños – Kids
No y no – No and no
No importa – It’s not important/It doesn’t matter
No manches – literal meaning is “Don’t stain” but is used to mean something like, “Are you serious?”, “Whatever” or “Don’t kid around with me”
No puedo ver – I can’t see
No se porque – I don’t know why
N’ombre – slang for “No hombre”, (No man), which is used in El Salvador to mean “No way”
Noticias – News
No tiene ni pies ni cabeza – The equivalent of the proverb, “I can’t make heads or tails of it.”
Novios – Boyfriend and girlfriend
Ojo – Eye
Órale – Hell yeah, right on, okay then, Woo-hoo (This word has a lot of uses)
Pajaro/Pajarito – Bird/Little bird
Pan Comido – literally means “Bread eaten”, but is the same as saying something is a “piece of cake” (easy to do), in English.
Padre – Father (used to refer to a paternal father, and also to a priest.)
Padrisimo – awesome/really cool
Padrinos – Godparents
Pasión – Passion
Pendejadas – Nonsense, stupid things
Pero – But
Perro/Perra – Dog, Female Dog (bitch)
Picante – Spicy
Piñata – A candy filled papier-mâché figure that kids hit with a stick while blind folded. The object of the game is to break it so the candy spills out.
Pinche(s) – Damned/Fucking
Piropos – Compliments/Lines/Flirtatious comments/Catcalls
Pisto – Money/Cash (used in Central America)
Pobre – Poor
Porque – Because
Por supuesto – Of course
Por Dios! – For God’s sake!
Precioso(s) – Precious/Cute
Puchica – This word is Salvadoran slang. It is a sanitized version of the word “puta” (whore), and is used as an exclamation, even by little children. Sort of like saying “Shoot!” or “Crap!”
Pues – Well/Then (As in, “Well, let me see…” or “Show it to me, then”)
Puro – Pure
Qué pecado! – What sin! … The word “Qué” can be used in front of so many other words for some really fun exclamations.
¡Qué horror! – What horror!
¡Qué adorable! – How adorable!
¿Quién sabe? – Who knows
Quitase de allí – Get out of there
Ratóncito Pérez – The Latin American version of the Tooth Fairy, but he’s a mouse.
Reina(s) Queen(s)
Salvatrucho/a – slang for Salvadoran/person from El Salvador
– Yes
Sin – Without
Señor/Señora (or) Sr./Sra. – Mr./Mrs.
sólo Dios sabe – only God knows
Sombrero – hat
sopa de pollo – chicken soup
Suegra – Mother-in-law
Tacones – High heels
Tambien – Also
Tata – Daddy
Techo – Roof
Telenovelas – Spanish language soap operas
Tia/Tio – Aunt/Uncle
Todo confundidos – Totally/all confused
Todo/Todos/Toda/Todas – Everything/All/Everybody
Tonta/o – Foolish
Traje bien fino – A very fine suit
Tranquila/o – Calm/Tranquil
Tú sabes lo que estoy diciendo – You know what I’m saying
Un poquito – A little bit
Venganza – Revenge
Vergüenza – Shame
Vayase – Go away
¿Verdad? – Right/Correct
Viejo/Vieja – Old
Y – and
Ya – Already/Enough

*Links*

Quick guide to Spanish Pronunciation

My favorite free sites for learning languages:

My favorite online translator Google Translate

MangoLanguages.com

LiveMocha.com

SpanishDict.com (also has an awesome dictionary)

Survival Spanish for El Salvador

MexicoGuru.com – Mexican slang

  1. Much of this has a similar root to French that I already know… maybe someday I’ll be multi-lingual lol… for now it’s just English with a little French.

    • @ Mandy – I think French can sound quite pretty but I don’t think I can ever hope to get the pronunciation correct. It is very ugly in my mouth.

  2. This is AWESOME, very Latina-ish ( :

  3. Love this! I majored in Latin American Studies in college (a loooong time ago), traveled to several Spanish speaking countries (my favorite was Mexico, which was the country I “specialized” in.) Anyway, now I don’t get to speak much Spanish except to my housekeeping assistant, who doesn’t speak much English. She uses a lot of slang, so your entry helps me. I knew most of what’s in it, but I have learned some things. THANKS!

