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My friend, Alexandra of Good Day Regular People, recently wrote about “Colombian-isms” – I loved her hilarious post (check it out!) and she encouraged me to write my own post of “Salvadoran-isms” – So here I am. I have to say though, Salvadoran slang could fill a book thicker than War & Peace. It seems like every other word out of your average Salvadoran’s mouth is unique to El Salvador or the Caliche of Central America. That being said, here are a handful of random highlights to amuse you.

Puchica! – This is perhaps the most Salvadoran word of all. Use this exclamation anywhere you would usually use “Wow, Holy cow, Geez!”

Maje – Means “dude” or “dumb” depending on context. “Qué onda, maje?” = What’s up, dude? … “No seas maje” = “Don’t be dumb.”

Cipote/Cipota – This word means “child.” Like a lot of Salvadoran slang, this word comes from the native Nahuatl. There is even a beloved Salvadoran folk character named Cipitío – a boy who wears a really big sombrero and has backwards feet as well as a big round belly. He is the result of a forbidden love affair between other folk characters and for some reason he eats ashes and bananas.

Está bien yuca – This means “it’s a really difficult situation.”

Chucho/Chucho Aguacatero – dog/mutt/stray dog/street dog … Example: “Chhht! Chucho! Vete!” (“Chhht! Dog! Get out!”)

Cabal/Cabalito – Means “Exactly.” This can be used when you agree with something and you’re saying, “Yes, that’s it exactly!” or when trying on a pair of shoes that fit perfectly.

Paloma – Although this word usually means “dove” in Spanish, this is also commonly used slang for “penis” in El Salvador… I never found out how that happened, but it must be a fascinating story. (And for this reason, you won’t meet many Salvadoran women named Paloma.)

Fíjate -or- Fíjese – This word is kind of like, “Look,” or “Look here”, “Listen,” – I read once on a blog by a Peace Corp. volunteer in El Salvador that nothing good ever follows this word. I found that hilarious and very true. Example: “Fíjate, el dinero que me diste por pagar la renta, tuve que usar por comprar algo para el cumple de mi novia.” (Look, the money you gave me to pay the rent, I had to use to buy a birthday gift for my girlfriend.)

Más vale amistad perdida, que una tripa retorcida. – “Better to have a lost friendship than a twisted gut.” This is said when one really needs to pass gas and they let it rip. Lovely, right?

Hay pericos en la milpa. – “There are parakeets in the corn field.” Use this to alert someone to watch what they say because others might be listening.

Machete estate en tu vaina. – “Machete stay in your sheath.” Meaning it’s better not to get involved or it’s better to mind your business so you don’t come into problems.

Vaya pues – “Okay, then. That’s fine. It’s all good.” My suegra is known for saying this on the phone before hanging up. She rarely says a proper goodbye, just “Vaya pues” – CLICK.

… Vaya pues.


What Salvadoran-isms would you add to the list? If your roots are from elsewhere in Latin America, give me your Mexican-isms, Venezuelan-isms, Cuban-isms, or whatever other “-isms” you have from anywhere in the world.


  1. Tracy, I can’t believe you forgot one of the coolest phrases in Salvadorian Spanish – “Que Chivo!” LOL

  2. This list is great – You should have seen the look on my friend’s face when I started to use Salvadorian slang when speaking with him. He asked me, “Where did you learn that?!” I told him, “I have the internet!”

    • Good one, Jaime! You also mentioned “vos” over on Facebook. Both are excellent examples of “Salvadoran-isms” :)

  3. This is sort of a crossover between Colombianisms & Salvadoranisms, but a Colombian friend had an unfortunate habit of referring to Salvadorans [in a very classist way] as “Vaya pues” – or, to put it phonetically, Bah-Pways.

    Also wondering about the exclamations – more phonetic spelling here, my Spanish is oral rather than written – Kee-ho-lay! or Ee-ho-lay! which Sr. Wonderful uses regularly, but I have no idea what the literal translation is.

  4. No conoces anadie que se llame Paloma? Yo si!
    Y hay apellido Palomo! Y no te olvides de la frase Esta Paloma! Meaning its hard!

  5. Fíjate y fíjese is also used in Cuba, but the way it was used (by my cuentos professor) was similar, but more like stick to this, pay close attention to this, remember this kind of way.

  6. “pico de gallo”

    in Mexico, a delicious sauce… in Chile, something ENTIRELY different, much to the very hearty amusement of my host family and my own embarrassment!

  7. para laprincesayasin

    in el salvador its also used that way….fijate o fijese….it has two meanings…and how you apply it…fijate y fijese does not have a set rule on how to be used

  8. Lol i have said all of this at one point, but I think u missed one of the biggest ones, vos, haha when i went to el salvador a few months ago I bought a shirt thats says “sabes que eres salvadoreño sí hablas así” I don’t have the shirt in front of me but it says something like that and there are so many phrases on it, words that salvadoreans use, its really funny.

  9. My husband and is family are really ‘malcreados’ when it comes to their ‘isms’. My husband’s favorite is ‘coma mierda’ or ‘eat shit’. Another one I hear a lot is ‘chuco/a’. Like ‘Tu cara esta toda chuca’ or ‘Your face is all dirty’.

      • Jueputa, no seas bayunco cerote,– algo fresitas quizas son pero las bichas no puede ser creídOs solo CREíDAS

      • The “v” is not correct. It’s “bichita” … Bicho/Bicha is like guy/gal so “bichita” is like “little gal.” It’s just a friendly informal way to call a female.

  10. Good start, but don’t forget “pisto” or “plata” referring to money; “bicho” referring to kids instead of insects; “trucho” for being smart or wise; “llevate a cucucho/tutucho” for sitting on one’s shoulders.

  11. These take me back, I have a cousin who was born and raised in the states and whenever my aunt called us bichos or bichas he always thought she was calling us bitches in Spanish!

  12. I know I’m late to the party on this post, but… Are these exclusively Salvadoran?? I use/hear most of them all the time! I never knew I was using Salvadoran slang, just thought it was Spanish!

    • Hi Eddie! Where did you learn Spanish? Are most of your friends Salvadoran or Central American? … A lot of Salvadoran slang is used throughout Central America. A couple of these may be used in other countries but not necessarily with the same exact meaning.

  13. quihubo means hi, hello; salu means bye or ciao; huevon or guevon means lazy bum; chevere (same as in Colombia) means nice, beautiful; mono chillon, means cry-baby; bayunco means clown; ese volado, el volado, means that thing the thing; jeton means loose or big mouth; acurrucarse, to crouch, etc. etc.

  14. You know, “maje” actually means “guy” or “individual” according to the formal usage in Spanish language, but we Salvadorans use it as an adjective.

  15. Great work! It’s interesting as my daughters often asked me for some of those words and from time to time I could not proper respond. Thanks for your effort sharing with us some of our background history

  16. What about “casaca?” It means “you’re kidding me”. And “va” for “OK.” And “cual zapatos?” when someone asked you a stupid question.

    • Yes “cual zapato?” is so unique and it my favorite to use it mean “what shoes?” Usually used when someone say something stupid or is trying bullshit ypu reply with “Cual zapato:

  17. Don’t forget “pego ginda” which means to run away. Also “talegon” which means “nice”. Pastelero means to flirt a lot. Chichipate and bolo is refer to a drunk guy. Lio means a problem.” Renco”which means ” limping.” Tetelque means not ripen. Amasar means to hug and kiss. Devanar means to get beaten. Fundillo means the ass or buttom. Utualito means right now. Pijaso o talegaso means to hit with the fist.

  18. I remember my mom yelling at me as a kid for saying “ah chis” I heard her say it all the time, she explained that its like saying “ohh shit” at least that’s what she told me.

  19. here are some other ones, i keep hearing these from brothers😂😂😂😂
    Serio pedo
    Ponele mente
    No pues ni en cuenta
    Ey maje mira a esa morra

    • I was just going to say that! My husband says that all of the time. It took me a minute to figure it out but I got it. It is as if Salvadorans have their own language lol.

  20. When I was young I remember lining up for the bus in El Salvador. I was about 10 years old at the time and it was my first visit back since I left for Australia when I was two and a half. I remember lining up and noticed people shoving to get in so I thought, “Hey, why not?”. As I began to shove, I didn’t realise I had shoved a pregnant lady…suddenly out of the blue a rather plus sized, middle-aged street vendor lady pops out and says, “Bicho estupido! No ves que esta preñada?! Bicho pendejo cabron, cerote, coma mierda hijueputa!” I turned to my brother behind me in awe because I had never heard so much profanity stringed together in one breath to which he replied with a cool grin on his face, “Welcome to El Salvador little bro”. I’ll never forget that day.

