Monday, November 30, 2009


Our panel of experts loves this expression because of its musicality: billuyo (bee-JOO-jaw). This word is a derivation of billete (bee-JET-teh) which literally means "bill," as in a "one-dollar bill." Billuyo is used to refer both to a sum of money or to the net worth of a person or dynasty.

Example 1:

Poncho: ¿Traes billuyo? Mochilas para la vaca.
Pancho: La neta nel.

Poncho: Do you have any green backs on you? Chip in.
Pancho: Truth is I do not.

Example 2:

Melchor: Ssss... culta, refinada y de buen gusto.
Gaspar: Se nota que viene de familia de billuyo.
Baltazar: Nel. Si iba a la secu con nosotros. Le decíamos la foca... por bigotona y resbalosa.

Melchor: Pssss... cultured, refined and with with good taste.
Gaspar: You can tell she comes from money.
Baltazar: Nope. She went to our junior high. We nick-named her the seal... because she had whisk and was slippery.

A fake billete with the image of the controversial politician Andres Manuel López Obrador.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chocolate y de chocolate

Mexico gave chocolate (chaw-coh-LATTE) to the world. And Mexicans also minted a handful of expressions with this very same word.

First, chocolate is used as an adjective to refer to something that is chueco (lit. crooked, not straight). Second, when used as a noun in the context of vehicles, chocolate means a used car or (most likely) conversion van illegally imported from the U.S. Third, in the context of baseball, chocolate stands for a strikeout. Fourth, when used in the expression de chocolate it means "as fake as a chocolate gun or a chocolate cigarrette", i.e. useless.

Example 1:

Don Ramón: No te pongas necio que nos van a sacar los de seguridad.
Kiko: Esos güeyes son de chocolate.

Don Ramón: Don't get so stubborn or we'll be kicked out by the security guards.
Kiko: Those guys are nothing but clowns.

Example 2:

Señito: ¿A poco si es usted médico?
Merolico: El título es chocolate. Pero igual toda consulta causa honorarios, señito. Acérquese.

Ma'am: Are you an M.D. for real?
Charlatan: That title is as fake as a 3 dollar bill. But fees will apply to any consultation, ma'am. Step over.

Check out the video of a merolico (charlatan) in Mexico City's Alameda Park talking about home-made remedies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Por si las moscas, las flais

Using this expression will make you sound on top of your Chilango slang. Por si las moscas (purr-see-lass-MAWS-kass) is an expression that everybody uses. Though informal, this expression is not insulting in any way. It literally means "in case the flies ..." and it is used as "just in case."

Some people substitute moscas for flais, the Spanish pronunciation of "flies." Some others use las de hule (lit. the ones made of rubber) in lieu of moscas, an allusion to fake, rubber flies.


Rubén: ¿Quién trajo el Turista a mi fiesta?
Joselo: Yo, por si las moscas. No sabía si iba a estar tan pinche como la del año pasado.

Rubén: Who brought Monopoly to my party?
Joselo: Me, just in case. I didn't know if it was gonna be as lame as last year's.

Turista Internacional (international tourist) is the Mexican equivalent of Monopoly

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Erizo (eh-REE-soh) literally means sea urchin. It is used in the expression andar erizo, i.e. "to go by like a sea urchin." It is used in reference to two situations. First, andar erizo is used to denote withdrawal syndrome or cold turkey. Second, andar erizo means to have no money whatsoever. An old school equivalent for andar erizo's second meaning is andar bruja ("to go by like a witch").

Example 1:

Carla: Vi a tu marido el otro día en la calle. Andaba bien erizo.
Patricia: Por quinta y última vez, ¡Rigoberto ya no es mi marido!

Carla: I saw your husband on the street the other day, suffering cold turkey.
Patricia: This is the fifth and last time that I say it: Rigoberto is no longer my husband!

Example 2:

Fidel: Saca para una caguama.
Ernesto: Ando super erizo, compañero.

Fidel: Gimme some change for a six pack.
Ernesto: I'm broke, buddy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Batear literally means "to bat". In Mexico City it is used to mean "to reject with utmost emphasis." Picture the person you're asking something from as a slugger at bat: your demands or suggestions can be sent out of the ballpark in a violent fashion with a big swing. The use of batear is usually accompanied by the gesture of batting a baseball to the centerfield and contemplating it as it goes beyond the fence.

Dar bat (lit. give bat) can be used in lieu of batear.

Example 1:

Hernán: ¿Te van a dar vaciones en semana santa?
Cuauhtémoc: Le dije a mi patrón pero me bateó horriblemente.

Hernán: Are you gonna have a spring break?
Cuauhtémoc: I asked my boss but he sent me back in a horrible way.

