Wednesday, January 30, 2008


An individual who disregards the norms-social, legal, etc.-for personal gain, usually affecting others, is referred to as gandalla (gun-DUH-jah) or gandul (gun-DOOL). Typical gandalla behavior includes, but is not limited to, bullying kids in school, skipping a queue, driving on the shoulder when there is a traffic jam, driving behind ambulances, parking on spots for the handicapped, etc.

The verb agandallar means to get something by being a gandalla. Gandallas live by the maxim el que agandalla, no batalla which means "that who snatches does not have to struggle".

Note: In Mexico City, as in any other place where car-rides take an obscene amount of time, people hate riding in the back seat, especially "riding bitch" (i.e. in the middle, with no window). A civilized way to deal with the problem of assigning seats when there are two or more passengers is giving the right to ride "shotgun" (i.e. in the passenger seat) to the person who first shouts shot (short for "shotgun"), and the right to ride next to window in the back seat to the person who first shouts shot güindou (from window). However, cynical gandallas have circumvented this unwritten rule by popularizing the axiom gandalla mata shot, which means "grabbing the seat overrules shot". Beware.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mamón (and related words)

References to suck [as a verb (mamar) or as a noun (mamón, mamadas)] are widespread in effective contemporary Spanish. 


Refers to someone particularly pompous, stuck-up, obnoxious, arrogant, uppish (you get the idea)

However its rather simple core translation to english, mamón is noteworthy for its florid conveyance.
  1. ¡No seas mamón!: don't be an asshole
  2. No seas mamón (in tone of disbelief): are you shitting me?
  3. No seas mamón: (as a plea) Please! c'mon
  4. Ese güey es re mamón: That guy is a snob
  5. Está re mamona tu nave: Your ride is hot, looks expensive 

(a blow job)
  1. Eso es una mamada (That is far fetched, that is a blow job)
  2. Es una mamada lo buena que está mi maestra de yoga (My yoga teacher is hot beyond belief)
  3. No digas mamadas (get real)
  4. No mames (for real?)
  5. Mameeees (for real?)
  6. Estas mamando (you're lying)
  7. No mames cabrón (stop it dude)
  8. Tu guacho está de no mames (your watch is awesome)
  9. Ni de mamada (No fucking way, that doesn't stand)
  1. Ese luchador está mamadísimo: That lucha libre wrestler is pumped up
  2. Estoy mamadísimo: I'm exhausted


(lit. potatoes)

Ok, let's do it, let's go get it, chido

Papas is an unequivocal expression of agreement or consent. 
  • Vamos por unos taquitos ¿no? "¡Papas!
It can also mean closing the deal
  • Nos fuimos a su casa y ¡papas!

Arguably, the term derives from  pin, pon papas, saca la mano y escapas; a clapping game handy for succesive elimination. The game got popular in a satire of Superman in the iconic show: La Carabina de Ambrosio during the 70's. 

Supermam (short for Super Mamón) would crank a pin pon papas after every bad joke (each of those a mamada on their own right) or as a means to transform into Supermam.

La neta

The literal meaning of neta (NEH-tah) is net, i.e. what is left after what must be subtracted has been subtracted. It has several meanings, all equally relevant and deep.

La Neta (with capital "N") is the ultimate truth or something that produces the same bliss. For instance, estos tamales son la Neta (these tamales are making me bliss out). When used without capital "N", neta means truth and neto means truthful or truthfully. For instance, me dijo la neta (she told me the thruth), and ¿neto? (are you serious?). Echar netas means to get into an open discussion of one's feelings, usually with the help of liquor.

La Neta es chida, pero inalcanzable (the Neta is cool but unreachable) was one of the tenets of the youngboys in "Y tu mama tambien".

Monday, January 28, 2008


Cribb, pad, home, house.

Also: jaula (cage), chante, 

Va a haber un reventón bien chido en mi cantón (The party in my cribb is going to be a blast)

El mero mero


The unchallenged leader, The Man, the boss, the alpha male.

