Department of Spanish & Portuguese 
Spanish Language Curriculum

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Slang Terms From Spain

Speaking to natives is not always easy, even if you know the language! Just like any language, Spanish has its own slang. To help you understand everyday Spanish tertulias, I have compiled a list of words and phrases my friends and I learned while in Spain. Most of these words are used only in Spain, but some are widely used in other countries as well. ¡Diviértete!


Apuntarse -- To accompany others or do the same as others do. (Ex: ¿Vas al cine? ¡Me apunto!)

Boli (m) -- Pen.  This word is used more frequently than pluma. It is short for bolígrafo.

Caer gordo -- To oppose something or someone. (Ex: Me cae gordo ese político.)

Colado/colao -- A person who goes places he/she is not invited entering without paying. Verb form: colarse.  Estar colado por alguien can also mean to be very much in love.  A person who gets into a place without paying may also be called a gorrón or gorrona.

Cotillear -- To gossip or be curious about other people's business. Also used to describe such actions as eavesdropping on others' conversations, reading other people's mail, etc. In Spain, this is never a positive action or attribute, but in some circles is perfectly acceptable behavior. In actuality, gossip is common in most madrileño conversation. Noun form: cotilla

Dar la lata -- To bug, annoy, bother. (literal translation: to give the can).

De cajón -- Evident, totally certain, obvious. (Ex: Es de cajón que Diana recibirá una "A" en su examen: estudia cada día.)

Duro (m) -- One duro is equal to 5 pesetas and 5 duros is equal to 25 pesetas.

Echarme una siesta -- Be careful not to use "tomar" una siesta as it is better to use the verb echar in its reflexive form, meaning to lie down.

Gazpacho (m)  -- A mess, predicament or jam, (literal translation: a type of Spanish tomato soup).

Gente maja (f) -- When you want to say that someone is really pleasant, nice and/or generous, you can refer to them as gente maja. In other words, you are saying, "They are good people."

Granadino -- Someone or something that comes from Granada. This can be used as an adjective or noun.

Hincha (m) -- Fan of a specific soccer team. Una hinchada is a group of soccer fans.

Leche manchada (f) -- This is only used in southern Spain and is very popular. If you would like to order something similar to a café au lait (laite) in southern Spain, you ask for leche manchada. So, this is milk that has just a little bit of coffee. In this sense, you will be getting more milk than coffee.

Madrileño -- Someone or something that comes from Madrid. This can be used as an adjective or noun.

Mala pata (f) -- Bad luck. (Ex: Fue mala pata que perdiera 1.000 pesetas en la calle.)

La marcha (f) -- Nightlife. However, it also means so much more than this since it also refers to the energy that Spaniards have when night time rolls around. It refers to dancing, eating, drinking and socializing. Spanish cities come to life after dark and la marcha refers to the entire scene... people crowding streets at all hours, dance clubs with long lines to get in, corner bars where friends meet one another, eating churros con chocolate in the morning before crawling into bed, etc.  Anonymous to movida.

Matar -- To annoy or bug, (literal translation: to kill)

Movida (f) -- A party.

Móvil (m) -- Cell phone. You will get strange looks if you call it "un celular" so be sure to use móvil. Practically everyone in Spain has one so make sure you know what it is called!

Ni fu ni fa -- An expression that communicates indifference. (Ex: ¿Qué te parece esta falda?----Ni fu ni fa.)

¡Ojo! -- Look out! Watch out! (Ex: ¡Ojo! Caminar sóla por la noche es peligroso.)

¡Olé! -- Yippee! Alright!

Pasta (f) -- Means money. (Ex: ¿Tienes pasta?)

Pelas (f) -- Another word for pesetas or money. (Ex: ¿Cuántas pelas tienes?)

Pijo (m/f) -- An insult given to yuppies from Spain with no fixed age implied. Most often a pijo or pija is within his or her late teens to early thirties. He or she has expensive and most often poor taste and "Daddy" pays for everything. Similar words: Seorito

¡Qué guay! -- Cool, neat

¿Qué tal? -- How's it going? (Ex: ¿Qué tal? --Bien. ¿y tú?)

Sevillano -- Someone or something that comes from Seville. This can be used as an adjective or noun.

Tapa (f) -- Tapas are small rations of meat, potatoes, fish and vegetables that are eaten at bars typically while having a cocktail. Tapas are sometimes served free while others cost a small fee. Many Spaniards eat tapas in the evening rather than sitting down to eat a full dinner. As compared to the way we refer to appetizers in the US, tapas do not come before a meal, but either accompany the act of drinking or are often eaten instead of a meal.

Tapear, or  ir de tapas -- To eat tapas; to go from bar to bar eating these small appetizers.

Tapeo (m) -- The noun form of this activity. Refers to the entire event of going to bars and eating tapas.

Tertulia (f) -- Occurs when people meet together to chit--chat about everyday happenings whether it be the weather, politics, trends or even what María Josefina did last night. The Spaniards love having tertulias especially at outdoor cafés.

Tía (f) -- A girl, "chick," (literal translation: aunt).

Tía buena (f) -- A beautiful woman, "knockout," (literal translation: good aunt).

Tío (m) -- A guy, "dude," (literal translation: uncle).

Vale -- This is used in the same way as we use "OK" or any of its equivalents: sure, I understand, I agree, etc. (Ex: Denota que se está de acuerdo con que otro dice o hace). When the Spanish say it, it kind of sounds like "ballet."

¡Venga, hombre! -- It is usually said at the end of a sentence to mean the following: "Yeah right," "Really, I don't believe you at all," "You have to be kidding," or "Stop it." You can also use: ¡Qué va! ¡Qué bobada! ¡Qué disparate! or ¡Qué tontería!

Viejo verde (m) -- An older man who preys on young women. In English, we say "dirty old man."


[Adapted from CEA's website at ]


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Last Updated: December 31, 2009
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