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Puerto Rican slang words and phrases

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This is a list of phrases, words, and slang used in Puerto Rico. There are many phrases that are funny in one place and mean nothing in another country that speaks Standard Spanish.

Here is a list of commonly used slangs in Puerto Rico, their purposes and a loose translation into the English language:

  • Acho (Usually used as a conjunction to bridge between thoughts) - It comes from "muchacho", which means "guy", or more closely related to "man" in English slang, as in hey man, what's up. Acho and Chacho are both abbreviations of the same word.
  • Mano! (literally means hand, but it is short for hermano, which means Hey brother!)
  • ¿Qué es la que hay, ¿Qué es la que estapa?, ¿Qué es la que? (for short) (what's up), ¿Claque? (even shorter)
  • Algarete - The word literally means in Spanish wayward, without a given path. It is said of a ship at sea, without a sail, having no defined course. It is used to describe something crazy, out of control, disorganized.
  • A calzón quitao - Literally meaning "without pants on," it is used to mean something said without prejudice but also without tact, bluntly honest.
  • Acángana interjection, similar to "In your face".
  • Ahí va, a las millas del chaflán! (criticism, there he (she) goes, speeding that car with hellish speed!) When somebody is running their mouth.
  • A mi plín Literally meaning of "I don't care"
  • Arroz, que carne hay! - Flirt phrase meaning "give me rice to go with all that meat"
  • Ay que ver como bate el cobre it to be seen how things turn out.
  • Bregaste Chiqui Starr - Alluding to Puerto Rican professional wrestler heel, it is said to someone who was not of good faith or who has betrayed someone else. Used the same as Bregaste Cajita e pollo, ("you handled it like a box of fried chicken).
  • Broki - Buddy.
  • Carajito - Derogatory reference to a little boy
  • China - May refer to the country "China", a female from or of Chinese descent. It also may refer to the color or fruit "Orange".
  • Colgué and its many adjectives, such as colgar, colgaste and others, as in me colgué (colgué or colgar, when told to a student who is failing in school, is a criticism). Literally it means "to be hanged," but the proper translation of the meaning and usage would be I flunked at school
  • Capea! - to give a Blowjob
  • Chavo - Dinero
  • Correr la máquina, warning the person he is beaming misled. Literally means to run the machine, meaning to maintain a person conversation on a defensive mode by harassing him.
  • Corillo, crew
  • Como alma que lleva "el" diablo! (comical, he (she) took off running as if his (her) soul was possessed by the devil) - Usually meaning either someone who left very fast or very angry.
  • Como budín de esquina
  • Dar un tumbe (we are gonna kill or steal, criminal, usually used by mafiosos)
  • Dejo los tennis en el piso! (comical, he (she) ran so fast that he (she) left his (her) tennis shoes right there!)
  • Farandulera a girl who likes to dress up for any event even if its goin to her front porch, dressing like a movie star
  • Echa caldo
  • Echar leña al fuego; warning the person to back off. Literally means to feed wood to the fire, meaning to add to a controversy.
  • Está que estilla - Tight looking.
  • En el carro de Don Fernando, un ratito a pie y otro andando -this rhymes in Spanish- (literally translated as in Mr Fernando's car, some of the time walking and the rest also walking) - when there is no working car at reach) - Said to comical effect when there is no car available to use.
  • Ese salió por lana y llegó trasquilao (comical, meaning that a person went for something, using lana-money as an example, and came back worse than when the person left)
  • Estás buena(o)! (sexist, you're fine!)
  • Está(s) brutal!! ( you're brutal!, or it's brutal! could be either a compliment or insult, depending on the situation. It is usually a compliment, like "you're a beast", or "this is awesome")
  • Estás tenso, papá! (comical, invented by Sunshine Logrono, a satirical phrase towards homosexuality, Your muscles are tense, daddy!!)
  • "Galan": dandy, dude
  • Guillao - Full of himself or herself. It comes from another Puerto Rican term meaning "guille" which roughly translates as "pride" (but it has a negative connotation) or "delusion" (i.e. someone who has a "guille" of being something they are not much like a "poser" or a "wannabe").
  • Guagua - A city bus (or pick-up truck)
  • Hacerse el loco - Literally translated as trying to pass off as crazy, it means to try to ignore or distance oneself from a particular situation.
  • Las cosas se pusieron a chavito prieto (comical, to describe a serious economical situation, Things turned for a penny each), also Las cosas se pusieron color de hormiga brava (Things turned the color of the feisty ant) Said when things are getting tense, serious, or strict.
  • Los huevos se pusieron duros (same as Las cosas se pusieron a chavito prieto, the eggs turned hard) <--- These last 2 phrases are also known as "Se pusieron los huevos a peseta". It has a historical background to it, relating to the selling of eggs and other raw materials at the plaza in the center of the town (municipality). When the eggs incremented in price, it was difficult for people to get a hold of them. Meaning, its a stressful or tight situation.
  • Melaza, it's actually pure sugar cane juice, but it is used to say something, someone or a situation is great.
