8 Mexican Slang Words You Should Know

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It's Cinco De Mayo, and we're celebrating all things Mexicano. Yes, that means (responsibly) drinking margaritas, taking tequila shots, and eating our body weight in tacos, enchiladas, refried beans, and guacamole. We encourage you to also respectfully celebrate many of the things that make Mexican culture unique, enjoyable, and interesting. But, as Buzzfeed so thoughtfully explained, don't party while also wearing a fake mustache and sombrero. That's offensive. 

We've brought you the best cocktail recipes for the day, we've told you all about these amazing Mexican inventions, but why not take a moment to explore one of the lesser-discussed parts of Mexican culture: the language. Each and every Latin American country has a set of words, phrases, and terminology that makes their culture and people different. Some might label these slang words vulgar (and hell, most of them are), but they are uniquely Mexican. 

Here are eight Mexican slang words you should know, so when your friend calls you güey tonight, you'll know exactly what they mean: 

¡No Mames! (mom-ez) or ¡No Manches! (man-chez)

This phrase loosely translates to "You've got to be kidding me!" or "No way!" It's basically used to express disbelief -- positive or negative.  ¡No manches¡ is definitely the less-vulgar option.

Example: Can you believe Latina Magazine's new cover star is Romeo Santos? ¡No mames! 

Fresa (freh-sah)

Technically, a fresa is a strawberry. But, all Mexicans know it has a different meaning. Fresas are the "too rich for their own good" girls who drive Mercedes convertibles, rock all designer clothing, and think they can stomp all over you in their Christian Louboutin heels. They generally have a stuck-up attitude that no one wants to deal with. 

Example: That little fresa thinks she's a badass wearing skin-tight jeans and six-inch Jimmy Choo heels to the mall. 

Güey (way)

It means 'dude.' 

Example: Ay, güey, are we partying tonight for Cinco? 

Carnal (carr-nal)

Carnal means "brother", and it can be used as a term of endearment for your biological brother or, occassionally, to refer to any male comrade whom you love like a brother.

Example: Ay, carnal, are you going to abuela's house this afternoon for the cookout?  

Pinche (pin-chay) 

There's no way around it: pinche is not a word to be used in polite society. It translates basically to the English version of "f*cking" -- without the sexual conotation -- or "damn."

Example: This pinche article is so stupid! 

Pendejo (pen-day-hoe) or Cabron (cah-brohn) 

These both mean "idiot" or "asshole" or basically anyone you generally can't stand. (Or a friend who won't get offended when you call them a mean name)

Example: That pinche pendejo/cabron drank the rest of my margarita! 

Chido (chee-doh)

Chido is used uniquely by Mexicans to describe something 'cool.' 

Example: Loving this chido Cinco De Mayo party! 

Chela (cheh-lah)

Beer. Plain and simple.

Example: Let's drink some chelas to celebrate!

Do you have any to add? Sound off in the comments!

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About this author

Cristina Arreola, Editorial Assistant

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina Mari Arreola earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to BrooklynNew York. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking...), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or baking her favorite sweets. You can follow her on Twitter at @c_arreola

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