Are you ready to learn some Colombian slang? Are you familiar with words like "chimba" or expressions like "estar tragado"? Whether you are planning to go to Colombia or you are following some of our exclusive Colombian TV series (e.g. Los Años Maravillosos, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa, and Tu Voz Estéreo), have we got some good Colombian slang to teach you today!
We have divided our list of Colombian slang words and phrases into the following four main categories:
4. Colombian sayings and expressions
As you will see, there is some overlap between categories. For instance, you will find the word "camello" (a job) under the "Nouns" category as well as the word "camellar" (to work hard) under the "Verbs" category.
That said, it is time to learn some very interesting stuff! If you are able to master the following list, you will be able to speak like a true Colombian. Let's have some fun!
This one comes from the adjective "bacano," which means cool.
Ese tipo es un bacán (That guy is a cool dude).
A list of Colombian slang without the word "berraquera" on it would be incomplete. Let's look at some examples so we can understand how to use this very popular word:
Esa canción es una berraquera (That song is really good (literally "a really good one")).
El equipo jugó con berraquera y ganó el partido (The team played with determination and won the game).
Ese tipo es una boleta (That guy is an embarrassment).
Los cacos robaron el banco (The thieves robbed the bank).
When you say "un camello" in Colombia, you are referring to "a job." More generally, "camello" refers to "work," as in "Tengo mucho camello" (I have a lot of work to do).
Le traigo un regalito y le tengo un camello.
I'm bringing you a little gift and I have a job for you.Play Caption
This is very useful Colombian slang when you want to indicate that someone is obsessed with something in the sense that he/she just keeps talking about the same thing over and over. "Cantaleta" is mostly associated with the action of scolding or nagging.
Que deje la vaina con esa actricita, hermano. ¡Otra vez es la cantaleta con usted! Parece novia fea.
For you to give up the thing with that little actress, brother. It's the nagging with you again! You seem like an ugly girlfriend.
Captions 11-13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 6Play Caption
Although "catorce" literally means "fourteen," it has another meaning in Colombian slang.
Dorita, ¿nos hace el catorce y la foto?
Dorita, will you do the favor of taking a picture?
Caption 60, X6 1 - La banda - Part 11Play Caption
The Colombian slang word chécheres is quite handy when you want to refer to a group of (mostly useless) things.
Esta sala está llena de chécheres (This living room is full of useless stuff).
"Chimba" is one of the most popular Colombian Spanish slang words there is! However, it is a word that can be used in many different ways. As a noun, "una chimba" is someone or something very cool.
Esa canción es una chimba (That song is very cool (literally "a very cool one").
Alternatively, the word "chimba" can be used as a synonym for "luck."
¡Me salvé de pura chimba! (I was saved by pure luck!)
Although it literally means a person from China, chino/a is a Colombian slang term for "friend," which is used almost exclusively in Bogota. Additionally, this word can be used when talking about little kids.
Oiga chino, ¿quiere ir a la fiesta? (Hey, dude, ¿do you want to go to the party?)
El parque estaba lleno de chinos (The park was full of kids).
Luis tiene chucha. Debería usar desodorante (Luis has B.O. He should use deodorant).
This colorful Colombian Spanish slang is usually used with the verb "tener" in the expression "tener churrias."
No puedo ir a la reunión. ¡Tengo churrias! (I can't go to the meeting. I have diarrhea!)
Brad Pitt es un churro (Brad Pitt is a handsome guy).
This is one of the Colombian slang words you will need to know when going to the supermarket.
¿Me puede dar dos chuspas, por favor? (Could you give me two plastic bags, please?)
El chiste de Ricardo fue un descache (Ricardo's joke was a faux pas).
The verb form of this noun is very often used in soccer/football when a player misses a good opportunity to score.
Ronaldo se descachó (Ronaldo missed his chance/didn't score the goal).
Ese chino es la embarrada (That kid is terrible).
Conocerte fue la peor embarrada de mi vida (Meeting you was the worst mistake of my life).
Generally speaking, a "gomelo" or "gomela" is someone who is young and comes from a very rich family. On top of that, gomelos tend to act in a very loud and arrogant manner.
