Annette  Sandoval

writes books and eats food 

eats food, then writes books  

Glossary of 1980s Spanish y
Slang in 10,000 Souls


Abogángster – A corrupt lawyer; the word derives from abogado (lawyer) and gangster 

Albóndigas – Meatballs; a traditional Mexican meatball soup; soup can be traced back to the Moors from the Arab invasion in 711 AD.

Abuelita – Granny; literally means "little grandmother" 

Adelitas, Las (Las Soldaderas) - Women in the military who participated in the conflict of the Mexican Revolution.

Aguas fresca – Translates to “fresh water” or “cool water.” Beverages are made by blending fruit, seeds, grains or flowers with water and sugar. 

¡Aguas! – Watch out; head’s up; literally means "waters"; historically, women in Mexico would holler the word before tossing dirty water from their window to warn passing people. Today, it's used when police or in-laws are spotted.

Amá/Apá – Mom; dad

Ándale pues – OK then; go on

Apúrate – Hurry up; hustle

¡Ay Dios mío! ¿Has llamado a la policía? – Oh Lord! Have you called the police?

Ay mamí! Deja ver tus tetas – Oh mommy! Let’s see your boobs

Ay, mija – Oh, my daughter/honey/dear

¡Ay, qué bella! – Oh, how beautiful!

Ay te huacho/ay te watcho – See you later

Babosa – Slug; dribbler; fool; simpleton

Barrida – Sweeping; a ritual cleansing for purification. An object (egg, rosemary brush, lemon, crucifix, etc.) is used to sweep away negative energies. 

Barrio – Neighborhood;  In medieval times, the Arabic word barrī, "of the land," was applied to villages and hamlets that lay in the territory surrounding a town or city. As medieval towns outgrew their original walls and overflowed into the surrounding countryside, these villages or barrios were enveloped by the expansion and became neighborhoods of the town itself.

Bebé – The most common word for baby. Always masculine, even when referring to a girl. 

Birria – A spicy Mexican meat stew usually made with goat, lamb or mutton 

Bote, el – Literally means can; jail 

Caca – Poop; a term meaning fecal matter used by Latina mothers to deter their children from touching something 

Cacahuates – Peanuts; an expletive kids use when grownups are within earshot, and vice versa; the loophole that turns crude profanity into benign food, like saying, son-of-a-biscuit, or kiss my ass-paragus 

Caliente – Hot, sexy 

Cantinflas – Mario Moreno Reyes (1911 - 1993) Actor; Charlie Chaplin of Mexico; Cantinflas made 49 films, but is best known for his role as Passepartout in the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days. 

Chale – From échale, means throw it out; no way

Chanclas – House slippers; flip flops worn by Latina mothers. Can be easily removed and used like Chinese throw stars; the scariest weapon known to Latino kids 

Chicharrónes – A popular Mexican snack that can be made from wheat or fried pork skin

China/os – Slang for person with curly hair; Asian; trousers 

Chingona –  Badass woman; a form of chingar (fuck); historically used to describe women who are “too aggressive,” while the masculine version of the word “chingon” is used as a way to compliment men.

Chispas – Sparks

Chistes – Jokes 

Chonies – Spanish slang for underwear; derived from the Spanish word for calzones; "Don't get your chonies in a bunch!" 

Chota, La – Police, the

Chucha – Female dog; bitch; nickname for some Mexican females named "Jesusa"

Claro que sí – Of course

Comida – A meal; the principal meal taken in the mid or late afternoon

Concha – Sea shell; a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll (pan dulce). The name derives from their round shape and seashell-like appearance; an offensive word for a woman's vulva

Criaturas – Kids; a cognate of creature; sometimes used as an affectionate term. Criatura is always feminine, even if it refers to a boy 

Crudo – Raw; hungover 

Cuco Sanchez – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor; composer of nearly 200 songs, including songs for some of the movies he acted in. 

Culo – Ass; booty; buttocks 

Curandera – A healer; A woman who practices folk medicine; healer; a person who cures by using medicinal plants, charms, massage, and faith healing. She believes that for every physical ailment there is both a physical and spiritual cure.

Deja de trabajar  – Stop working

Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – The patron and symbol of Mexico; the Virgin of 

Guadalupe is said to have appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill

Dicho  – A saying; an adage

Doña – Mrs.; used as a courtesy title before the name of a woman 

El Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – The Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Empanadas de piña – Pineapple turnovers

¿Entiendes? – Do you understand? 

Espanto – Terror; a more severe and potentially fatal form of susto 

Es su – It is

Esta es Roxana Zamora, la dueña - This is Roxana Zamora, the owner

Exactamundo – Fonzie's catchphrase, which Anglos mistake for Spanish

Feria – Money; literally a fair or festival 

Fútbol – Soccer; a highly respected sport in all countries except Canada and the US

Gabacha/o – Pejorative term for an Anglo person

Guácala – Ew!; Yuck!

Guacamole – Avocado-based dip. Name derives from the Nahautl word ‘ahuacamolli,’ which translates to ‘testicle sauce.’

Güera/o – Blonde; a term used for Latinos who have a fairer complexion and lighter hair/eyes.

