Buenos días, from Medellin in Colombia.
Do you like the idea of speaking like a local? Or, want to learn some basic Colombian slang words and phrases for your trip to Colombia?
I’ve spent hours traveling around Colombia and speaking to locals has allowed me to create a small dictionary of words along the way.
Colombian Slang Words: Like a local
My favorite accent and culture have been that of the Paisas. For various reasons but it all started with the Paisa accent.
Out of all the Spanish accents I have encountered on my travels in Latin America – it’s my favorite.
Before I talk more about my personal experience learning Spanish and staying in Medellin each year, get into the Colombian slang words you’ll need to become more acquainted with the paisa culture.
What is a Paisa?
In case you didn’t already know a Paisa is anyone who is from the Antioquia region of Colombia.
The word paisa derives from “Paisano” which means a person from the same country.
Paisas have a very strong culture that is impossible to ignore.
Not to mention the Paisas carry these cultural traits with them wherever they go.
How to speak like a Paisa
Here’s a list of Colombian slang and colloquialisms you can add to your conversations to help you sound like a real paisa.
Literal Meaning: Bro
Parcero/Parcera are the variations used for men and women.
Colloquial usage: It’s the most common word used in Medellín when referring to a close friend and as an expression of affection.
Read more about the meaning of Parcero for a deeper understanding!
Literal Meaning: Bro / Homosexual or foolish
Colloquial usage: When greeting a close friend. The word can also refer to a homosexual person. It’s also used when you want to say someone is very naive or stupid. Read more on the meaning of Marica to learn more.
Huevón! / ¡Güevón!
Literal Meaning: Bro, foolish/stupid
Colloquial usage: The word huevón can be used when you’re greeting a close friend or when you want to say that someone is naive or stupid.
Literal Meaning: What’s up, bro?
This is an abbreviation (shortened version) of ¿Qué hubo?
Colloquial usage: Greeting a friend or someone very close to ask about her/his life. Learn the meaning of Quiubo on this blog.
Literal Meaning: ???
Colloquial usage: Another pet word that is very common between traditional paisa people (used when expressing surprise).
Literal Meaning: How are you?
Colloquial usage: It’s common to hear the examples above when greeting a friend or an acquaintance.
Literal Meaning: Funny
Colloquial usage: When people are making jokes or talking about funny situations.
Literal Meaning: Amazing plan
Colloquial usage: The meaning of parche is when there are great plans and places for sharing with friends, family, and couples.
Literal Meaning: Well
Colloquial usage: You can use it when you want to emphasize an opinion when you want to be ironic or in other typical situations. Pues is the most popular pet word among paisa people.
Literal Meaning: Immediately, I’m ready
Colloquial usage: When people are talking about doing or making something and express availability no matter what it takes.
A la orden
Literal Meaning: What you looking for? Can I help? At your service!
Colloquial usage: When service personnel or somebody offers you their products in informal commerce setting.
Literal Meaning: ???
Colloquial usage: To express happiness and euphoria. It’s common to hear it between friends.
Literal Meaning: Police officer
Colloquial usage: An informal way to refer to the police.
Literal Meaning: What do you think?
Colloquial usage: When you are talking with a friend or someone and ask a general question waiting for advice or opinion.
Literal Meaning: Chav / Rachet
Colloquial usage: A word which can refer to a person that looks like has not had education, got bad manners, and used slang all time or has a bad accent. Read more about the meaning of nea for more insight.
Literal Meaning: Instant coffee
Colloquial usage: Many people drink instant coffee, especially in the morning or in the afternoon. It’s common to go to a ‘cafetería’ and ask for a tinto.
Literal Meaning: A strong person
Colloquial usage: When you are talking about someone who is a hard worker, or, who has faced difficult situations and continues going forward. Read more on the meaning of Berraco here to learn more.
Literal Meaning: Fool
Colloquial usage: When talking with a friend and tying as a fool but in a friendly way.
Literal Meaning: Bad food / feel sick
Colloquial usage: Refers to the bad quality and taste of the food are you eating. Also, it’s used when people feel sick but they don’t really know the reason why.
Literal Meaning: Bro, fool person/stupid
Colloquial usage: When you are greeting a close friend or when you want to say that someone is very naive or stupid.
Literal Meaning: Feel comfortable
Colloquial usage: When local people ask you about how do you feel staying in the country or in the city.
Literal Meaning: Ashamed
Colloquial usage: When you express to someone you feel ashamed and apologize.
Literal Meaning: My daughter
Colloquial usage: Typically used as a pet name to address a younger woman. Read more about the meaning of Mija which is a colloquial tern used all over Colombia.
Paisa Slang Words
Now you have a better idea of the Colombian Spanish words that you hear in and around Medellin.
See this article on Spanish curse words from other countries in South America.
I will continue to add more Colombian slang phrases as and when I pick them up or learn them.
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