Using Spanish Slang
Spanish, like any language, has its formal words and the words that people use every day on the street. In fact it’s common for a Spanish person to ask if you learned your Spanish in school or ‘de la calle,’ meaning from the street.
Depending on the region you go to in Spain, you’ll here different languages, accents and variations on words but that said, there is a universal Castellano, which everybody speaks. The slang words listed here are taken from Castellano.
In Spain parties are big and the tradition amongst young people is to have a ‘botellón’ (pronounced bo-tay-yon) on a weekend night. Botellón is a slang word for bottle but the term means a gathering of people with lots of bottles of alcohol. A few years ago, there was talk by the Spanish government of banning botellónes because of the trouble they caused, but they still persist today.
Spanish people have lots of words for greeting each other. The most common is ‘buenas’ which is an abbreviation of buenas dias. In Andalucia rather than saying hello when you see someone you know, you say, ‘adíos’ or ‘hasta luego,’ which makes sense because you’re not stopping to say hello, you’re just waving at them and moving on.
If you want to refer to a young guy or young girl in some way, you can call them
a ‘chaval’ or ‘chavala.’ Used throughout Spain but more common in the south is also
the ‘muchacha,’ which is a slang word for a person you don’t know.
If the person is a rich, upper class snob, you’d refer to them as ‘pijo’ (pronounced pee-
ho). A friend is referred to ‘tio’ (pronounced tee-o) if it’s a guy and ‘tia’ (pronounced tee-
a) if it’s a girl.
A foreigner in Spain is usually referred to as a ‘guiri’ (pronounced gear-ee) although this
word is generally only applied to foreigners who speak English.
There are lots of ways to say that something is cool. One of the more common words
is ‘chulo’ (pronounced choo-low). Depending on the context this word can also mean
cute, as in good looking or arrogant. Beware, context is everything here. When a Spanish
person says ‘¡Que chulo!’ it can mean anyone of the three.
‘De puta madre’ is another day-to-day way to say something is cool or really good
quality or even a person that you really like. Be careful not to confuse the ‘de’ with ‘tu.’
If say ‘tu puta madre,’ this is one of the strongest curse words in Spanish and if you say
this to a Spaniard, be ready for a fight.
For gadgets that are cool or maybe a new hairstyle, you use the word ‘mono.’ For
example, if you like your friend’s new cell phone you could say, ‘¡me gusta tu móvil, es
muy mono!’ Or you can use the word ‘guay’ (pronounced gu-why), which is the same
For a person that you think has a really good heart, you say ‘beuna persona,’ which
simply means ‘good people.’