Esa universidad está llena de gomelos (That university is full of snobs).
"¡Qué guachafita!", dijo el profesor cuando vio a sus alumnos corriendo y gritando en el teatro.
"What chaos!" said the teacher when he saw his students running and screaming in the theatre.
El esposo de Claudia grita todo el tiempo. ¡Es un guache! (Claudia's husband screams all the time. He is a very rude person!)
¡Vamos a tomarnos un guaro! (Let's go have a drink!)
And of course, if you have lots of "guaros," you will probably have a big "guayabo."
y muere nuevamente cansado y con guayabo, que es la palabra que utilizamos los colombianos para decir resaca.
and dies again, tired and with a "guayabo," which is the word we Colombians use to say hangover.
Captions 79-81, Cleer y Lida El Carnaval de Barranquilla - Part 2Play Caption
Pedro ya estaba jincho cuando llegó a la fiesta (Pedro was already drunk when he got to the party).
Literally, "llave" means "key." However, this is also another Colombian slang word for a pal.
¿Cómo está llave? (How are you, dude?)
Solo tengo 20.000 lucas (I only have 20,000 Colombian pesos).
Ese profesor es muy aburrido. Su clase es una mamera (That teacher is very boring. His class is super boring (literally "a very boring one")).
This is an adaptation of the English word "man." However, rather than its literal translation ("hombre"), this word is used as you would use the word "guy" in English.
Ese man es muy intelligent (That guy is really smart).
This is a Colombian slang word used to indicate a group or set of different snacks such as cookies or chips.
If you know the days of the week in Spanish, you know very well that "miércoles" means "Wednesday." However, just like "shoot" in English, the word "miércoles" in Colombian Spanish slang is also used as a nice alternative to avoid saying that bad word that starts with "mier..."
Bueno, y ¿quién era ese mono, todo así papacito?
Well, and who was that blonde guy, all hot like that?Play Caption
Tengo ganas de echarme un motoso (I feel like taking a nap).
These are probably the most famous Colombian slang terms for a friend. However, keep in mind that their short form ("parce") is probably used the most throughout Colombia. This word is typical paisa slang vocabulary (see "paisa" in the "Adjectives" category).
Parce, venga, yo le digo una cosa, hermano, vea
Friend, come, I'll tell you something, brother, look
Caption 1, Juanes La PlataPlay Caption
Ayer fui con mi parche a la fiesta (Yesterday, I went with my group of friends to the party).
Los vándalos aprovechan los paros para destruir las ciudades (Vandals take advantage of strikes in order to destroy cities).
This word is usually used with the verb "tener" in the expression "tener pecueca." Let's see an example:
Pedro tiene pecueca (Pedro has stinky feet).
Juan tenía una perra cuando llegó a casa (Juan was really drunk when he got home).
La pieza de Rosa es grande (Rosa's bedroom is big).
Estamos hablando de mucha plata.
We're talking about a lot of money.Play Caption
This is a slang word mostly used in Bogota and the surrounding areas.
This slang word is used with various Colombian sayings such as "¡Qué rumba!" (What a party!) or "irse de rumba" (to go out).
¿Estaba en una rumba?
Was he at a party?Play Caption
Lárguese de esta casa. ¿Usted qué está hablando, sardino?
Get out of this house. What are you talking about, kid?
Captions 7-8, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 4 - Part 3Play Caption
This Colombian slang word that usually means "toad" has two meanings. First, it is used to describe someone who is a snitch:
No le digas nada a Miguel. ¡Es un sapo! (Don't say anything to Miguel. He's a snitch!)
Second, "un sapo" or "una sapa" is a person who is perceived as someone who flatters someone with the hope of getting ahead. Let's take a look at the following clip:
son el fruto de la sinceridad, y siguen siendo los mismos a través de los tiempos. Muy bien. Qué sapa.
are the fruit of sincerity, and remain the same throughout the ages. Very good. What a toady.
Captions 78-81, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 4 - Part 1Play Caption
Being the country of coffee, don't be surprised if someone in Colombia offers you "un tintico" (a little cup of black coffee) while you are waiting somewhere.
