What’s the best way to brighten up your Spanish?
How can you add a little extra color to your conversations?
It’s easy. Put the textbook down for a minute, and start picking up some new slang.
Language learners love slang because it’s fun, vivid and unique. Plus, it just feels cool to use. You can show off your new slang vocabulary to all your language learning friends and trade new words and phrases like Pokemon cards.
And Spanish offers a lot of slang.
You have your Mexican slang. Then there’s Spanish slang. And don’t forget South America—there’s also Argentine slang, Chilean slang, Peruvian slang and Ecuadorian slang. With lots of other Spanish-speaking countries and regions, that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
On today’s slang agenda, however, we have the glorious, vivid slang of Puerto Rico. So dive in and prepare to learn some great words and phrases!
What Makes Puerto Rican Slang Unique?
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Why does that matter to Puerto Rican slang? Well, perhaps because of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the U.S., a lot of Puerto Rican slang words and phrases are Anglicisms, or words/phrases borrowed from the English language. Anglicisms can be useful for English-speakers learning the language, because they feel familiar and are therefore easy to remember.
While these Anglicisms can be intriguing and appealing, Puerto Rican slang has more to offer than just Anglicisms alone. Puerto Rican slang (like much of the world’s slang) also often focuses on abbreviating longer words in interesting ways. This can be confusing for non-native speakers, but it leads to a more dynamic and exciting language.
Why Do You Need to Know Puerto Rican Slang?
Getting comfortable with Puerto Rican slang will open windows to a new facet of the Spanish language and to the everyday culture of the island. Here’s how:
- You’ll sound local. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico and don’t want to stand out, learning Puerto Rican slang is one of the quickest ways to sound local. This is a great way to experience more authentic culture rather than always being treated as a tourist.
- You’ll understand the Spanish language in greater depth. Learning different facets of the Spanish language such as Puerto Rican slang will help you see the diverse and dynamic nature of the language.
- You’ll be able to communicate more easily with Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S. There are a number of large Puerto Rican communities throughout the continental U.S. Learning Puerto Rican slang will help you communicate with Puerto Ricans near you!
- Puerto Rican slang is just plain fun. There are some very interesting and colorful terms and phrases. You might work them into your regular Spanish vocabulary even if you aren’t communicating with Puerto Ricans. Yes—Puerto Rican slang is that good.
Resources for Learning Puerto Rican Slang
If you have a limitless appetite for Puerto Rican slang and 14 words and phrases isn’t enough, here are some helpful resources you can use to expand your vocabulary.
- Bambinoides, an international news website, maintains an excellent list of expressions.
- Dialecto Boricua is a Spanish-language blog dedicated to the dialect of Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico.
Gufiao! 14 Puerto Rican Slang Phrases to Make You Sound Like a Boricua
Admittedly, the word boricua isn’t technically slang, but it’s a popular word that’s important to Puerto Rico. It’s also frequently used in conversation, and not knowing it’ll make you sound silly. Therefore, it’s front and center on this list.
Boricua is a term used to mean “Puerto Rican.” Before the Spanish arrived on the island now called “Puerto Rico,” the indigenous Taíno people called the island Borikén (also spelled Boriquén and Borinquen). Boricua is simply a name for the local people derived from the island’s original name, but let’s face facts—it’s just more interesting than puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican).
While the spelling varies, janguiar,janguear and hanguear are all slang for “to hang out.”
Try saying any variation out loud. You’ll notice it sounds a lot like “hang.” That’s because this slang word is an Anglicism. It was derived from the American expression “hang out.” Use it to talk about hanging out with friends or just relaxing.
Broki is Puerto Rican slang for “buddy.”
Again, this word may look familiar. That’s because it’s derived from the popular English-language slang “bro.” The “ki” suffix makes it diminutive, making the term more affectionate.
You probably already know tirar as a verb meaning “to throw” or “to throw away.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, it can also mean “to hit on” or “to diss” or “to shoot” (as in a person). Given its diverse meanings, try to be careful with your use of tirar. Context is important, and slipping up could come across as a threat.
Acho and chacho are both short for muchacho (guy).
However, these slang words are usually used between thoughts, similar to how we use the word “well…” in English to transition between ideas or change subjects.
Alternately, acho and chacho can also mean “what’s up?”
6. A mi, plín
A mi, plín literally means “to me, plink.” Still unclear? Well, “plink” usually means “to shoot at for fun.” Think “Plinko” on “The Price is Right.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, a mi, plín usually means “I don’t care.” It’s a bit more colorful than no me importa (I don’t care).
It looks like tirar. It sounds like tirar. It’s like tirar, but it only ties to one slang meaning of tirar,which relates to a diss. Yes, tiraera or tiradera is the noun form of the verb tirar. While the slang tirar can mean “to diss,” tiraera or the alternate spelling tiradera refers to a diss, a verbal feud or the act of purposefully antagonizing. Tiraera or tiradera is also often used to describe feuds between rappers.
For instance, you might say Kanye West and Taylor Swift have a tiraera/tiradera.
8. Al garete
Al garete originally referred to when a ship was adrift. It’s used as an adjective.
In Puerto Rican slang, it has a wide variety of meanings. It can mean “wild,” “off the rails,” “disastrous” or “out of it.”
For instance, if you hosted a party and it went poorly or got out of control, you might say “la fiesta se fue al garete” (“the party went off the rails” or “the party was disastrous” or “the party was wild”).
Nebuloso literally means “cloudy,” “foggy” or “vague.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, nebuloso can also mean “untrustworthy.” It’s kind of like the English slang word “shady” in both its literal and figurative meanings.
