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Chicano Caló - English Dictionary
(words and expressions)

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The following is a list of Chicano slang words and expressions, known as CalГі, also spelled "Calo" and "Kalo" by modern Chicano youth. It does not list words and expressions of the language of the Spanish Roma people, which is also called Caló, except where these have been incorporated into Chicano Caló. Nor does it list Mexican slang words and expressions unless they have originated in Pachuco Caló or have been incorporated into it with altered meaning. A few words can be traced to the Nahuatl language of the Mexicas (Aztecs).

These expressions vary by neighborhood. For example, the expression: 'chafa' (low quality) can be heard as 'chafaldrana', 'chafoso', or 'chafarrafa'.

The use of some "classic" pachuco slang words from the 1930s and 40s has survived while others have not.

A [ top ]

a ponemos chancla  (from chancla, Nahuatl for sandal) "Let's dance". The grammar is deliberately incorrect.

águila  (lit. "eagle") "Be alert"

aliviane  a form of help "Aliviáname - help me"

aguas  "to be alert, be careful". ¡Agua! ("Water!) is the cry of sellers of dodgy items when police are spotted.

Araisas  Arizona

A.T.M.  a toda madre (great, fantastic, out of sight); expression antedates the abbreviation for "automated teller machine"

B [ top ]

baro  coin, money.

bironga  beer, booze

borracho  A drunk or someone on a bender.

bolillo  derogatory term for "white boy" or "white guy," similar to "cracker" in American slang. Derived from the white dinner roll of the same name.

bola  A dollar. "Prestame un bola." "Lend me a dollar."

bomba  (also "bomb") a lowrider car or truck from the 1930s - mid-1950s

bote  (literally: "can") jail or prison; also, a lid of marijuana.

borlo  dance, party. "Vamos al borlo." "Let's go to the dance/party."

bronca  trouble or a problem with someone else

Burque  a contraction of the old spelling of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally spelled "Alburquerque"

C [ top ]

cabulear  to "bullshit"; to "chew the fat with"

Caile  Come Here,Go To

Cali  (also "Kali") California

Califas  California. In standard Spanish, it means "caliphs".

calcos  shoes

Calecia a fond name referring to the border city [[Calexico, California in the US, The highest percent of Mexican residents of a city in the US

Caló  a language used by Chicanos or Mexican-Americans, derived from the name of the Spanish Gypsy (gitano) dialect, Caló

canicas  (lit. marbles) love; balls, genitals(male); also "andar a canicas"(walking around naked).

cantón  home; house; apartment

carnal  brother; close friend; homeboy, from primo carnal, "first-grade cousin".

careja  all at once, burdon, blows

Carucha Car,Your Ride

cagua  beer

catos  fistfight, fisticuffs

chafa  low quality

chale  a form of disagreement

chavala (from Gypsy/Gitano Calo) little girl; also used as an insult for a man that lacks courage.

chavalo (from Gypsy/Gitano Calo) little boy

chela beer

chorra penis

clecha school

con safos (frequently abbreviated as "c/s") "Nobody can mess with this" (possibly from Arabic-derived Spanish zafo = unobstructed, clear, safe, intact)

cuete gun

D [ top ]

dalass  Dallas, Texas

dale gas  step on it, go for it

de aquellas  (lit. "from those over there") "the best"

descuéntate  beat it, get lost

descuéntatelo  hit him

descontar  to hit, irregular conjugation (descuento, descuentas, descuenta, descuentan, descontamos)

Dispensa excuse me

drapes  orig. 1930s Harlem African American for stylish clothing; syn. for "zoot suit" (see below)

E [ top ]

East Los  East Los Angeles, California

echa la cookie  fast, as in running fast

El Pasiente  El Paso

El Chuco  El Paso

El Valluco  Rio Grand Valley, Tejas

El Footdale  see machin

empanzonar impregnate

ene  short for Norteno

ena  short for Nortena

enjaular  to lock up. Standard Spanish.

entacucharse  to dress up, more specifically, to wear a tuxedo or suit

escamado  scared. Standard Spanish.

escuelín  school

esquina  help, give a hand

esquinar  help out.

