Unlocking the Vibe: Colombian Slang Decoded
Colombian slang enriches the Spanish language variations mosaic with its vibrancy and uniqueness.
Immersing yourself in Colombian slang not only expands your linguistic skills but also broadens your sight into the diverse culture and identity of this South American gem.
In this article, we will delve into Colombian slang and meanings, usage, variations, and a comprehensive guide to exploring the local flavor:
- Learn about a new facet of Spanish slang and build your vocabulary while getting a quick glimpse of everyday life
- Lean into the fascinating world of one of the most representative Latino countries
- Navigate and communicate more effectively with native Spanish speakers in Colombia
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Slang, also known as jerga or caló, is the informal language widely used in daily conversations among locals of a country.
These words and phrases have an uncertain expiration date as generations reflourish and people stop saying them or thinking they’re cool.
Many people consider slang inappropriate during polite conversations or formal letters and communication.
Interestingly enough, it’s also a set of characteristics of languages depending on region and socioeconomic levels. As you can see, Colombian slang—and any other one—reflects the country’s history, social dynamics, and regional influences.
Don’t forget to be mindful of cultural sensitivity!
Consider the audience, setting, level of formality, and context before using Colombian slang.
1. The Meaning of Chimba
¡Qué chimba! is an expression used to show excitement or amazement. It’s common throughout the whole country and is one of the most famous Colombian slang.
This shows us how positive and joyful locals are. Here are some examples so you can use it correctly:
¡Qué chimba de paisaje!
What an amazing landscape!
¡Qué chimba conocerte!
It was very nice to meet you!
¡Qué chimba que estuvo anoche!
How incredible was last night!
2. The Meaning of Parcero
This word from Colombian slang has become famous worldwide thanks to the extent of the nation’s TV and cinema productions.
It’s an endearing name to refer to a friend or someone close.
Parcero signifies a deep bond; you can use it as a synonym for brother or buddy.
Sometimes you will hear the short version parce instead. It comes from Portuguese parceiro, which means “equal,” or Spanish aparcero, meaning colleague or friend.
But also from Spanish aparcería, which is a contract of a land owner who entrusts property to exploit it to someone else as a business agreement.
This will later evolve into a friendship bond, transcending commercial interests.
This very famous Colombian slang came from Antioquia, a local planting region.
People in the Northern coasts don’t use it as much as in the rest of the country.
Parcero is most widely used in the Paisa slang. The Paisa region includes cities like Medellin and Antioquia.
Voy a salir con mis parceros hoy en la noche.
I’m going out with my buddies tonight.
¿Qué pasó, parce?
What’s up, brother?
Estoy lejos de casa, sin ningún parcero que me anime.
I am far from home with no friends to cheer me up.
Another crown jewel of Colombian sayings is the word chévere. It essentially means “cool.”
It’s a neologism that comes from a language known as Efik.
Nigerian immigrants first introduced it in Caribbean countries such as Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, and Colombia.
They had a significant influence on local arts and music. As a tradition, it transcended all the way to the 1940s with Rafael Ortiz’s Latin American hit conga Uno, dos y tres.
As this was a big song, the Colombian slang chévere transcended frontiers.
It eventually expired in places like Mexico, where it is considered old and out of circulation nowadays.
You can listen to it more commonly as part of the costeño (coastal) slang.
¡Qué paso más chévere!
What a cool move!
What a cool dance step!
El destino más chévere del Caribe.
The coolest destination in the Caribbean.
¡Qué chévere que pasaste por mí!
How cool of you to come to get me!
You can also use it in the superlative form cheverísimo:
¡Esta es una idea cheverísima!
That is a very cool idea!
Bacano is another Colombian slang for cool, enjoyable, good, or nice, but from the cachaco region, which covers the capital city of Bogotá.
Él es muy bacano.
He is very nice.
El concierto va a estar bacano.
The concert will be so cool.
Mañana tendremos una experiencia súper bacana.
Tomorrow we will have a very exciting experience.
Vaina is a Colombian slang used to substitute the word thing in informal contexts, although it literally means pod or sheath.
Colombia shares this saying with Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Perú, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela. But its meaning varies from country to country.
According to oral tradition, it was first introduced in Colombia in the 1740s and meant pretentious.
The term evolved into “thing” and resisted time-passing.
But for a long time, it belonged to the low-income neighborhoods who were considered bad Spanish speakers due to their poor diction.
Today it’s widely used and is a vital part of Colombian identity and cultural heritage.
¿Qué es esa vaina?
What is that thing?
Necesito esa vaina.
I need that thing.
Por favor ve por esa vaina.
Please go get that thing.
Tips for Using Colombian Slang Appropriately
When using Colombian slang, please consider the following:
Slang is informal by nature and more typically used in casual settings.
Be aware of the social context you’re in and your relationship with the people you’re speaking to.
Adapt your conversation to work environments or friends at a restaurant. In the first one, you should stick to standard Spanish.
While Colombian slang is widely used and embraced within the country, be mindful that there are exceptions to the rule.
Some words may have offensive connotations in different regions; and, of course, different countries, in case you’re traveling to more places.
People consider Colombian Spanish as one of the most beautiful variations and accents of Spanish.
This is due to the very melodic pronunciation locals naturally have.
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To further explore Colombian slang and practice your skills, consider these resources:
Learn More About Colombian Slang and Culture!
We hope you fell in love with Colombian slang and learn how it’s a cultural reflection of their vibrant society!
If you’re on a quest to find more kinds of slang and accents, and see what accommodates you better, here’s a little tip:
As you can see, the best way to truly learn Spanish is with the help of locals from any Spanish-speaking country.
Some places like Guatemala or Mexico have more neutrall language uses and sounds.
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