There are 20 countries where Spanish is the official language. So, imagine how diverse the language gets!
Every country has its own accent and its own dialect. One of the most beautiful dialects is Colombian Spanish. People usually say they like the language because of the accent. They also say it’s clear and easy to understand.
Within the country, there are also different accents and dialects. When we talk about Colombian Spanish we refer to the dialect spoken in Bogota. If you want to learn more about Colombian different accents read our previous post, Colombian Spanish accents: what you need to know.
Getting to know the local slang and expressions might not be easy, but it’s vital since they are used in everyday life.
In today’s article, we will explain the meaning of 20 verbs we use in Colombian Spanish. Make sure you also read of the post “30 Colombian slangs and what they mean”, it will help you to understand better how Colombians speak.
1. Regalar (me regala)
Literal meaning: “to gift” or “to give as a gift”,
Slang meaning: To give
Colombian way: Buenas Vecina, ¿me regala una cerveza?
Good morning “neighbor”, could you give me a beer, please?
This is one of the most used verbs in Colombia.
Many people, even native Spanish speakers from other countries, get confused when hearing:
“me regala un café” or “me regalas una cerveza”.
In standard Spanish “regalar” means “to give something as a gift”.
In other Spanish speaking countries for ordering a coffee people would say:
“Me da un café, por favor”
But in Colombia, we would say:
“Me regala un café, por favor”
It’s just a polite way to ask for something, whether it’s food, drinks or even when asking someone for a moment to talk:
“Me regalas un minuto? Tengo que decirte algo”
Do you have a minute, I need to tell you something
The verb “regalar” is used as synonymous of the verb “dar” (to give) only in Colombia.
Don’t be surprised if you hear stories of Colombian people that ordered a coffee or beer in countries like Spain or Argentina and the waiter/waitress answer:
“No, lo siento. Acá no regalamos nada” (No, sorry. Here we don’t give things for free”
Literal meaning: None
Slang meaning: To cuddle
Colombian way: “Está lloviendo hoy, arrunchémonos a ver una peli”
It’s raining today, let’s stay in bed, cuddle and watch a movie
Arruncharse is basically lie in bed and cuddle, watch a movie, sleep or whatever but it’s meant to be a very easy and lazy plan to do.
3. Dar una vuelta
Literal meaning: To give a turn
Slang meaning: To go for a walk/ride, to walk around, to hang out
Colombian way: “¿Qué haces? Estoy aburrida en casa. ¿Vamos a dar una vuelta?
What are you doing? I’m bored at home. Shall we go for a walk?
4. Hacer una vuelta
Literal meaning: To do a loop, to do a turn
Slang meaning: To do a favor for somebody, to run errands, or to do any sort of obligation of your own.
Colombian way: “¿Nos vemos esta tarde? Dale, pero primero tengo que hacer unas vueltas. Veámonos al final de la tarde.
Shall we meet this afternoon? Sure, but first I have some things to do. Let’s meet late afternoon.
5. Hacer una vaca
Literal meaning: To make a cow
Slang meaning: To chip in
Colombian way: “Hagamos una vaca para comprar pizza”
Let’s chip in to buy a pizza.
Slang meaning: To party
Colombian way: “Este viernes es el cumple de Antonia. Vamos a rumbear!”
This Friday is Antonia’s birthday. Let’s party!
Watch out, if you hear the verb in its reflexive form, it doesn’t mean “to party” but “to kiss somebody”
“Nos rumbeamos anoche”
We kissed last night
Literal meaning: To chop
Slang meaning: To snack
Colombian way: “Tengo un poco de hambre. Pedimos algo para picar?”
I’m kind of hungry. Shall we order something for snacking?
8. Dar Papaya (No dar papaya)
Literal meaning: To give papaya (Don’t give papaya)
Slang meaning: It’s a common expression in Colombia. It’s difficult to translate but when people use it they mean:
Don’t expose yourself to danger and don’t make it easy for thieves. Don’t lower your guard, have common sense. Don’t put yourself in a position where you become vulnerable to be taken advantage of.
Colombian way: “No dejes tu teléfono sobre la mesa. No des papaya”
Don’t leave your phone on the table. “No des papaya” (somebody could steal it)
9. Camellar (camello)
Literal meaning: To camel. It’s a verb made from the animal word “camel”
Slang meaning: To work. A job or a task that requires a lot of effort.
Colombian way: “Quieres ir a escalar este finde? – No, no puedo. Tengo que camellar todo el finde”
Do you want to go climbing this weekend? – No, I can’t. I’m working all weekend.
10. Prestar (Me prestas)
Literal meaning: To lend something
Slang meaning: It’s also used when asking someone to lend you something. However, it’s also a polite way of asking to use the toilet.
Colombian way: “¿Me prestas el baño, por favor?
Could I use your bathroom, please?
11. Poner los cachos
Literal meaning: To put on horns
Slang meaning: To cheat on the partner
Colombian way: “Juan le puso los cachos a Diana. Ella está súper triste por eso”
Juan cheated on Diana. She’s really down about it.
12. Estar Prendido/Prendida
Literal meaning: To be lit
Slang meaning: To be buzzed
Colombian way: “¡Me tomé dos tragos y ya estoy prendido!”
I’ve drunken two cocktails already. I’m buzzed!
Literal meaning: To fall
Slang meaning: To hit on someone
Colombian way: “Mira, ese es el man que me está cayendo”
Look, that is the guy who is hitting on me
This verb has other meaning depending on the context
Slang meaning 2: to drop by at someone’s
Colombian way: “Llámame mañana y te caigo después del trabajo.”
Call me tomorrow and I’ll drop by after work.
14. Mamar Gallo
Literal meaning: Suck a rooster
Slang meaning: To make fun of someone, to tease, to pull someone’s leg
Colombian way: “¡Deje de mamarme gallo!
Stop pulling my leg!
¡No te enojes, sólo te estaba mamando gallo!
Don’t get mad, I was just teasing you!
Literal meaning: To square up
Slang meaning: To arrange a meeting, to organize, schedule a date, to plan, to coordinate.
Colombian way: “Cuadremos algo para mañana.”
Let’s plan something for tomorrow
Literal meaning: To smear
Slang meaning: To mess up, to ruin, to screw up
I messed it up!
17. Parar bolas
Literal meaning: To stand balls
Slang meaning: To pay attention, to listen
Listen to me!
“Pero, ¿me estás parando bolas?”
But, are you paying attention to me?
18. Meter la pata
Literal meaning: Put the foot in
Slang meaning: To screw up something
Colombian way: “Le dije a Juana que su hermana tenía un regalo para ella. Pero ¡Juana no sabía! ¡Metí la pata!”
I told Juana her sister had a present for her. But Juana didn’t know! I screw it up!
19. Estar enguayabado
Guayabo is the noun, hangover, while “estar enguayabado” is the verb
Literal meaning: To be stuck in a guava tree
Slang meaning: To be hungover
Colombian way: “Ayer salimos con mis compañeros del trabajo. Estoy super enguayabado”
Yesterday we went out with my colleagues. I’m hungover
20 Dejar plantado / plantada
Literal meaning: To leave something/someone planted
Slang meaning: To leave someone waiting, don’t show up for a date
Colombian way: “Quedamos de salir ayer con Julio, pero me de plantada!”
I was planning to meet Julio yesterday, but he never showed up!
So there you have it, 20 Colombian slang phrases to use on your daily dialogue. Which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below if you think we’ve missed any!