    Also, my housekeeping assistant uses “chingar” quite a bit. Is this a totally horrible word? Sorry to ask, but it’s embarrassing to ask in person. GRACIAS.

    • @ RitaElizabeth – No problem about your question. Thanks for your comment.

      As for the word “chingar” and its many forms, it’s not an easy answer. Basically, it is categorized as a “bad” (profane/curse) word, and isn’t one I’d use in front of a priest, grandmother, children, or in generally polite company – but the word’s offensiveness really depends on the listener and how they feel about it. For some people, this is a very casual word to throw around, and for others it most definitely is not.

      As I said, “chingar” has many forms. If one says, “Vete y chinga a tu madre” (Go and fuck your mother), this is perhaps the ultimate insult, (though I suspect it’s mostly because we have involved the mother and not so much for the “chinga” part!) … “Chingar” can also be used for sexual relations, though it definitely does not have the gentle connotation of alternatives such as “hacer el amor” (make love)… “No me chingues” means “Don’t fuck around with me” but could be used the same way an English speaker might say, “Get out of here! You’re not serious!” when they feel incredulous/annoyed…A “chingadera” is a “fucking thing” – used in annoyance with an object…Yet, “¡Qué chingón!” is an expression that means something is super cool.

      So, as you see, this word has a lot of uses and the harshness of its meaning can be open to interpretation. For that reason, I recommend non-native speakers to be extra careful when using it.

      ¡Buena suerte! Good luck.

  4. Dear Tracy, hi!
    ¿Cómo estás? Hace tiempo que no visitaba Latinaish y estoy feliz de ver cómo ha crecido! En especial la parte de “hire me”, I knew you were a great writer, I told you! Justamente vine hoy porque quería hacerte una pregunta y recordando tu ofrecimiento de Ask Sra. López me animé a hacerte esta consulta. Estoy escribiendo bastante en mi blog en inglés y tengo un artículo que creo que está muy bonito pero tengo una duda con el título. Yo quisiera que diga “Solía ser una madre perfecta hasta que tuve mi primer hijo” o en su defecto, “supe ser una madre perfecta hasta que tuve mi primer hijo”. Yo escribí “I used to be a perfect mom until I had my first child” pero ahora dudo si estará bien expresado en inglés. Sería mucha molestia hacerme una sugerencia? Muchas gracias por el post de los vaqueros sin camisa y la telenovela, valía la pena verlo, me encanta tu sentido del humor!
    Cariños!
    Fernanda

    • Fernanda! Cómo has estado?! Gracias por tus palabras amables.

      Creo que el título que pusiste es perfecto. Está expresado bien así en inglés.

      No me molesta nada ayudarte. Any time, amiga! :)

  5. I prefer Mexican Spanish as well so sometimes my husband makes fun of how I speak it, but the other day I started to say “Hijo de la gran….” y ya sabes que…and I caught myself and my husband was SOOO proud of me because ‘al fin salio la Salvadorena

    • LOL – Yes, my husband likes when I use Caliche instead of a Mexicanism – but over all he has encouraged me to keep my “clean” Spanish — “Clean” not meaning free of curse words – but with an indistinguishable accent and with universally understood words… I understand that’s better for professional reasons and maybe my Spanish is really weird at this point since I mix and match my slang and pronunciation, but speaking text book Spanish would be way too boring for me ;)

  6. Helpful page. Can you help me translate the following “chingue a su madre el amor mientras la pasión por lo que hago me dure.” It seems like it would be offensive given the first part but knowing this person, I don’t think it was meant to be.

    • I feel like it isn’t punctuated correctly and I don’t have context, but I think a rough translation for this would be: “Fuck/(to hell with) love, as long as the passion lasts” or “Fuck/(to hell with) love, as long as the passion for what I do lasts.”

      Does that make sense in context?

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