According to the Spanish Academy, the adjective mero denotes purity and singleness. From the alleys in the slums to the top corporate and government spheres, there is always someone identified as the man (woman) in charge.
  • Ese cabrón es el mero mero
  • Ese güey es el mero mero
  • Esa chava es la mera mera
  • El mero chingón (or chinguetas)
  • El mero mero es el primero y los demás son culeros




Awesome, swell, nice, sweet, done,  fo'shizzy, yes, etc. 
  • Esta chida tu nave (your car rules)
  • Él es el chido (He's the man)
  • Estaría chido (that would be nice)
  • Chido men* (I agree dudder) 
*For some reason you call a buddy men, and not man. 


(lit. Slob)

At the very top of the stupidity chain (the czar of drooling incompetence) a baboso is someone who doesn't have enough personality to be a full-blown pendejo. 

The beauty of this self-explanatory insult resides on its unparalleled bashing power while remaining an all-audiences term unless dressed up with spicier words, usually:

"pinche baboso"*
*User discretion advised

It can also be mellowed for a more collegial use:

No seas babas! 

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Paro (PAR-aw, lit. stop) is a noun that means help, break or relief. Most frequently it is used in the expression hacer el paro which means to help out or to give a break, perhaps by bending the rules—otherwise the help wouldn’t be necessary. An oldschool synonym is balona (ba-LAW-nah, lit. female ball).

Estos tacos están re picosos, son un gran paro para la cruda => These tacos are spicy indeed, they're a great relief for the hangover
¡Hazte el paro y cambia tus hábitos alimenticios! => Give yourself a break and change your eating habits

Disambiguation Note: In Spain paro means unemployment or unemployment insurance benefits. On this side of Atlantic Ocean, being unemployed is never a relief.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Mochilas (maw-CHEE-lass, lit. school bags) is a highly popular expression to ask a buddy to share something good. It is often employed in reference to food but its use extends to most material belongings and even exceptionally attractive dates. It is a derivative of mochar, which means to split into two or more parts.

Mochilas shall not be said in a regular fashion or whispered but cried out loud, and preferably accompanied by a specific gesture: dragging one’s hand across the chest diagonally (as shown in the video below). This gesture symbolizes the splitting of something by some sort of knife: the chest represents what's being split and the arm represents the knife.

The popularity of that gesture has made equally relevant the alternative expression ponte la del Puebla (lit. wear the Puebla jersey). This is an allusion to Puebla’s (a city west of Mexico City) soccer team’s uniform, which exhibits a blue stripe diagonally across the chest (shown below).

The following video illustrates both forms: ¡mochilas! and ¡ponte la del Puebla! Notice the intonation. If you want to be discrete or cannot be loud, do the gesture alone. It's equally powerful.

Disambiguation Note: Mochilas is also used to mean mocho or mocha, which stands for someone who is very observant of Catholic principles and therefore not necessarily the most fun to hang out with.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


(pen -THE-ho)

While in some South American countries pendejo often means infant or childish, pendejo commands a much harsher significance in Mexico. While overcoming infancy is a matter of time, in Mexico chances are that a pendejo will remain pendejo. Yes, pendejo is both a noun and an adjective.
Some aproximate translations include: Ass, ass hole, tool, tool box, moron, imbecil, retard, idiot, dumb, dumass, stupid.

Following popular wisdom, pendejos need not go to pendejo school: "Pa' pendejo no se estudia." Similarly, while some pendejos may not look like pendejos, word is that a pendejo-face will consistently live up to his appearance.

  1. Eres un pendejo: You are an ass.
  2. No seas pendejo: Think again.
  3. No soy tu pendejo: I am not your bitch.
  4. Nomás la cara (de pendejo): You're actually pretty clever (not as dumb as you appear).
  5. Dices puras pendejadas: You're speaking pure nonsense Note: Everyone says pendejadas once in a while without necessarily being a pendejo, however there is a thin line.
  6. Pendejete: petty pendejo.
  7. Pinche pendejo: Fucking pendejo.
  8. Quita esa cara de pendejo: Don't act so sorprised.
  9. No te hagas pendejo: Stop pretending.
  10. No tiene un pelo de pendejo: Not an inch of pendejo.
  11. Estás pendejo: No fucking way.
  12. Pendejo con iniciativa. A pro active pendejo (the most dangerous kind).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


One of Chilangos' naughtiest passtimes are tallarines (tah-ja-DEE-ness, lit. noodles), which stands for rubbing one's body against the body of a women while pretending to be oblivious. Tallarines comes from tallar (lit. to rub), and it is used in the form dar tallarines (lit. to give noodles).