Example 2:

Mamá: Con las mujeres debe ser persistente, mijo. A tu papi lo bateé varias veces, pero siguió insistiendo, y al final le dí lo que quería.
Hijo: ¿Podemos cambiar de tema?

Mother: With women you have to persevere, my son. I rejected your daddy over and over, but he persevered and in the end I gave him what he wanted.
Son: Can we change the subject?

Vinicio Castilla is a famous Mexican slugger.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Mocos (MAW-koss) literally means snots, mucus from the nose. It is used as an interjection on its own right. The use of ¡mocos! is similar to that of the English words ka-boom and bang. It denotes a sudden and violent action taking place: a punch in the face, a car crash, the sudden revelation of a painful truth.

¡Mocos! always has to be said in a dramatic way, conveying the sudennes and violence of the fact represented. ¡Mocos! is an informal but harmless expression.

Example 1:

Marcela: Después de 17 años de casados, le confesó que antes de conocerla estuvo en el tambo por malversación de fondos.
Gabriela: ¡Mocos! ¿Y qué más?

Marcela: After 17 years of marriage, he confessed to her that he was in jail before knowing her for a fraud.

Gabriela: Ka-boom! And... what happened?

Example 2:

Conductor: Estaba espejeando para cambiar carril, y de repente ... ¡mocos! Se me estampó un maestrín.
Ajustador: Por favor sea más específico. No puedo incluir "¡mocos!" en mi reporte.

Driver: I was looking at the rear-view mirror to change lanes and all of a sudden ... crash! A dude hit me.
Insurance agent: Please be more specific. I cannnot write that in my report.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Maestro, maestrín, maese, master

Maestro literally means teacher. However, in Mexico City maestro or maestra is often used to refer to any random person, regardless of her occupation or educational background. Some dervatives of the word maestro are: maestrín (something like "little teacher"), maese, and master (from English language).

Maestro and maestrín are not insulting but are impersonal. Do not call your friends maestro or maestrín. Use it to refer to people you do not know. However, calling your friends maese or master is perfectly fine.


Lalo: ¡Master! ¿Cómo va la venta de buñuelos?
Pepe: Bien, excepto por un maestrín que vino a quejarse, que'sque se empachó.

Lalo: Dude! How's the sales of fritters going?
Pepe: It's going well, except for a dude that came back to complain, allegedly he got tummy ache.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This expression is a pillar of Chilango slang. The origin of ñero (GNE-roh) is the word compañero, which means companion, mate, somebody in your same circumstance. Ñero was first used as a short version of compañero. Later on, ñero became a reference to the people that used that expression: mostly uneducated urban youngsters. Finally, since those ñeros are tough and bold, ñero became an adjective to convey those characteristics. If something is said to be ñero, that means it is tough or harsh.


Paramédico: ¿Qué tal estuvo el concierto?
Matías: Se puso super ñero el slam.

Paramedic: How was the concert?
Matías: The mosh pit got really harsh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

De tocho (morocho)

De tocho (the-TAW-choh) is an expression used in lieu of de todo, which literally means "of everything." It's usually followed by morocho just because it rhymes-that's a good enough reason for Chilangos.

Example 1:

Paco: ¿Tocaron cumbia?
Lalo: A-ha.
Paco: ¿Salsa?
Lalo: A huevo.
Paco: ¿Mambo? ¿merengue? ¿guaguancó? ¿huaracha? ¿reggaeton?
Lalo: Tocaron de tocho morocho.

Paco: ¿Did they play cumbia?
Lalo: Uh-hum.
Paco: ¿Salsa?
Lalo: Mos def.
Paco: ¿Mambo? ¿merengue? ¿guaguancó? ¿huaracha? ¿reggaeton?
Lalo: They played a little of everything.

Example 2:

Tortero: ¿Qué le ponemos a su torta joven? Mayonesa, mostaza, ...
Cliente: De tocho, si es tan amable.

Cook at a torta stand: What do you want on your sandwich? Mayo, mustard, ...
Patron: Everything, if you're so kind.

Torta is the Chilango version of a sandwich, made with telera bread.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The word grueso (groo-ES-so) literally means thick. It is used to refer to something outrageous or harsh, usually in the expression ¡qué grueso! (how thick!).

Felipe: Unos "emos" bloquearon Insurgentes por varias horas.
Leticia: ¡Qué grueso! ¿Qué querían?
Felipe: Respeto. Que no manchen su alma, ¿no?

Felipe: A bunch of "emos" blocked Insurgentes avenue for a few hours.
Leticia: That's outrageous! What were they demanding?
Felipe: Respect. That's kinda cheesy, ain't it?