Cool Spanish Phrases
One of the aspects of language is that it’s a fluid and ever-changing method of communication. Slang words pop up every other week and old words start feeling obsolete as time goes by. Some words used to carry different meanings as well! For example, in the 1800s the word “dude” was used when referring to a well-dressed man, sometimes in a pejorative way, implying the dude’s lack of knowledge of the world outside the city. Today, as you may know, dude is a word used to refer to another person, in a fraternal way. Sometimes, new words emerge all together, like ‘yeet.’ The same thing happens in Spanish, and today I’ll be writing about some of the colloquial phrases young people in Latinoamérica use every day. Keep in mind that Latin America is quite big, and some of these words may not apply to every single country. One of the fun things about going to a new country is learning all the local words, so I encourage you to try and say these phrases to your friends, and ask them what they mean in their country.
It’s not uncommon for countries to have different meanings for the same words, and a word that’s normal in one country may mean something completely different in another! This is a source of misunderstanding even amongst Latinos, so don’t worry if you run into one of these in your travels, because you probably will. These misunderstandings usually end with laughter, so you have nothing to worry about. For this blog, I’ll avoid the words and phrases that can cause misunderstanding, so you won’t have to think about their possible meanings. Also, keep in mind these words will be definitely understood in México and Central America, but may not be used in other countries
The word onda literally translates to ‘wave’, but when used as slang, the accurate translation would be ‘vibe.’ Depending on how you use it you’ll be saying different things. This is one of the most commonly used cool phrases in Spanish!
This is how most young people greet each other, and it means ‘What’s up?.’ This phrase can be used to say hi to your friends or to ask about something.
- ¿Qué onda? Llevo ratos sin verte.
- ¿Sabes qué onda con Ricardo? Llegó tarde a clase ayer.
- What’s up? I haven’t seen you in a while.
- You know what’s up with Ricardo? He was late to class yesterday.
This phrase can be used to say thank you, to refer to someone you’re fond of.
- Mi amiga Samantha es buena onda.
- ¡Buena onda por traerme mi cuaderno ayer!
- Mi friend Samantha is so cool.
- Thank you for bringing me my notebook yesterday!
It can also be used as an interjection when you’re excited about something. ¡Qué buena onda!
Bueno y malo are opposites, so mala onda is the opposite of buena onda. You can use this to talk about someone you don’t like, or more commonly as a way to express disapproval of someone’s actions.
- Rosa no me quiso compartir su tarea, qué mala onda.
- El guardia mala onda no nos quiso dejar pasar por la puerta principal.
- Rosa didn’t want to share her homework with me, that’s a bummer.
- The uncool guard didn’t let us through the main door.
Tipo tranquilo translates to ‘something chill.’ This phrase is used amongst friends who want to get together for the weekend to kick back and take it easy. This phrase is infamous for its deceptive nature because a lot of wild parties usually start on the pretense of tipo tranquilo, so be careful!
Since I’ve lived and worked in a bilingual environment most of my life, Spanglish is something I’m quite familiar with. Just like English has adopted Spanish words like tacos and enchiladas, we have anglicized (adopting Ebglish terms into Spanish) some words of our own too!
Yep, we use the word cool. It has the exact same meaning too! If you want to say something is cool, all you have to say is ¡eso está cool! Keep in mind that it is not the only way to say that, and each country has different ways of saying ‘cool.’ Here are some examples of ways to say cool:
Did you notice a lot of these start with ‘ch?’ That’s because a lot of our slang words are derivatives of native languages from native civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans, for example.
It’s strange that a slang word from the ’80s made its way to Latin American slang, but it did! In Spanish, saying ‘fresh’ is the same as in saying ‘no worries.’ So saying Dale fresh means you should go ahead sin pena, without shame!
Órale is mainly a Mexican word, but Central America uses it too. It can be used to express agreement or to say goodbye.
- ¿Te traigo agua entonces? – Sí, gracias. – ¡Órale!
- ¡Órale! Que te vaya bien.
- I’ll bring you water, then? – Yes, please. – No worries!
- See ya! Have a nice one.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today, and always remember the best teachers are the ones you can directly talk to! Take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and go from good to great!
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