Unfortunately for women tallarines are not uncommon in public transportation and mass concentrations, such as concerts.

Travel advice: despite the fact that Chilangos hardly pass up an opportunity to dar tallarines, females are most emphatically encouraged to slap the agressor on the face and denounce him.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Hidalgo (ee-DAHL-gaw) is the act of drinking a cocktail, a shot of liquor, a beer or any alcoholic beverage until one's glass or bottle is completely empty. It is often used in plural as in vamos a echar hidalgos (let's have some hidalgos). It's a term minted by bureaucrats.

The last year of every presidential term in Mexico is regarded as the año de Hidalgo. The uncertainty of who will be in office next term creates a lawless situation that officials used to profit, appropriating government resources for themselves (from account balances to office furniture).

Hidalgo (in the image) fought for Mexico's independence leading the 1810 uprising, and he is regarded as the "Father of the Country." His name is associated to this despicable behavior only because it rhymes: es el año de Hidalgo, ¡pendejo el que deje algo!, which means "it's the year of Hidalgo, you gotta be a jerk to leave something!" Mexicans want to believe that the applicability of hidalgo is limited in these days to not leaving anything in one's glass.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


This word is a historic reference to Malinche, an indigenous woman who in the sixteenth century served as interpreter between the conquistador Hernán Cortez and the original peoples in Mexico. Malinche and Cortez became lovers, and from then on she has personified the bias against domestically produced goods and services—she preferred the imported man. Malinchista (mah-leen-CHEESE-tah) is a person whose behavior ressembles Malinche's.

Making public one’s preference for imported products over the domestic is seen by Mexicans as betrayal, yet in private everybody acknowledges the superiority of the former.

For Mexicans, to be called malinchista is offensive, but to be one is all right.


An achichincle (a-chee-CHEEN-kleh) is a sidekick, a servant or a member of an entourage. It is a derogatory term. If you are the achichincle of someone, that means you’re intellectually and emotionally dependent on that person.

To make it more effective, use it along with pinche, as in vino con su pinche achichincle, which means “he came with his stupid sidekick”. A less folkloric synonym is gato (GAH-taw, lit. cat).

Probably the best known achichincle in the Spanish-speaking world is Don Quixote's: Sancho Panza.

Friday, January 18, 2008

La Tira

As any other civilized people on earth, Mexicans-especially Chilangos-are not fond of authority. This aversion is captured in the way they refer to police officers: la tira (TEE-dah) to refer collectively to the police department, tira or tiras to refer to one or several officers of the law. The word comes from tiranía (lit. tyranny). Tiras usually travel in a trulla (TROO-jah), which is a contraction of patrulla (lit. squad car).

In the image above you can see two tiras in their charro uniform (sombrero and all) right next to a trulla. A synonym for tira when used collectively is chota (CHAW-tah), and a synomym for tira when referring to one officer is azul (a-ZOOL, lit. a blue one) because of their uniforms' traditional color.

Travel advice: when in trouble with the police in Mexico City, never offer any bribe. Wait for the tiras to ask first, and then haggle.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


There are several ways to say good bye in Spanish but only a few are appropriate on the streets of Mexico City. Here is a list by category.


  • Adiós: good bye
  • Hasta luego: So long
  • Hasta pronto: id.
Slangy yet neutral:

  • Baygón: from "bye" and the insecticide by Bayer
  • Baik: from "bye" and "bike"
  • Báilele: dance it, from "bye" and bailar
  • Ahí la vemos: we'll see each other there
  • Ahí te ves: you'll see yourself there

  • Te lo lavas: wash it (your butt)
  • Te lo laballenas porque te apescadito, id. but more folkloric (notice the inserts whale and little fish to give a poetic tone)

  • Hasta la vista-only native speakers can say it, with a Schwarzenegger accent
  • Vaya con Dios-only native speakers can way it, with a John Wayne accent

Keep it real and stick to Baygón

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


La tesorito (teh-saw-REE-taw, lit. little treasure) is the nickname of Laura León, a female actor and singer very popular in the 1980s among male masses of all ages. Her voluptuous body is used to this day as a reference to women ressembling Aztec goddesses of fertility. Other terms with the same connotation are: de a taxista (like taxi drivers like them) and de “libro vaquero” (out of a “cowboy book”, which is an old comic book with luscious drawings).