  • Melon - Watermelon, referred to as Sandia in most Spanish speaking countries.
  • Mas lento que una caravana de cojos - Phrase to describe something or someone that is very slow.
  • Mas pelao que la rodilla de un cabro- To be poor or having no money at all.
  • Mira equivalent to "Hey"
  • Mi amigo el pintor! (comical, my buddy the painter, used frequently to make fun of men whose wives commit adultery). It makes reference to an old Puertorican tv show called Desafiando a los Genios with Jose Miguel Agrelot, Shorty Castro, Ema Rosa Vicenti and others, in which a naive participant, always carrying a "lonchera" will always describe his "best friend the painter" as someone always taking care of his (the participant's) wife. It was obvious to the viewer that the wife was being unfaithful with the painter, and eventually the phrase came to refer as infidelity.
  • Miércoles! (Wednesday, a minced oath for "Mierda", which means "Shit". English equivalent is "Shoot!")
  • No seah insehto! (Don't be an insect, most frequently pronounced muting the last 's' in 'seas' and the 'c' in 'insecto' for an accentuated slang effect)
  • No lo encuentran ni en los centros espiritistas (comical, it can't even be found in a spiritualist center, when things get lost). In Puerto Rico, and in many other Latin American countries, spirituality was important to such an extent, that people believed some were able to communicated with the dead. This phrase alludes to a person being lost, and not even the witch doctor being able to find him.
  • Ñoña es! "No way!"
  • Oiteh "Did you hear me?" Viteh "Did you see?" (Note: Same as "Oiste?" and "Viste?". See Puerto Rican Spanish)
  • Pa que tu veas donde el grillo tiene la manteca
  • Piragua - A Puerto Rican frozen treat shaped like a pyramid.
  • Pichear to ignore.
  • Perro que huele carne.... (comical, Dog that smells meat... describes a situation where a person might suspect something he or she wants is within reach)
  • Se formó un corre y corre! (comical, A race was formed for everyone to get out of there!, exact meaning as Se formo un sal pa' fuera!)
  • Pompeaera to be pumped up.
  • Se formó un sal pa fuera! (comical, A get-out-of-here-situation formed! to describe a violent situation in which many ran from the scene in a lighter way, also used to describe a street fight or other violent situations)
  • Se judió la bicicleta! (comical, the bicycle got screwed! when a situation just spirals out of control)
  • Se lució el chayote! (criticism, chayote is a vegetable the chayote is showing off! to speeding drivers, honking drivers or drivers that screech their wheels before parking their car)
  • Siéntate a esperar! (Sit down and wait!, used when a person promises someone something while lying)
  • Tanto nadar para ahogarse en la orilla! (lament, so much swimming, only to drown at the coastline, usually used for someone who has come very close to complete something but failed)
  • Te cagaste del miedo! (comical, you shit your pants from being scared!)
  • Tú eres bien fiebrú(a)! (usually a compliment, you're really into that!, to admire someone's passion for something)
  • Tú me estas tripeando (equivalent to "you're making fun of me!")
  • Tú sí que eres presentao!, so presentao! and tú eres bien presentao! (criticism, when someone thinks the other person is getting into what is not your business)
  • Va pa chirola! (someone is going to jail)
  • Vete pa'l Caribe Hilton! (minced oath of Vete pa'l carajo!)
  • Vete pa'l carajo! (insult, sometimes accompanied by a so cabrón(a) right after it. Its meaning is analogous to go to hell!)
  • Volando bajito! (criticism, flying low, usually to describe speeding drivers or to a person who tries to commit any given act without anyone else finding out)
  • Wa-Wa! (noun, "Bus")
  • Y se le(s) está haciendo tarde! (sports phrase, And it's becoming too late already!, when an individual or team is far behind on scoring as the event nears its conclusion)
  • Como el Rosario de la Aurora (it is used when a party ends up with a fight)
  • Se armó la de sanquintín (It formed la de sanquintin) similar to "El Rosario de la Aurora"
  • Chota tattletale (known in Mexico as soplón
  • Comemierda (literally, shit-eater) it is used when some person thinks that he/she is all-knowing and/or all-deserving (known in American English as "snob" or stuck up)
  • Voy a caballo y vengo a pie - Literally, Went in a horse and return walking

Some phrases from other countries (especially those used in El Chapulín Colorado and El Chavo del Ocho Mexican shows) have made their way into Puerto Rican slang. Among the most popular ones are Chapulíns No contaban con mi astucia (they didn't count on my smarts), Siganme los buenos! (Follow me, the good ones!) and Chavos Fue sin querer queriendo! (I didn't do it on purpose!).

  • Gafas - Sunglasses
  • Safacón - Garbage can
  • Loco Crazy or crazy man, it can be also used as an equal to dude or buddy in English. In West Coast communities the word has been adopted by English speakers as "loc" (pronounced lowck).
  • Yuca (cassava, yuca root, if used in a salution 'es yuca, que la que hay', otherwise can be used to call someone a jerk, a dork 'tu eres tan yuca', Yuca is slang for the male sexual organ as in pelar la yuca (peel the cassava) and rascayuca (cassava scratcher).
  • " Que pasa Pai o Mai"- What's up dude or What's up girl?
  • "En lo que el palo va y viene"


Published - January 2009

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