This is one of the most useful Colombian slang words you can ever learn. Generally speaking, you can use this word in the same way you use the words "stuff" or "thing" in English. Let's look at an example:
"Pásame esa vaina, por favor", o "No entendí nada de esa vaina".
"Pass me that thing, please," or, "I didn't understand any of that stuff."
Captions 29-31, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”Play Caption
However, this word is used in several different expressions that we will mention later on. In the meantime, feel free to check out Carlos' video about the word vaina.
The word "vieja" is usually used as an adjective to talk about someone or something that is old. However, in Colombia "vieja" is a very common word people use to talk about a woman or a girl. Let's see it in action:
A mí las viejas que más me gustan son las del INEM [Instituto Nacional de Educación Media Diversificada].
The chicks I like the most are the ones from INEM [National Institute of Diversified Middle School Education].
Captions 40-41, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 7 - Part 6Play Caption
There are so many Colombian slang words to describe people and things. Let's learn some of the most useful ones.
Jaime está achantado porque la novia lo dejó (Jaime is sad because his girlfriend broke up with him).
Estoy amañado en este barrio (I feel at home in this neighborhood).
If you are wondering how to say "cool" in Colombia, this is one of the words you can use.
This is an adjective that can be used in different ways. Let's take a look.
Messi es un jugador muy berraco (Messi is a very talented player).
El jefe está berraco con su equipo de trabajo (The boss is angry at his team).
El campeón solo tiene 20 años. ¡Es un berraco! (The champion is only 20 years old. He is tough!)
You will note that, in the last example, although berraco is used as a noun in Spanish, its English translation is an adjective.
This adjective is similar to querido/a and is mostly used in Bogota. It also functions as a noun as a term of endearment, as in the following example:
Mi chata, estás hermosa (My dear, you look gorgeous).
Although this word is not unique to Colombia, it is widely used throughout the country.
Vive en Medellín. Sí. -Ah, tan chévere...
She lives in Medellin. Yes. -Oh, so cool...
Caption 4, Club 10 Capítulo 2 - Part 3Play Caption
As we mentioned before, the word "chimba" has various meanings. As an adjective, Colombians use this word when they want to talk about something that is cheap or bad.
¡Qué libro tan chimbo! (What a bad book!)
Ese bolso Gucci no es original, es chiviado (That Gucci purse isn't original, it is fake).
Mi jefe me llama cada cinco minutos. ¡Es un tipo inmamable! (My boss calls me every five minutes. He is an unbearable guy!)
Antonio solo habla de él mismo. ¡Qué tipo tan jarto! (Antonio only talks about himself. What an annoying guy!)
This adjective is usually used with the verb "estar" when you want to express tiredness or frustration. Let's see a couple of examples:
Hoy trabajé mucho. ¡Estoy mamada! (Today, I worked a lot. I'm exhausted!)
Estoy mamado de mi jefe. ¡No lo soporto! (I'm fed up with my boss. I can't stand him!)
This Colombia slang word is usually used with the verb "estar" as in "estoy prendido" (I'm tipsy).
"Estar prendido" doesn't mean "estar borracho" or "estar jincho" (to be drunk).
Aprender chino es tenaz (Learning Chinese is tough).
No me digas que se achantó porque se me declaró.
Don't tell me he was embarrassed because he told me that he loved me.
Caption 13, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 5 - Part 5Play Caption
Now that you know the word "camello," it's time to mention its verb form, "camellar." Let's listen to Carlos' explanation about this useful Colombian slang verb.
En Colombia, cuando decimos un camello, estamos diciendo un trabajo. De hecho, también usamos el verbo camellar para decir trabajar duramente.
In Colombia, when we say "un camello" [a camel], we are saying a job. In fact, we also use the verb "camellar" [literally "to camel"] to say to work hard.
Captions 12-13, Carlos comenta Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresionesPlay Caption
Tengo que cuadrar una reunión con Sandra la próxima semana (I have to schedule a meeting with Sandra next week).
You can also use the reflexive form of this verb (cuadrarse) when you want to say that someone started to date someone else:
Luis y Andrea se cuadraron hace dos años (Luis and Andrea started dating two years ago).