    • Jajajaja! What a great story, Maximo. Thank you for sharing it. I can totally imagine it the way you described.

  21. Haha thats are the most common words that we use here, i lived in El Salvador for my entire life and i know almost all the words there are some of that words

    Maje/Mae: this is the informal way to say dude (or something like that) and use more with your mates, friends etc.
    Like this: Ey mae/maje devolveme eso.

    Ijueputa(more common like this)/Hijo de puta/kijueputa/jueputa

    Hehe sinceretly i dont know “bad words” in your country but somenthing like fuck ypu nah some like that and describes the subject

    Like this: Mono jueputa.
    (By the way, the last 2 meanings means “bad words” in El Salvador

    Garrobo: Its an animal that is somenthing like a lizard.

    Like this: El garrobo es una iguana

    Chucho/Tacaño: we use chucho or tacaño to describe a person who is difficult to pay the correctly prize
    Like this: No seas chucho para pagar

    Chucho and chucho aguacatero

    Chucho is the informal way to say dog and chucho aguacatero is the informal way to say a dog that doesnt have raze or somenthing like that you know the skin the common dogs

    1- Like this: Mira que bonito ese chucho
    2- Like this: Uy que feo ese chucho aguacatero

    Now the languaje of FB use in a popular group of America Central or Central America (Xd I dont know how do say that word anyway) that is SDLG that is an acrnomyc nah something like that that means (Seguidores De La Grasa) in english would be like this: (Followers Of The Oily) (I DONT KNOW i dont want haters I traslate the most i can do)

    SDLG is a FB group that upload hilarus photos, conversacion and much but much much hilarus content

    His languaje its complicate to understand because you have to know medium spanish to understand what are they saying

    Papu: Means “brother” but with your friends or mates for example: Hey whats up brother like that

    Like this: Ey papu que tal

    Elfa: Means girl but the informal way in that group

    Like this: Elfa vuelve a la cocina :v

    :v : this is the pac-man we use :v when we are joking or just because yes :v

    Like this: Ste men :v

    Ste men: means “dis dude :v” like that or can be “dat dude” in spanish Ese men :v

    Like this: Ste men se paso de la raya :v

    Jeje its difficult to explain you the words that we use here but i hope that this words help with your voabulary.

    Your Friend: Ste men :v

  22. There are many words missing, I’m obligued to contribute.
    Chulon to be naked.
    Chele a fair skined person.
    Chancho a pig, used to describe a dirty or corrupt person.
    Chichuda a big breasted woman.
    Chiquirin the anus.
    Cho a harsh way to ask for silence.
    Choco a blind person, used in a playfull way to describe some one who wears glasses.
    Chicote a Beattle.
    Chino a person with little body hair.
    Cheta a fowl way of saying spit.
    Charros be ware of someone or something.
    Chambon clumsy.
    Chingaste ground coffe, broken potery or glass.
    Chancaca a nearly black confiture used as a nickname for some one who is fat and dark skined.
    Chibola a marble, common name for soda pop, originated from the marbles used to plug soda pop in olden times.
    Cholero a servant, a downgrading way to address a servile individual.
    Chacalele the heart.
    Chumbulun or chumbulus the noice an object makes wen it hits water.
    Chabacan someone uncouth.
    Chero a friend actually a galicizm from the word cheri meaning beloved.
    Chaneque a spy or someone infiltrated.
    Chenga usually and old tortilla.
    Chafa something of low quality.
    Chafarote a disdainful way to describe a military officer.
    Chance an opotunity, an anglisizm.
    Chumpe a turkey, used to describe someone who is no bright.
    Chaparro moonshine, it is now marketed legally in El Salvador.
    Chota, La the police
    Choto, de for free
    Chotear to wonder around.
    The former letter “Ch” deserves full pages dedicated to it.
    Carmelo, the gentleman who visits your wife while you’re away, its English equivalent being Jody.
    Tacuche a suit.
    Rieles shoes.
    Potros pants.
    Tetunte a big rock, used to describe the head.
    Tenamaste an even bigger rock to describe an even bigger head.
    Cuilio a police man or someone with an erection.
    Cueviar to fondle.
    Calmantes montes chill, relax.
    Pajuil dumb.
    Cambalache an exchange of goods.
    Cachada stollen merchandise for sale a low price.
    Mono a monkey, used to say child.

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