ésa  chola

ése  (lit. "that one", "that guy") cholo; dude; guy; man

esponjes  lie as in no esponges ese

esponjes  angry, as in no te esponges == "don't get angry"

F [ top ]

fajates  blew it

feria  (lit. "fair", as in "county fair") but directly references the homonym "fare") money

filero  knife. Spanish filo means "edge".

firme  cool (as in "hip"); good. In standard Spanish, "firm".

frajo  cigarette

fresa  prep

fusca  gun

G [ top ]

gabacho/a  (also "gavacho") very insulting term for a white person. In Spain, "Frenchman".

gacho  mean or in bad taste

grifa  marijuana (whence the US slang word "reefer"; derived from "grifo")

grifo  (lit. "faucet") marijuana addict; someone who is always "prendido", or "lit"

güacha  (also "wacha") "Look"; "Watch"

güaino  Wino

güero  (also "huero" or "weddo") white person; light skinned, blue eyed/blond person

güisa  (also "wisa" and "weesa") woman; girlfriend

güey  Homboy,Closefriend or just dude.

H [ top ]

homeboy  (also "homie") 1) a very close associate usually identified as someone from one's own barrio or neighborhood; 2) a person with whom one identifies closely with implying a strong loyalty toward; possibly derivative of Spanish hombre

homes  (also "holmes") variation on the word "homeboy", used to identify a friend also "vato"

hyna a girl, or girlfriend

J [ top ]

jaina  (also spelled "hyna", "heina", and "hayna") woman; honey; girlfriend

jale  a job

jefa/jefita  mother

jefe/jefito  (lit. "boss") father

jura  police

L [ top ]

lacra  low life individual

lambache  suck ass

lambiscón  suck ass

lana  (lit. "wool") money

la neta  "the truth" or an unquestionable axiom (as in "es laneta" means "that's the truth"), also tends to be followed with "que" as its universal conjunction to other words such as "laneta que el otro dia..." meaning "the truth is that the other day…". From la neta verdad, "the pure truth".

lanzar chingadazos  throw blows

laquiar to lock

leño  marijuana cigarette. In Spanish, "wood block".

leva  coward

llantas  (lit. "tires") a term for homemade sandals or beat-up shoes, also used to refer to extra fat acquired around the waste (similar to "rolls" or "love handles")

llevanate  behave, be cool, chill out

litro  cigarette lighter

lisa  shirt

loc  (pronounced "loke") short for "loco"; a street crazy; hardcore street tough, also maddogs or heavily tinted sunglasses

locochón  crazy

Longos  Long Beach, CA

Los  Los Angeles, CA

M [ top ]

machín  excellent, high-achieving, outstanding

manflora  (also manfi) derogatory for lesbian, dyke

máscara  face. In Spanish, "mask".

mayate/mayata  derogatory for a dark-skinned male/female, usually African American; der. from mayatl (Nahuatl) an irridescent black scarab

mayatero  someone who tries to "act black" such as saying the word nigga,

mexa  from a Mexican origin

miclo  light-skinned Mexican

mojado wetback. Any immigrant crossing the Rio Grande river (mostly Mexican). Literally, "wet".

mono  movie

mono  the devil; demon. Literally "monkey".

mota  slang for marijuana

N [ top ]

naranjas  no. Literally "oranges". In Spain the phrase "naranjas de la China" means "no way".

narices  no. Literally "noses". In Spain the phrase would be "y unas narices".

negro/a  (lit. "black") a somewhat affectionate term for a darker skinned individual of whatever race, e.g. chicano, African American or others (e.g. "vamos mi negro"), can be softened in the diminutive (negrito/a) as negro can also be derogatory

nel  no

niqle  Five cents. From the English word nickle.

no manches   don't mess around

no hay pedo  no problem; no sweat

norteño  northerner; street chapter of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, associated with the color red and the number 14.

no te quetes  don't get depressed

O [ top ]

Órale  "Right on"; "Alright!"

Ojete   asshole [example: ya no seas ojete]

Oklas   Oklahoma City or 405 used mainly by SSVL 25

P [ top ]

Pachuco  a native or resident of El Paso, Texas, later extended to mean all Mexicans and Mexican Americans adopting aspects of Pachuco culture such as dressing in zoot suits and speaking Caló.

paisa (from 'Paisano') (also "border brother") a somewhat affectionate term for recent immigrants from Mexico

panocha  pussy

pancho  (orig. nickname for the first name "Francisco") crying or complaining, used with the verb "hacer" i.e. "tu haces mucho pancho!" meaning "you do a lot of complaining"

panzón  fat man. Standard Spanish, compare English paunch.

