30 Colombian slangs and what they mean
Yes, we have been saying that Colombian Spanish is one of the most neutral and clearest Spanish to learn and to understand.
And it is true!
But, like any other country in the world, Colombians also have their slang and expressions we use when speaking with friends or in informal gatherings.
If you really want to speak like a Colombian you should learn our 30 Basic slang words:
It is a nice common way to greet someone working at a neighborhood store, even if it’s not your neighbor.
Buenas Vecina, cómo está? Me regala* una gaseosa
Good morning “neighbor”, how are you? Can I get a soda, please?
How would Colombia be without a “tintico”?
“Tinto” originates from the Latin word tinctus, which means dyed, stained, or tinted.
“Tinto” in all other Spanish speaking countries refers to red wine (vino tinto) because of the color of the wine,
But in Colombia…
Buenas vecino, me regala* un tintico
Good morning “neighbor”, can I have a black coffee please?
Doesn’t have a specific English translation
Aguardiente (Fire water) Aguardiente is Colombia’s national alcoholic drink.
¿Qué compramos para la fiesta esta noche? ¡Compremos guaro!
What shall we buy for tonight’s party? Let’s get guaro!
Polas is only used in Colombia. it has no official meaning in Spanish but it does hold some history.
“La Pola” was the nickname of Policarpa Salavarrieta Ríos, a heroine who helped Colombia gain independence from Spain.
Back in the days, Bavaria Brewing created a beer in her honor – La Pola. The beer doesn’t exist anymore, but the name stuck.
-Vamos por unas polas?
Shall we grab some beers?
-¡Hace mucho calor hoy! Deberíamos ir por unas polas.
It’s hot today! We should get some beers.
5. Pena. ¡Qué pena!
For most of the Spanish speaking countries, it means “sorrow”, “pity”,
-Es una pena que no hayas venido ayer
It’s a shame you couldn’t come yesterday
-Oh, ¡qué pena!
I feel sorry for you
But in Colombia it has several meanings. It depends on the context.
Sorry, embarrassing, sorrow
-Oye, que pena que ayer no pude ir a la fiesta. Tuve que cuidar a mi hermanito
Hey, I’m so sorry I didn’t go yesterday to the party. I had to look after my little brother
-Me da pena bailar sola
I feel embarrassed dancing by myself
-Esta noche vamos a tomar guaro para ahogar las penas
Tonight we are drinking to drown our sorrows
It’s a word used to express the way someone feels after a break-up or a love disappointment.
Tómate un guaro para pasar la tusa
Drink a guaro for your heartbreak!
If you hear someone saying she or he is “entusado” it means this person is heartbroken
Get familiar with one of the most popular reggaeton songs Tusa (with English subtitles)
A guava tree
The aftereffect of drinking too much aguardiente (guaro).
Tengo un guayabo que me mata.
I have a hangover that’s killing me
It can also be used as a verb: Enguayabado(a)* (To be hungover)
Smart (masculine), ready
In some Spanish speaking countries they would say:
-Ese chico es muy listo
That guy is very smart
-Estás listo para salir?
Are you ready to go?
– ¿Nos vemos por la tarde? – ¡Listo!
Shall we meet this afternoon? Okay! / Sure!
– ¿Vamos a escalar mañana? – ¡Listo!
Shall we go climbing tomorrow? – Sure!
It doesn’t have a special translation. It’s a word used in Colombia and other Latin American countries.
Very good, cool, nice. It is used for referring to places, people or experiences
-¿Te gustó la fiesta? Sí, ¡estuvo super chévere!
Did you like the party? Yes, it was so cool!
-¡Ella es muy chévere!
She is really cool)¡
-¿Has estado en Colombia? Sí, ¡me encantó! Es super chévere.
Have you been to Colombia? Yes, I loved it! It’s so cool.
10. Moscas. ¡Por si las moscas!
Flies (In case of flies)
Just in case
Llevemos la sombrilla por si las moscas
Let’s take the umbrella just in case
Synonym: “por si acaso”
Llevemos la sombrilla por si acaso
Let’s take the umbrella just in case.
It can be also used as a verb: Estar moscas* (To be alert)
To be sharp and alert, to keep one’s eyes open
Careful!, Watch out!, Pay attention!
-Pilas con tu bolso. Mejor ponlo sobre la mesa
Pay attention to your bag. It’s better if you put it on the table
Doesn’t have a specific English translation. “Ñapa” comes from a Quechua (indigenous) word meaning “help” or “increase”.
It’s a little bit of something extra given for free. It’s normally used when you are buying street food, or fruits in the market.
When you order a passion fruit juice in the market, the bit of juice still left in the blender at the end could be given to you as “ñapa”.
The “Ñapa” is also that extra bread roll that a baker tucks into your bag
In Colombia, street food vendors, bakers, people at the fruit markets, and many others are used to give “ñapa”.
But, you can also ask for it:
Vecino, y la ñapa?
“Play” was taken from the English language
Posh. it can refer to an object, a person, or a place
-Ya fuiste al nuevo lugar que abrieron en la Zona G? Es super play
Did you already go to the place they just opened in Zona G? It’s quite posh
-Conoces a Carolina, la chica de mi trabajo? – Sí, la chica que es toda play, no?
Do you know Carolina, the girl from my work? – Yes, the girl that is quite posh, isn’t she?
Long weekend, holiday
-Qué vamos a hacer este puente?
It’s a long weekend, what are we going to do?
-Dale, el lunes vamos al banco. – No, está cerrado, acuérdate que es puente
Ok, we’ll go to the bank on Monday – No, it’s closed. Remember that Monday is Holiday
Lucas is actually a name
In Colombia 20.000 pesos would be 20 lucas, 100.000 pesos would be 100 lucas
Cuánto valen las entradas del concierto? Creo que 200 lucas
How much are the tickets for the concert? 200 lucas, I think
-Chicas, este finde* me quedo en casa. No tengo mucha plata
Girls, I’m staying home this weekend. I don’t have much money
Get familiar with these Vallenato songs. You will probably heard them when you are partying with Colombians:
La Plata (Classic Vallenato)
La Plata (Contemporary vallenato)
If you want to learn more about Colombian music read our post “10 Colombian music genres you need to know about!”
17. Nota (¡Qué nota!)
Note (what a note!)
-Ella es una nota bailando
She’s awesome at dancing
-Vi las fotos de tu último viaje… ¡Qué nota!
I saw the pics from your last trip… Awesome!
Too bad, screwed or to have messed up really bad, and be in a point of no return.
If you order a coffee but the restaurant has run out, you turn to your friends and say
-No, ¡paila! Acá no venden café.
Too bad, they don’t sell coffee here.
-Paila, llegó el novio y no pudimos seguir hablando.
Too bad, Her boyfriend arrived and we couldn’t keep talking.
-No, ese man es muy paila. Le dijo mentiras sobre su familia.
No, that guy is “muy paila”. He lied about his family.
In Spain, it’s a way to call someone pretty or cute.
Read also our post “Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain”
But in Colombia…
Diminutive: Monita, Monito
The word is mostly used to describe a light-skinned, fair-haired person. Typically a blonde – whether pretty or not—can always be considered a mono (male) or mona (female).
-¡Esa vieja está super linda! – ¿Cuál? – La monita que está allá
That girl is so cute! – Which one? – The blondie over there
20. Pelota, Bola
Idiot. Although it’s a feminine word, pelota is used for both male and female.
-¡Qué pelota eres! / ¡Qué bola eres!
What an idiot you are!
-Que bola, dejé las llaves dentro de la casa
What an idiot I am, I left the keys inside the house
Tiresome (from “tired” cansado)
Annoying, someone is a pain
Cansón derives from the word cansado/cansada, but Colombians use the adjective to refer to someone who tires them.
-Esa niña es tan cansona
That girl is a pain
-¡Ese perro está muy cansón!
That dog is so annoying!
It generally means “well-behaved”, but It also has other meaning depending on the context.
The parents would say to the kids:
-Vamos a visitar a la abuela hoy, se portan juiciosos por favor
We’re visiting grandma today, please behave
-Uy, ¿y ese juicio? (said disbelievingly) – No, hoy me dio por limpiar la casa
Well, check you out! Mr. Responsible! – Nah, I just felt like cleaning the house today
-Hola, Cómo vas? Qué hiciste el finde? – No, nada especial, juicioso en casa
Hey,How’s it going? What did you do this weekend? – No, nothing special. I just stayed home
A lighter way to say “oh, s*!”. Just because the word begins with “mier”.
-¡Miércoles! Olvidé las llaves del carro dentro.
Oh, s*! I forgot the keys inside the car.
Girl, woman. You can use it to refer to women between the ages of about 15 and 50.
Forget the word “mujer” to refer to women. In Colombia, we say “vieja”
-La vieja que estaba en el restaurante ayer me dijo que hoy hay un concierto.
That woman that was yesterday in the restaurant told me there is a concert today
-Esa vieja no tiene ni idea de lo que dice
She doesn’t have a clue what she is saying
“Man” was taken from the English language
Man, guy, dude
Forget the the word “hombre” to refer to men. In Colombia we say “man”
-¡Ese man está buenísimo!
That guy is super hot!
-Bueno, y ayer ¿qué te dijo ese man?
So, what did that guy tell you yesterday?
26. ¡De una!
An enthusiastic way to say “yes, absolutely!” or “yes, let’s do it!”.
¿Quieres ir a correr el sábado por la mañana? – Sí, ¡de una!
Do you want to go running next Saturday morning? -. Absolutely!
Cultural Tip: Colombians also say “De one”, mixing Spanish and English literal translation
Let’s do it, sure, OK, yes
-¿Te parece si vamos a la playa mañana? – Sí, ¡dale!
Shall we go to the beach tomorrow? – Yes, sure!
-Mañana te llamo entonces – ¡Dale!
I’ll call you tomorrow – Ok!
Hard, difficult, challenging
-El examen estuvo tenaz
The quiz was so hard
-La carrera estuvo tenaz
The race was challenging
“Churro” is a fried-dough pastry.
¡Ese man está muy churro!
That guy is so handsome!
¡La vieja es una churra!
She is so pretty!
Chill out, relax, don’t worry
-Nena, lo siento, mañana no puedo acompañarte al médico – No pasa nada, ¡fresca!
Babe, sorry, I can’t come with you to the doctor – No, not a problem, don’t worry!
* These words deserve another blog post. Keep reading our blog and learn how to speak like a truly Colombian
Did you enjoy learning these typical Colombian words?
Don’t forget to follow our social media and to keep reading our Blog. We will be sharing more Colombian Slangs and expressions in the coming posts.