Let's take a look at the following video clip to see how to use this verb:
Mire, por favor, Andrea, yo sé que la embarré. Ya, lo acepto. Yo lo que estoy tratando es enmendar el error que cometí
Look, please, Andrea, I know I screwed it up. OK, I admit it. What I'm trying to do is rectify the mistake I made
Captions 23-25, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 1Play Caption
Los huéspedes se emberracaron cuando vieron la habitación del hotel (The guests got pissed off when they saw the hotel room).
This verb is typically used to describe a man who is flirting with a woman.
A Marco le gusta gallinacear con Beatriz (Marco likes to flirt with Beatriz).
When people spend time cooking and housekeeping, it is common for them to describe themselves "guiseando." This odd Colombian slang verb probably comes from the "guiso" (stew) people often prepare in the kitchen.
He estado guiseando toda la mañana (I've been cooking and cleaning the house all morning).
Although this might literally sound like "to make cow," it actually means "to collect money."
Ayer hicimos vaca para la fiesta (Yesterday, we collected money for the party).
This is one of the most typical Colombian slang phrases you'll learn today! While you might notice that its literal meaning is "to suck rooster," the following two examples will show us two of its common uses:
-¿Estás estudiando? -No. Estoy solo mamando gallo.
-Are you studying? -No. I'm just fooling around.
A Miguel le gusta reírse y mamar gallo todo el tiempo (Miguel likes to laugh and joke around all the time).
Me rajé en el examen de matemáticas (I failed the math test).
Rumbear is a common verb to talk about partying. However, don't be surprised if your Colombian friend says "rumbiar" instead of "rumbear."
Salir a rumbear sin pensar en la cuenta
To go out on the town without thinking about the bill
Caption 65, Bacilos Mi Primer MillónPlay Caption
The reflexive form "rumbearse" is also a slang word that means "to make out with" someone:
Carlos y Natalia se rumbearon en el cine (Carlos and Natalia made out at the movies).
La actitud arrogante de Luisa, me sacó la piedra (Luisa's arrogant attitude made me angry).
This is the verb form of the noun sapo we talked about earlier.
If you want to impress your Colombian friends, we invite you to use the following, very Colombian expressions and phrases.
Literally, "azotar baldosa" means "to hit the floor tile." Generally speaking, however, you can use this expression when you want to say that someone is dancing. As an alternative, you can also use the verb "rayar" (to scratch) instead of "azotar."
-¿Dónde está Patricia? -Está azotando baldosa.
-Where is Patricia? -She's dancing.
Native Spanish speakers from outside of Colombia find this expression quite amusing. It is very common, however, and you can use it as an alternative way to say "hi" or "what's up?"
Mejor dicho, no hay que dar papaya. ¿Papaya? ¡No exponernos, tía, exponernos.
In other words, we should lie low. Lie low? Not put ourselves at risk, girl, put ourselves at risk.
Captions 32-34, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 8Play Caption
"¡Déjate de vainas!" "No te hagas problemas" o "No me vengas con cuentos".
"¡Déjate de vainas!" ["Don't worry about it" or "Cut the crap"]. "Don't worry about it" or "Cut the crap."
Captions 38-40, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”Play Caption
yo he estado tragado de otras niñas antes, pero no como de Cata.
I've been head over heels for other girls before, but not like with Cata.
Captions 38-39, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 11 - Part 2Play Caption
- ¿Sabes que en algunos países comen insectos? -¿En serio? ¡Guácala!
- Do you know that in some countries people eat insects? -Really? Gross!
While the meaning of these words is "to play the bear," colloquially, this expression means something very different.
Por no haber estudiado, Fernando hizo el oso delante de la clase (Because he hadn't studied, Fernando made a fool of himself in front of the class).
Although not exclusively Colombian, ¡Listo! is probably the most common Colombian slang way to say "OK." This term is also used as an equivalent of "great." Let's see a couple of examples from the following video featuring Cleer and Lida:
Listo. Entonces, armamos el plan y nos vamos a bailar.
OK. So, we made the plan, and we're going dancing.
