17 Latin American Slang Phrases That Will Have You #ROFLing hard!

Language is fluid and constantly changes. Beyond academic rules or what is supposed to be the “right way” to speak and write Spanish (as if…), everyday vernacular is what really defines the paths that language takes. It is not the tired, old and generally white males in the ivory tower of academia that should determine how language evolves, but you and me, people who think outside the box and perpetuate tradition (doesn’t it feel awesome to use that old-fashioned phrase your abuelita loved, even jokingly?).

Latin American Spanish is rich in meaning and creativity. It is the product of processes of colonization that produced hybrids of Castillian Spanish (what the conquistadores spoke) and various indigenous languages. Later, migration processes to the continent brought with them new forms of expression. Argentinian Spanish, for example, is called lunfardo and incorporates words from Italian. Anyway, here’s 17 phrases that make no real sense at first, but are a source of identity and pride.

Latino power, mi gente!

Literal translation: Green, go!
What it really means: A (white) man from the United States or a (white) man from Western Europe, Australia or Canada.

Credit: Giphy. @hbopr.

This term is no longer exclusive to describe Americans, but  anyone who looks stereotypically white. The word was coined during the Mexico-US war in the nineteenth century. The US troops wore green uniforms, and so locals would try to get them to go by simply saying: “Green, go!”. So, gringo.  

Cállate los ojos
Literal translation: Shut up your eyes !
What it really means: Oh, really!

Credit: Giphy. @hyperrpg

Used mainly by old ladies (so probably your mamá and tías and abues) when something is hard to believe. As in: “Did you see…? I think Lupe is hiding something from us…”. In unison: “Cállate los ojos”. 

Estoy bien pedo
Literal translation: I am such a fart!
What it really means: I am quite drunk.

Credit: Giphy. @camariggio

This phrase is used mainly in Mexico, where popular phrases often have to do with farting. Being pedo is basically being drunk. A peda is a party where people will likely get wasted. Also, if you wanna just say “How are you doin’?” you can simple say: “Que pedo?”… literally “What fart?”. 

Mala leche
Literal translation: Bad/rotten milk.
What it really means: adjective, describes an ill intention.

Credit: Desperate Housewives. ABC.

When someone is being mean on purpose, you could say that the carnal did such and such in mala leche. Just imagine drinking a carton of bad milk… that is the bitter taste that toxic people leave behind.

READ: 21 Latin American Flags and The Stories Behind Them

Aquí sólo mis chicharrones truenan
Literal translation: Only my pork crackles crack around here.
What it really means: I am the boss (drops mic.).

Credit: Mad Men. AMC.

Mainly used in Mexico, a land that loves chicharrones with lime and tons of salsa. Nothing worse than a soggy pork crackling, so I guess the phrase sort of makes sense…. just sort of. Will there be a vegan version soon? 

 Arrastrar el ala 
Literal translation: Drag your wing.
What it really means: Argentinian for trying to hook up with someone.

Credit: Giphy. @am85

Slang takes mysterious paths and sometimes produces poetic, yet surreal phrases like this one, specially in the land of tango and milonga. Now, if dragging your wing meant being sad because someone is just not into you (cue sad violins) that would make sense, but not this. Cool phrase, though. 

Echar un cloro
Literal translation: Splash some chlorine.
What it really means: To pee.

Credit: Giphy. @PaulLayzell

 Argentinian slang for urinating. Really confusing, as chlorine is what gets rid of that pee smell that can linger like a bad dream!

Dar papaya 
Literal translation: To give someone papaya.
What it really means:  the act of taking an unnecessary risk.

Credit: Giphy. 4GIF.

Colombian for doing stupid things like drink driving or bungee jumping without the right gear. Who knows where the tropical fruit came into play! By the way, papaya is also used to describe female genitalia in some Latin American countries. Really. 

Hacer una vaca /Hacer una vaquita 
Literal translation: To make a cow/To make a little cow.
What it really means: Collecting a pot of cash for a common purpose.

Credit: Giphy.

Say you and your buddies are going to watch a game and need to buy snacks and drinks. Que hueva calculating how much each needs to pitch in exactly, so just get people to put in whatever and make a cow for the common good.

Hablar hasta con los codos
Literal translation: To talk even with your elbows.
What it really means: No one can shut you up.

Credit: Giphy. MakeAGIF.

This phrase is used to describe that person who just talks and talks and talks and talks… Perfect for that person who is a chismoso and just blabbers every time you see him. Not necessarily an insult… more like a subtle burn. 

Esqueleto rumbero
Literal translation: A rumba-dancing skeleton.
What it really means: someone who is super skinny.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

Cubans love their rumba and their metaphors. If you say that someone is an esqueleto rumbero that means that the person needs to put on a few pounds… like yesterday.

Echarse un taco de ojo 
Literal translation: Eat an eye taco.
What it really means: Looking at someone lasciviously (translation: you are a bit of a creep, dude).

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

This phrase comes out of Latin America’s everyday macho-talk. This is one of those slang phrases that just needs to go into oblivion. To echarse un taco de ojo means going somewhere to look at beautiful people and basically objectifying them. Stalker, much?

Dar jugo
Literal translation: To give someone juice.
What it really means: To procrastinate… so probably what you are doing right now 🙂

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

Chilean for wasting your time or postponing the inevitable.  How that can possibly be related to juice is an enigma. 

Liz Taylor
Literal translation: Liz Taylor.
What it really means: Ready!

Credit: A Place in the Sun. Paramount Pictures.

Chilean slang for ready, which is listo in Spanish. Somehow that mutates into listeilor and then Liz Taylor. Go figure. We wonder if the Hollywood diva ever found out about this. 

Al chile 
Literal translation: To the chili pepper.
What it really means: To speak truthfully.

Credit: Giphy. @wizardsmagic

In Mexican slang, penises are often referred to as chiles (chilis). So that might have something to do with this. You would say something like: “Al chile, are you trying to scam me or something?”.

El chivo
Literal translation: The goat.
What it really means: The bicycle.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

Cuban Spanish is one of the most complex in Latin America, and often words don’t quite mean what you think they do. If you go to Havana and want to do a bike tour, remember to actually ask for a goat.  

Jamar un cable
Literal translation: To voraciously eat a cable.
What it really means: To struggle financially.

Credit: The Simpsons. FOX.

Another Cuban linguistic gem. How being homeless or out of job relates to eating a cable is not quite clear, but the phrase has a strong, dramatic ring to it. 

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America


Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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