Usage note: there is no agreement if regarding someone as being a tesorito is derogatory or flattering. It depends on the taste of the interlocutor, which might be fickle.


The correct use of the word chaqueta (chah-KEH-tah) will probably earn you the respect of every chilango you run into. Though the literal meaning is jacket, literal meanings are rarely used in Mexico. Pay attention to the context to understand its proper use.

  1. Chaqueta: noun, the action of masturbating; verb, chaquetear (or hacerse una chaqueta), to jerk-off.
  2. Chaqueta mental: mind masturbation, a pipe dream.
  3. Chaquetero: a person who is a flip-flopper (oldschool), or who masturbates more than twice a day.
  4. Ser un chaquetas: to be a loser.
  5. Estar chaqueto: in reference to a person, to lack energy and stamina, just like after masturbating; in reference to things, to be dull.

Chaqueta can be substituted by puñeta (a reference to male masturbation by moving up and down a fist or puño) in cases 1, 2, 3 (except to mean flip-flopper) and 4. An infallible way to impress poetry-loving chilangos is reciting the anonymous poem:

Tú que eres poeta
y en el aire las compones
hazme una chaqueta
y lo que sobre te lo comes

(Though you should avoid saying it to people you care about.)

Monday, January 14, 2008


A person consumed by intense rancor or envy is referred to as ardilla (ar-DEE-ja, lit. squirrel). It is a derivation from ardido, ardida, which is the past participle of burn. It is an allusion to the fire-like sensation inside one's guts that such feelings produce.

Calling someone ardido is a candid way to express disapproval for hosting such mean sentiments. It is typically used in the phrase ¡No seas ardido! (don't be burned!) or ¡Ese güey es bien ardilla! (That dude is very rancorous!).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


People who can afford a sirvienta (lit. a maid) do not like referring to her as such. They prefer the annoyingly long euphemism la muchacha que nos ayuda (lit. the youngwoman who helps us), which is usually shortened to muchacha or, more frequently, to just chacha.

Some people use chacha to refer to questionable taste and manners. For instance, the sentence la novia de tu primo es una chacha (lit. your cousin's girlfriend is a maid) doesn't mean she actually makes a living cleaning other people's home but rather that she is a déclassé.

A very popular expression is se fue como las chachas (lit. he/she left like maids), which means the person left without any notice, which is rude.

Note: Do not confuse chacha with chacha music, which in Mexico is called cha-cha-chá and in Mars is called ri-ca-chá, according to the famous chacha tune.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Avión (ah-vee-ON, lit. airplane) is used in three fine expressions. When someone claims that se le fue el avión (lit. the airplane abandon him or her) about some other person, it means that such person either has symptoms of Adult Attention Disorder or that is mentally unstable. Dar el avión (lit. to give the airplane) to someone means to make that someone believe that one cares for and agrees with what that person is saying. Finally, when avión is used to refer to a woman, it means she is very attractive.

  1. Se me fue el avión a media junta => I got lost in my thoughts in the middle of the meeting

  2. A más de un mandatario en Sudamérica se la ha ido el avión después de unos años de poder => More than one head of state in South America has gone bananas after a few years in power

  3. El secreto para caerle bien a los jefes de tu chava es darles el avión => The secret to make a good impression with your girlfriend's folks is to pretend you listen carefully and agree with them

  4. La nueva esposa del diputado es un avión => The congressman's new wife is a hotty

Friday, January 4, 2008


Vaca (VA-kah, lit. cow) is a pool of cash contributions to pay for goods or services that are later enjoyed by the contributors and some shameless free-riders. Se armó la vaca (lit. the cow was assembled) is a common expression meaning that a vaca took place.

La vaca is a typical feature of poorly planned parties (of which you see a lot in Mexico City). Avoid looking cheap and contribute generously when you have a chance—the crowd will appreciate it. And if you are the host, avoid vacas at all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


"La Bamba" is a highly danceable folk song original from Veracruz (a city in the Gulf of Mexico) with picaresque lyrics. A rock version was popularized wordwide by Ritchie Valens in the late 1950s. In Mexico City you only hear ¡bamba! as an interjection to denote emphatic agreement. Its equivalent is something between a "done deal" and "fucking-A". It's harmless yet colorful.