In Puerto Rico and its neighbors Cuba and the Dominican Republic, chavos is slang for “money.”
Don’t confuse it with chavo, which means “guy” in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.
This one’s a good example of the pin balling paths slang words can take as they develop. Gufiao is a contraction of gufeado,which is derived from the English word “goofy.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, gufiao actually means “cool” or “awesome.”
Like gufiao, gufear is derived from English. However, in this instance, gufear means “to goof around” or “to joke around.”
13. Bregarle Chicky Starr
This one requires a little dissecting. Bregar is the verb for “to struggle.” For this phrase, it’s used with an indirect object (le) to refer to the person being affected.
Chicky Starr, meanwhile, is a Puerto Rican wrestler, cast as the antagonist in the ring.
In slang, bregarle Chicky Starr means “to play dirty with someone,” “to betray someone” or “to turn on someone.” It’s a humorous but negative phrase. And it certainly is entertaining and colorful!
If you hear someone say mano your immediate thought will probably be that they mean “hand.” Totally understandable. Mano usually does mean “hand.”
However, in Puerto Rican slang, the exclamation ¡Mano! is an abbreviation of hermano (brother). Indeed, in slang it’s used to mean brother; however, as an exclamation, ¡Mano! roughly means “hey, bro!”
Congratulations on having learned some valuable and intriguing Puerto Rican slang.
But remember: These great slang words and phrases are by no means all there are to learn. Think of them as a helpful nudge on your path to full proficiency in Puerto Rican slang.
To learn more, enjoy some time in Puerto Rico or hang out with Puerto Ricans near you!
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This article is part of the series Top 5 Spanish Slang Words Searched on Google where we feature a full list examples for:
1. Spanish slang for friend
2. Spanish slang for weed
3. Spanish slang for white person
4. Spanish slang for cool
5. Spanish slang for girl
Spanish slang for friend is the first suggestion that Google gives you when you type in the phrase “Spanish slang for” in the search box. So, let me tell you that there are a lot of words. For example, the Diccionario de Americanismos lists 140 terms! I did my research using all the resources of my Spanish slang library and here is a list of a good amount of Spanish words used in Latin America to refer to a close friend or dude. All in one place!
Amigo is the common generic translation for friend in Spanish and from that word you can get some variations such as amigazo, amigocho (Mexico), amigui (Chile) and amigucho. But if you want to blend with locals, you should consider some words from this list:
53 Examples of Spanish Slang for Friend
1. acere: Cuba
2. alero: This is the Spanish word for “eaves,” but can mean friend in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
3. bonco: It is used in Cuba to refer to a close friend or also attractive men
4. bróder or brother: Venezuela, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic and Ecuador use the Spanish adaption bróder, but Puerto Rico and Bolivia use the English “brother” according to the Diccionario de Americanismos.
5. broster: from the word “brother” in Peru
6. buey: This is the Spanish for “ox,” but also means friend in Mexico and Nicaragua.
7. cabro: Costa Rica
8. cabrón: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
9. carnal: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina and Venezuela.
10. causa: Peru
11. chamo: Venezuela
12. chero: Honduras and El Salvador
13. choche or chochera: Peru
14. chómpiras: Mexico
15. cobio: Cuba
16. collera: a group of close friends in Peru
17. compa: It is a contraction from compañero and it is used in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina and Costa Rica.
18. coño de madre: Venezuela
19. consorte: Cuba, Puerto Rico
20. cuaderno: Mexico
21. cuadro: Colombia
22. cuate: I though that this was a Mexican only word, but it surprised me that it is also used in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Paraguay according to the Diccionario de Americanismos.
23. cúmbila: Cuba
24. diablo: used in Venezuela (among gangs)
25. ecobio: Cuba
26. el mío: Venezuela
27. fren: Panama. From the English “friend.”
28. gallada: Peru, Colombia
29. gancho: This word means “hook” in Spanish, but it is used in Chile as “friend” or “buddy.”
30. gauche: Venezuela
31. gomía: This word is formed by changing the syllable order of “amigo” in Argentina.
32. güey: In Mexico used as a noun is “friend,” but it also can be used as an interjection to express surprise
33. hermano or hermana: This one is used almost in all Latin America: Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and less used in Costa Rica.
34. llave, llavería or llavero: Colombia
35. llave: Dominican Republic, Venezuela and North of Colombia
36. mae: Costa Rica
37. manito: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, Mexico
38. mano: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Panama.
39. ñaño or ñaña: Peru and Northwest of Argentina
40. ñero or ñera: It is short for compañero or compañera and is used in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela and Colombia (North and Southwest)
41. pana fuerte: Puerto Rico
42. pana: Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia (West), Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
43. panadería: Venezuela
44. panaful: Dominican Republic
45. panita: Puerto Rico and Ecuador
46. parce: Colombia
47. parcero: Colombia and Ecuador
48. pasiero: Panama
49. pata: Cuba, Peru, Boliva (Souhwest) and Chile
50. primo: Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica and Eastern Boliva
51. vale: North of Colombia and Venezuela
52. won: from the word “huevón” in Peru.
53. yunta: Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru
There are plenty of more words, but I think this list will give you a good taste from all over Latin America. If you want to know more Spanish slang for friend check the Speaking Latino online dictionary here.
In the next posts of this series The Top 5 Spanish Slang Words Searched on Google I will give you the list for weed, white person, cool and girl.
Check out these other Spanish Slang Word articles.