Saturday, September 27, 2014

El Caló Mexicano

So what is El Caló Mexicano?

El Caló Mexicano is nothing more than Mexican slang.  And there's a lot of it.

I've written about a lot of Mexican slang over the years, but I've finally decided it's time I put together some kind of Mexican slang list. I thought about doing a top 10 list, but how many times has that been done?  Besides, I couldn't narrow it down to just 10 anyway.

So instead I'm going to write about some common Mexican slang that the average gringo may not have heard before.  Some of these words I use on a regular basis, some of them I just like the sound of.  Either way, I'm going to share with you my favorite caló mexicano.

Let's get to it.  BTW, these are in no particular order, I'm just writing them down as they come to mind.

Chaparrita - this word is a diminutive of chaparra, and it's a way of referring to a short woman.  Use chaparrito if you want to talk about a short man.

Me gustan las chaparritas
I like short girls

Simón - This is another (very informal) way of saying yes.  It's probably closer to yeah. 

Nel - An informal way to say no.  And now that I think about, nel is short for nel pastel. It's kind of like how we say no way Jose.  Try this on your Mexican friends and enjoy the laughs you're going to get.

Pica - You'll hear this quite a bit to refer to spicy food.  The universal word is picante, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard (and used) this word.

Is it spicy?

¿Pica mucho?
Is it very spicy?

Carnal - If you've got a really good friend you can refer to him as carnal.  This is also a way of referring to a person who actually is your brother.

¿Qué onda carnal?
 What's up bro?

Una chela - More commonly known as cerveza 

Vamos por unas chelas
Let's go get some beers

You're probably going to want that chela to be nice and cold, so you could ask for a chela bien fría.   But that's not going to impress anybody.  Instead ask for a chela bien muertaMuerta means dead.  So why would you ask for a dead beer?  The short version is dead bodies are cold, so you want your beer as cold as a dead body.  Creepy, I know, but you'll sound muy mexicano

Me vale - I don't care.  Don't ask me why, but I think this is way more fun than saying no me importa.

Me vale lo que piensas
I don't care what you think

Neta - In my book this word is way cool.  To be honest I'm surprised I haven't blogged about this before.   Neta can be used in many different ways, here are some common examples.

¿Neta wey? 
Really dude?

Es la neta
It's the truth

Stay tuned, I'm going to post about neta in the very near future.  It's a versatile word that deserves some special attention.

Morra, Morrita - A way of referring to a woman.  You can use morro to refer to a man.

Ahí nos vidrios - This is a play on words for Ahí nos vemos (see you there)

Mocoso - Snot nosed brat. Mocosa for girls.  Read my earlier post about this one.

Chupar - You have to be careful with this one, but you can use it to mean go drinking.  ¡Vamos a chupar wey! Think of this as going to suck down a few beers.  In fact, chupar means to suck.  I'll let you use your imagination and you'll quickly figure out why you need to be careful with chupar.

You can learn more about drinking in Mexican Spanish in this post.

Let's get back to the subject of alcohol.  If you want to order a shot at the bar you could ask for a trago (literally a swallow), but it you want to give your Mexican Spanish a little workout, ask for a caballito.

Un caballito - A shot.  I love this word.  Un cabillito de [favorite drink goes here].

¡Bartender!  Un cabellito de tequila

Yes, they do say bartender.

Si tomas demasidos caballitos, vas a tener la cruda
If you drink too many shots, you're going to have a hangover

Güero - It means blonde, or even a fair skinned person.  And here in the US it's also a way to refer to white Americans.

Your Spanish book will tell you that jefe means boss, and may not even mention the word jefa, which would be your female boss.  But guess what?  In Mexico there's another use for the word  jefaJefa or jefecita can refer to your mom. 

I'm going to get my mom and I'll be back.

We all know casa means house, but so does cantón.

Voy a pasar por tu cantón
I'm going to stop by your house

You could talk about your coche or carro, but you might hear a Mexican talk about his nave.

Let's talk about a few expressions.

Te voy a partir tu mandarina en gajos

If you hear this,you've made somebody awfully mad.   A mandarina is a tangerine, and a gajo is a slice or section.  So to split (partir) a mandirina (you) in gajos, means you're about to get your butt kicked.

El que no tranza no avanza - This translates to something like "if you don't cheat you don't get ahead".  I first heard this in the movie La Ley de Herodes, it's a great movie, you should check it out.

El burro hablando de orejas - I can't actually be sure that this is uniquely Mexican, but it's a nice spin on the pot calling the kettle black.

Es más cabrón que bonito - I also heard this for the first time in La Ley de Herodes too.  Literally it's something to the effect of "He's smarter than he is handsome".  You can use this for women to, but it changes to "Es más cabrona que bonita".  And if you want to talk about yourself just change es to soy

Soy más cabrona que bonita, y mira que soy muy bonita
I'm smarter than I am beautiful, and look at how beautiful I am

This post could go for a while, as there is certainly no shortage of caló mexicano, but I think it's time to wrap things up.  And don't worry, part 2 will be coming soon.

I wanted to avoid some of the more well known Mexican slang, so I'm not going to talk about the word Órale, but it's super important and you need to know about it.  Luckily I've already blogged about it - Órale wey.  Check it out.

If you want to pick up some more Mexican Spanish Amazon has a nice collection of books on Mexican Slang.  I also recommend you click here to take a look at the great post my friend TC (He's the author of No Hay Bronco) has written on Mexican slang. Be sure to read the comments, there a lot of them with even more info.

And of course you can read my other posts on Mexican Spanish.

What's your favorite caló mexicano?  Post it in the comments.

Nos vidrios in part 2!


  1. I have read some articles written by you but this one is one of my favorites. There are so many useful slang you have covered in just one article. I appreciate your work. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. My favorite calo is "No puedo ir porque no tengo mueble"- meaning I can't go. since I don't have transportation/ a car.

  3. & the full line of "me vale" is "me vale madre"

    1. Thanks for commenting!

      You are absolutely correct, that is also an option, but I generally keep this blog pretty clean.

      I discuss the more explicit language on my other blog, No Seas Pelangoche: