Colombian slang terms generally consist of light plays on phrases and specific words in Spanish that are specific to native Colombia or those living in the country. The Spanish language has many regional dialects, and Latin American countries generally signify a region in this case.
Slang words are a great way to understand the intricacies of a culture. Colombian slang words are primarily catchy phrases, quick hits, old stand-by sayings, flirtatious expressions, and other figures of speech used in an informal way of communication among people who either know each other well — and sometimes by people who aren’t very fond of one another.
Usually these terms are used in spoken word — not written Spanish, but like everything in life, there are exceptions.
Qué más — in Medellin, what you hear on the street will vary from what you’d hear in Bogota or Cali. Bacano — cool — is the same as chévere but those in Bogota use the latter more often when talking about partying.
Sit back with some guaro and learn these Colombian slang terms, ese.
Colombians refer to themselves as “paisas” much as Costa Ricans refer to themselves as “ticos.” Pais is Spanish for country, and this term is adapted to mean being one of their country.
Este es el bar favorito de los paisas! — This is the locals’ favorite bar!
Colombians refer to their money, Colombian pesos, as lucas or platas much like Americans call dollars ‘bucks.’ You’ll hear (and probably use) this term in cafes, stores, and bars.
Parce, ¿tienes lucas para esta noche? — Bro, do you have money for tonight?
Chimba is perhaps the most common general Colombian slang term. In this case it means ‘that’s cool’ but chimba can also mean shitty or unbelievable also, depending on the context and tone of voice.
¡Qué chimba! — That’s awesome!
¡La chimba! — No way!
This term refers to exactly what it sounds like, though it doesn’t inherently refer to having an STD. Colombians tend to use it when they have a quick moment of panic — maybe they’re late for work or can’t find their keys. Sometimes they’ll use it to describe a person in a derogatory manner, like ‘look at that douchebag over there.’
Mira a este Gonorrea. — Look at this douche.
This one means to be alert or ready, or keep your wits about you.
Estaré allí en pronto. ¡Pilas! — I’ll be there in a flash, be ready!
This is something Colombians shout when they want to use profanity but aren’t in an appropriate place to do so. Kind of like how Americans will say ‘shoot’ or ‘dang it.’ You may also hear them say ¡Juepucha!
Boss: Lo siento, pero no recibiste la promoción. — I’m sorry, but you didn’t get the promotion.
Employee: Miércoles Jon, por qué no? Trabajé muy duro? — Dang it Jon, why not? I worked so hard?
What’s up, bro? This is a common saying in Colombian cities and you’ll hear it regularly — even as a tourist (pay attention to how Colombians address each other.) ‘Parce’ or ‘parcero/a’ in particular is used casually — you won’t hear an employee say this to his/her boss, for example.
Person 1: ¿Quiubo, Parce? — What’s up, bro?
¡Preparandose para la rumba! — Getting ready for the party!
On that note — the ‘rumba’ is the party itself. To go out to the party is rumbiar — “to party” in Colombian Spanish.
¡Tengo una rumba y quiero que vengas! — I am having a party and I want you to come!
This term in Colombian for dance, and is used in reference to going out at night. The term comes from a nightclub of the same name in the Colombian city of Cali.
¡Finalmente es el fin de semana y quiero changó esta noche! — It’s finally the weekend and I want to dance tonight!
Colombian slang for the police, similar to ‘the cops’ in English. This term is native to Colombia and used mostly in young social settings.
¡Oh, mierda, vienen los tombos! — Oh shit, the cops are coming!
A sapo is the one who called the cops on the party — it’s how Colombians refer to a snitch or a tattle-tale.
No invites a Jerome, es un sapo. — Don’t invite Jerome, he’s a snitch.
Polas means beers in Colombian — what you’ll be having at la rumba. Club Colombia, Pilsen, and Poker are among the most common mass-produced beers in Colombia, though if you’re in a major city you’re never too far from a Bogota Beer Company.
Parce, tuve demasiadas polas anoche! — Bro, I had too many beers last night!
This term literally means “the patch” but signifies your crew — the people you head to la rumba with. Groups of friends use this term to describe themselves.
¡Llegué con mi parche y nos lo pasamos muy bien! — I came with my crew and we had a great time!
This is how Colombians refer to being buzzed — estoy prendido, amigo. It literally means “to be lit” but, as in American slang, lit is interpreted as ‘buzzed’.
Estaba prendido anoce. — He was lit last night.
If you’ve taken it a step beyond prendido, than you are jincho, amigo. This term means to be drunk.
¿Viste a Ron anoche? ¡Estaba jincho! — Did you see Ron last night? He was hammered!
After the jincho, you’re going to have a hangover — known in Colombian Spanish as a guava tree, or guayabo.
¡Apuesto a que Ron tiene una guayabo masiva ahora mismo! — I bet Ron has a massive hangover right now!
If you meet someone who steals your heart in Colombia, you are said to be tragado. This term means to be smitted.
Estoy tragado y no hay nada que pueda hacer al respecto. Ella me robó el corazón. — I am in love and there’s nothing I can do about it. She stole my heart.
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