Caption 50, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 1Play Caption
Listo. Entonces, hasta el sábado.
Great. So, see you Saturday.
Caption 82, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 1Play Caption
"Ni de vainas," que significa, "Ni lo sueñes" o "No lo haré".
"Ni de vainas" ["Don't even think about it" or "No way"], which means, "Don't even think about it" or "I won't do it."
Captions 44-45, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”Play Caption
Si Jorge no pasa el examen final, ¡paila! (If Jorge doesn't pass the final exam, he's in trouble!)
Keep in mind that people sometimes use the plural form, "pailas."
Hermanito, pare bolas.
Little brother, pay attention.Play Caption
Pilas. Las viejas van en camino.
Watch out [literally: "Batteries"]. The old ladies are on their way.Play Caption
Although the Colombian slang term poner los cachos literally means "to put horns on" someone, this is a slang term for cheating.
Luis descubrió que Virginia le está poniendo los cachos (Luis found out that Virginia is cheating on him).
Fredy llegó borracho al funeral. ¡Qué boleta! (Fredy arrived drunk to the funeral. How embarrassing!)
As you can see, there are various Colombian slang words for the English equivalent "cool." In fact, this word is often used in the expression "¡Qué chimba!" (How cool!). Let's take a look:
Bacano. Chévere. ¡Qué chimba!
Cool. Nice. How cool!
Captions 67-69, Skampida Gustavo y DavidPlay Caption
Depending on the context, this expression can be used in a positive or negative way. Let's see an example of the former:
¿Te vas para Nueva York? ¡Qué berraquera! (¿Are you going to New York? Fantastic!)
However, this expression can also be used when you want to point out something negative:
Este es el quinto paro de la semana. ¡Qué berraquera! (This is the fifth strike of the week. Unbelievable!)
This slang word is used as an alternative to "¡Guácala!"
Similar to the meaning of the verb "embarrar," Colombians use the expression "¡Qué embarrada!" when they want to express disappointment or regret about something.
Mario perdió su trabajo. ¡Qué embarrada! (Mario lost his job. What a pity!)
¡Qué jartera esta fiesta! (How boring this party [is]!)
This is another way of saying "¡Qué jartera!" and is a very common Colombian slang expression.
Este domingo tengo que trabajar. ¡Qué mamera! (I have to work this Sunday. What a pain in the butt!)
El alcalde llegó borracho a la reunión. ¡Qué oso! (The mayor arrived drunk to the meeting. How embarrassing!)
"¡Qué vaina!" "Qué vaina" es una expresión que usamos cuando hay un problema o cuando algo malo ocurrió.
"¡Qué vaina!" [What a pity!] "Que vaina" is an expression we use when there's a problem or when something bad happened.
Captions 34-36, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”Play Caption
"Quiubo" comes from the expression "¿Qué hubo?" (What's up?) An alternative spelling for "quibuo" is "kiubo."
¿Quiubo, quiubo, linda? ¿Cómo vas?
What's up, what's up, beautiful? How are you?Play Caption
¡Quiubo, parce! (What's up, dude?/ Hi, dude!) would be a very typical Colombian slang expression using two of the words we have introduced you to today.
Literally, "una nota" is "a note." However, when you say that someone or something "es una nota," you are saying that someone or something is awesome or nice:
¡Claudia es una nota! (Claudia is awesome!)
-En dos años voy a ser millonario. -¡Ya dijo!
-In two years, I will be a millionaire. -Yeah, right!
And that's it! Did you enjoy this lesson about Colombian slang? We hope so. Before we go, we have a challenge for you. Are you able to understand the following short conversation?:
-¡Quiubo parce!, ¿bien o qué?
-Más o menos. Ayer mi novia se fue a una rumba y me puso los cachos.
-¡Uy! ¡Qué embarrada! ¿Y con quién?
-Con el mono ese que camella con ella en la oficina.
-¡Ah! Ese man es un gallinazo.
-Así es llave. ¡Gallinazo e inmamable!
Did you get that? If not, we invite you to double-check those slang words and phrases we covered throughout the article. And please, send us your comments and questions. ¡Hasta la próxima!