When you grow up Mexican and bilingual, there are plenty of Spanish phrases that can totally get lost in translation, especially if you’re around friends who don’t speak Español. Trying to explain or translate them literally, you realize how ridiculous they sound. You know, stuff like this:
Literal translation: A little.
What it really means: You don’t say!?
How it sounds in Spanish:Friend: “Estoy embarazada.” You: “A poco!?”
How it sounds if you translate it literally: Friend: “I’m pregnant.” You: “A little?”
Literal translation: “What fart?”
What it really means: “What’s up?”
How it sounds in Spanish: “Te veo enojada… ¿que pedo?”
How it sounds if you translate it literally: “You seem upset. What fart with you?”
“Soltar un madrazo.”
Literal translation: “A big mother.”
What it really means: To strike someone with force, usually on the head.
How it sounds in Spanish: “Dejate de burlarte de mis cejas o te voy a dar un madrazo.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “You better stop teasing me about my eyebrows or I will release a big mother on you!”
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Literal translation: Twins.
What it really means: Bros, buddies or compadres.
How it sounds in Spanish: “Mis cuates son buenos para tirar desmadre.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “My twins really know how to party.”
Literal translation: Bloody.
What it really means: Annoying.
How it sounds in Spanish: “No puedo soportar a ese güey, es sangrón.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “I can’t stand that fool, he’s so bloody.”
“¡Me vale madre!”
Literal translation: It’s worth a mother.
What it really means: I don’t give a shit.
How it sounds in Spanish: “Ámame o odiame, me vale madre.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “Love me or hate me, it’s worth mother to me.”
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“Por si las moscas.”
Literal translation: In case the flies.
What it really means: Just in case.
How it sounds in Spanish: “No pienso dormir en tu casa esta noche, pero voy a traer un par de calzones por si las moscas.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “I’m not planning on spending the night, but I’m bringing an extra pair of chonies in case the flies.”
“Estoy encabronada / Estoy encabronado.”
Literal translation: I have become a goat.
What it really means: Pissed off.
How it sounds in Spanish: “Ya se que me veo calmada, pero estoy encabronada.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “I know I look chill on the outside, but I have become a goat on the inside.”
“¡Sepa la bola!”
Literal translation: The ball knows.
What it really means: I have no idea.
How it sounds in Spanish: “Todos preguntan de donde fulanita saca tanto dinero para comprar Gucci pirata y yo digo, ‘Sepa la bola.'”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “Everyone is always asking where fulanita gets the money to buy all that fake Gucci and I’m all, ‘The ball knows.'”
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Literal translation: What wave?
What it really means: What’s up?
How it sounds in Spanish: “¿Que onda? ¿Ontan las muchachas?”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “What wave? Where the ladies at?”
Literal translation: Don’t suck.
What it really means: No way! (But it can be used in so many ways)
How it sounds in Spanish: Friend: “Me aceptarón en Harvard.” You: “¡No mames!
How it would sound if you translated literally: Friend: “I just got accepted to Harvard!” You: “Don’t suck!”
Literal translation: I’m fart.
What it really means: I’m drunk.
How it sounds in Spanish: “No so porque todos dicen que estoy pedo cuando apenas estoy empezando.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “I don’t know why everyone keeps saying I’m fart when I’m just getting started.”
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Literal translation: Waters!
What it really means: Watch out! Also: Be careful!
How it sounds in Spanish: “Aguas, ese perro es bravo.”
How it would sound if you translated literally: “WATERS, that dog is vicious!”
What’s you favorite untranslatable saying? Let us know and no seas gacho, hit that share button.
Tags: humorMemesMexican sayingsslang
After more than 2 years of living in Mexico my Spanish was not only fluent, but also contained a strong Mexican accent. Practically speaking Mexico was the first place where I’ve learned Spanish [Not counting Argentina, because apart from language course I didn’t interact with people that much]. I felt pretty confident about my language skills… till I started hanging out with Spanish people.
I discovered that Spanish I’ve learned is a specific type of language that can be distinguished not only by very fast speaking manner, but also words.
Here is a list of words (only the most popular ones, but there are way more of them) that are different in Mexico and other countries and also Mexican slang.
Words with different meaning in Mexican Spanish:
antier – the day before yesterday
ahorita – right now
alberca – it’s a swimming pool, not a water tank
aretes – earrings
camión – a regular bus
carro – car
chabacano – apricot
chamarra – jacket
chaparro – short
chavo – kid
chela – beer
comida corrida – daily menu (YES, some of you might argue that’s fast food, evening meal etc etc.)
computadora – computer
fresa – strawberry
huevos – balls (genitals)
jitomate – tomato
jugo – juice
llanta – car tire
popote – straw
refri (refrigeradora) – fridge
a huevo – hell yeah
a poco – no way!
a toda madre – great
ándale – c’mon
apachurrar – to crush, squeeze
cabrón – son of a bitch
cagar – to shit oneself from something (eg. laugh, fear) eg. esta bien cagado – it’s funny,
chafa – low-quality
chido – great
chilango – citizen of Mexico City
chinga tu madre – fuck your mother
chingar / no me chinges – harrass
chingon – cool
chupe / chupar – drink alcohol
chueco – crooked
cruda – hangover
dar un avión – ignore someone
desmadre – mess (in a bad sense or good – eg. party)
echando la gueva
estar bien parado – to have connections
fresa – uncultured person with fake-branded items
gorda – fat (but meaning cute)
gringo – American
guácala – yuck!
güero – blond
güey – dude
huevón – lazy
jetón – asleep
jodido – fucked up, poor
judia – bean
mandar a la chingada – send to the worst
maricon – gay
mirey (mi rey) – person to make fun of
mota – marihuana
naco – blue-collar, low-class person
neta – for real?!
no manches / no mames – you’re shitting me!
órale – right! (yes)
peda – drinking party
pedo – problem, drunk
pendejo – idiot
pinche – damn
sin broncas – without troubles
que asco – horrible
que onda – what’s up?
que padre – super cool
que poca madre / sin madre – shameless [most of the phrases that contain the word ‘madre’-mother is negative in Mexican – exception: que poca madre – great!]