Güey – Dude; bastard; fool; demeaning but often used with affection; from the term for a castrated bull

Gringa – An anglo woman

Hijo de la chingada – Son of a bitch 

Híjole – Jeez; a general expression of surprise, annoyance or exasperation

Hoja santa – Holy leaf

Huevón/a – An extremely lazy person; someone with large huevos (eggs/testicles) 

Ja, ja – Ha, ha

Jamburger – Bastardized word for hamburger

Jamón – Ham; the bacon; money

Jefa – Mother or wife; chief

La Casa de Cabello – House of Hair

La señora que hace los cakes – The cake lady; usually hired because she is less expensive than the bakery, and for her relation to a community. 

Lechuza – A witch that turns into an owl in Latino folklore

Limones – Lemons

Limpia – Ritual cleansing; a cleansing of the body, emotions, mind and soul from negative energies. Some people believe that it removes curses and hexes. 

Llorona, La – The Weeping Woman or The Wailer; a ghost who roams waterfront areas 

mourning her children whom she drowned

Malinche – Literally means the captain’s woman. Before she was Malinche, she was Malinali and was sold into slavery by her mother. This indigenous woman accompanied Hernán Cortés and played an active role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Seen by some as the traitor of the race; others see La Malinche as the founding figure of the Mexican race. 

Mantilla – A veil or shawl worn over the head and shoulders

Menudo - Tripe stew seasoned with chili peppers; Puerto Rican boy predating  Backstreet Boys

Michelada – Beer-based cocktail made with lime, hot sauce, Worcestershire, Clamato or tomato juice. Yum!

Mientras más invitados, más alegria la fiesta – The more people are invited, the party is more festive.

Mija – Term of affection; short from ‘mi hija’ meaning my daughter 

Milagro - Miracle

Mojado – Spanish for wet; a racial slur for an illegal Mexican immigrant who crossed the US/Mexican border by swimming across the Rio Grande 

Mota –  Literally means speck; slang for marijuana

Naranjas – Literally means oranges; nope

Niño envuelto – Mexican jelly roll made with strawberry jam and grated coconut

¡No mames! – Derives from the word mamar meaning ‘suck’; a vulgar or informal way to say you’re kidding; stop messing around; no way 

Novia, La – Bride; girlfriend

Novelas - Mexican soap operas 

Ojalá que sí – I hope so; traced back from the Arabic expression: ‘ma sha Allah’ which means ‘should God will it.’ 

Orale – A greeting; right on; expression used to encourage someone to do something

Otra vaga – Another loose one; another vagabond 

Otros, Los – The others; a derogatory way of referring to all non-Latinos 

Papaya – A tropical fruit; slang for pussy

Pierda, Papel, Tijeras – Paper, rock, scissors

Pedo – Literally means fart; intoxicated; problem; ¿Que pedo? also means, what’s up? 

Pendejas/os – Pubic hair, or anal hair; asshole; carries an extra implication of rank and willful incompetence 

Piedra, papel o tijera –  Rock, paper, scissors

Piñata – A decorated container, usually made of papier-mâché, filled with candy. Blindfolded children take turns beating the shit out of it during birthday parties or other celebrations.

Pinche – An adjective to describe something as insignificant, lousy, miserable or worthless; literally means tight, stingy, ungenerous 

Quetzalcoatl – Feathered Snake. One of the major deities of the Aztec, Toltecs, and other Middle American peoples. He is the creator of the sky; creator of the original cosmos and participated in the creation and destruction of various world periods. 

¿Qué noticia? – What news?

¿Qué onda? – What’s happening?

¿Qué tienes para colateral? – What do you have for collateral?

Quihubo /quihúbole – Greeting; "How’s it going?"

Recuerdo – Memento, memory

Remedios – Remedies; cure; woman’s name

Rosario – Rosary; wake; woman’s name

Ruca – Literally means old woman; girlfriend

Saluda a tu esposa y niños por mí - Say hello to your wife and children for me

San Pancho – San Francisco

Sebeneleben – 7-Eleven; English word that has worked its way into Spanish (sort of)

Se va al carajo – Goes to hell; going down the drain

Sesos – Delicacy tacos made from beef brains. Some people believe eating sesos will make you smarter. 

Simón – Yeah! (from Sí)

Sinvergüenzo – A shameless person

Suave – Smoothly agreeable; pleasant

Suavitel – Cheap fabric softener marketed by Colgate- Palmolive

Suéter – Sweater; English word that has worked its way into Spanish 

Susto – Scare; a loss of the soul due to a sudden frightening experience such as an accident, a fall, or witnessing a horrible event. 

Tapado – Covered; constipated; uptight 

Tierra – Earth; home 

Tin-Tan – Germán Valdés (1915 - 1973) Mexican actor, singer and comedian 

Tío – Uncle

Tonta – Dumb; foolish, silly 

Torta – Literally means cake; derogatory slang for a fat female 

Tortas de jamón – Ham sandwiches

Trampa, La – The tramp 

Tripas – Intestines

Vaga – Vague; slang for vagabond; a partier; a night owl

Vato – Dude; pal; brother; can also be used to refer to a fellow gang member

Vieja – Literally means old woman; girlfriend; wife 

Virgen, La – The virgin Mary

Yerbera – An herbalist; healer who uses medicinal herbs in her remedies. Like the curandera, she believes that for every physical ailment there is both a physical and spiritual cure.