panzona  fat woman; pregnant woman

pásame las tres  Literally, "pass me the three". "Let me have a drag" (of a cigarette)

pase  slang for cocaine

pedo  (literally "fart") intoxicated; 'estar pedo'

pedo  problem; 'no hay pedo'

perico  slang for cocaine

perromount  paramount

pestaña (pestañear)  (lit. eyelash) to sleep

phoeniquera   slang for Phoenix, Arizona

picaste  did you "get" some (from Sp. picar, to poke)

pinta  jail; prison (more specifically)

pintando paredes  to masturbate

pisto  beer; can of beer (more specifically); also general term for alcoholic beverage. In Spanish, "soup"

placa1  tattoo

placa²  (literally "badge") police

placa³  a person's graffiti tag

ponerse al alba  "to put oneself to the dawn", to get with it

ponerse zafado  to get high on marijuana

ponte las pilas  get your stuff together

Poros  Porterville Califas

putazo  a big punch.

prendido  "lit on", high on drugs; high on marijuana (most common)

Q [ top ]

¿qué onda?  "what's up?"

quemar llanta  to burn rubber (as in driving)

Quilmas  San Quentin prison

¿Quiubo? (Quíhubo, Qiobo. quióboles. Q-vo) (from "Qué hubo" meaning "What was there?"} "What's going on?"; "What's up?"

Q-vo: wats up

R [ top ]

ranfla  car; lowrider car (more specifically)

rifamos  "We rule"

refin  food

refinando  eating

refinar  to eat

rola  song

ruca  (literally: "old woman") girlfriend; woman

ruco  Old man

S [ top ]

Sacra  Sacramento, CA

safis  Oops! Some type of error.

Salas  Salinas, CA

Sancha  Girlfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover

Sancho  Boyfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover

San Jo  (pronounced "San Ho") San Jose, California

San Anto  San Antonio, Texas

San Fran  San Francisco

San Pancho  Frisco

San Pipas  San Pedro

San Quilmas  San Anto, Tejas

sawrucha  saw

sentirse aviador  "to feel as an airman", to feel high or drunk

Serio/a  "seriously", for real (also spelled Cerio/a)

simón  "Yeah", often combined with ese: simonese

soda  slang for cocaine

soflamera  whiner

songas  songs

Swata   Idiot

Sureño  southerner, street chapter of La eMe (or Mexican Mafia), associated with the color blue and the number 13.

Estéicis  (from shoe manufacturer "Stacey Adams") a brand of dress shoes favored by pachucos and swingers; a generic term for polished dress shoes

T [ top ]

ta con madre  shortened form of "está con madre" (lit. "is with mom") the best, or something really good, outstanding.

tacuche  (literally: "suit") zoot suit; fancy clothing

talonear  "to heel", to walk, also to con

tecato  heroin addict

tirando chancla   dancing your ass off

tira police

tirar la masa  (lit. "to throw corn dough") to defecate

tirarlo a león  (lit. "to ignore") to blow off, to forget about it

tirar tripa  (lit. "to throw guts") to vomit

TJ  "jerry-rigged" or of inferior workmanship, (from the initials for Tijuana, a California border town where Americans go for cut-rate dentistry, auto body repair, and upholstry)

toleco  Fify-cent piece.

torcido  (lit. "twisted") jail time; locked up in prison (most specifically)

torta  (lit. "cake") derogatory slang for a fat female

tortilla  lesbian

traer cola  "to carry a tail", to be on parole

tragazón  food, especially in large amounts. From tragar, "to swallow".

tramos  pants

trinquetiar  to cheat; to mess (someone) up

trola  cigarette lighter, match

trucha  (lit. "trout") "Watch out"; smart; wise

tubos  "tubes". Socks

turiquear  to get along; to communicate

U [ top ]

un Abril  (also "un abro") a year's jail sentence

V [ top ]

valluco Rio Grande Valley, South Texas

vasquear to vomit

vaisa  grip (possibly derived from vise grip)

varrio  neighborhood or 'hood (misspelling of barrio)

vato  dude; guy; man

verga  (lit. "mast", "pole"), "dick" "penis" "cock"

vieja  (lit. "old lady") girlfriend, wife

volar  (lit. "to fly") to hurry

W [ top ]

Watson Watsonville, CA

weso  westside

Wilmas  Wilmington, CA

wilo, güilo  skinny

wilo, güilo  male prostitute

wino  term for someone consuming large amounts of alcohol

Y [ top ]

yesca  (also "yeska") marijuana. In Spanish, "a fungus to light fire".

yonka  bike

¿Y qué?  "And what?"; "So (what)?" (used to question, add emphasis, or challenge someone)

"ay wey"  " oh, shit"

Z [ top ]

zafado  goofy

zafo  I'm out, I bail out. (used when asking for volunteers); derived from/related to

con safos (see above)

zoot suit  an outfit of male clothing consisting of large pants which become narrower towards the bottom, a stylish, a nice looking jacket which matches with the pants, and a long chain running from the pocket

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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