Top 20 Best Expressions in Spanish Slang to Make You Sound Cool
¡Qué cool te ves! (You look so cool!) How many Spanish slang words and expressions do you know that mean “cool” in Spanish?
There are so many!
I’m here to give you the coolest Spanish slang words on the planet and make sure you know where you’ll hear them used most often.
In your quest to speak fluent Spanish, you want to sound fluent and cool when you speak it. That’s why Spanish slang is so important—if someone yells out ¡Qué padre! you don’t want to be stuck wondering, “Who’s dad?”
Knowing Spanish slang improves your communication skills and your comprehension, but even better: It makes you cool! Sounding natural in Spanish is a marvelous (and totally possible) accomplishment. It simply requires awareness and practice.
You also want to keep in mind that because Spanish is spoken all over the world, you will come across a staggering variety of dialects and—yep—slang.
What’s the difference between bárbaro and chido and in which countries do you use these Spanish slang words? Read on to find out.
Cool Spanish Slang in Central America
1. Buena onda
Say this phrase when someone’s done you a favor or has said something you approve of. It’s similar to saying “cool, thanks” or “nice!” in English. It’s also an adjective you can use to tell someone else that you think they’re cool:
Eres bien buena onda.
You’re really cool.
2. ¡Qué cool!
As a Guatemalan, I had to include this Spanglish phrase because I’ve used it and I’ve heard many others in Central America use it. It means “how cool!” and it’s a direct result of the United States’ linguistic influence on more modern Spanish slang.
3. ¡Qué fresa!
While the word fresa literally means “strawberry,” it’s also a Spanish slang term in Mexico and Central America that describes someone who is stuck up, a snob, or posh. It’s not necessarily a compliment for a person, but it can refer to a fashionable element of something: la gente fresa (the in-crowd). It’s also used to joke around which people in Latin America love to do.
Que presumida esa chica. ¡Es una fresa!
That girl is so conceited. She’s a snob!
4. ¡Qué leche!
Leche means milk but since we’re talking slang here, this phrase means “what luck!” Other possible translations include, “thank God!” “It’s a good thing,” and “we really lucked out.” It’s useful in situations where a person or group has lucked out:
Qué leche que traje dinero en efectivo
Thank God I brought cash.
5. ¿Qué onda?
This phrase means “what’s up?” and it’s common in Mexico and other parts of Central America. It’s literal translation means “what‘s waving?” but its meaning is closer to”how’s your vibe?” It’s a positive way to say hello to someone you know.
People in Central America use this one a lot to say that something is really cool. It’s derived from the word chile, meaning “peppers,” and when you say that something is chilero you’re saying that you think it’s awesome. It’s common in Guatemala where you sound like a cool native speaker when you use it!
¡Qué chilero tu pelo!
Your hair looks so cool!
This phrase is much more common in Guatemala than other Central American countries, but you could hear it anywhere in Central America and be understood. It means “exactly!” as you nod in agreement with someone else.
8. Pura vida
This Costa Rican phrase meaning “cool” literally translates to “pure life.” It’s meaning is much deeper than the other Spanish slang words on our list as it denotes a powerful sense of feeling alive. You use it to express that you’re enjoying life or hoping that others are. Ultimately, it’s a reminder to live life fully and to be optimistic despite unfortunate circumstances.
Can’t get enough? Check out 35+ Spanish Slang Words Used in Central America
Killer Spanish Slang in Mexico
Slang in Central America and Mexico is similar but there are some Spanish slang expressions that you’ll only hear in Mexico. (Didn’t know that Mexico wasn’t part of Central America? Learn more here.) Here are some of the coolest Spanish slang words from this colorful region.
One of the coolest slang words used in Mexico, órale has several meanings but most commonly expresses approval and encouragement (similar to English: “yeah!” “for sure,” and “OK.”) According to Wikipedia, this word is a shortening of ahora, which then adds the expletive -le at the end. It’s a positive Spanish slang word that you say with great enthusiasm!
This everyday Mexican Spanish slang word to say “cool” can refer to anything. It can be an awesome experience, fantastic food, or a cool person. It’s an expressive phrase that I’ve heard in Mexico many times in sentences. For example:
It was awesome
No sé por qué ese güey se cree tan chido.
I don’t know why that guy thinks he’s so cool.
You already know that padre means “father” in Spanish, but it also means “cool.” You can use it as an exclamation ¡Qué padre! to mean “How cool is that!” or use it as an adjective: Está padre tu moto (Your motorcycle is cool). What’s more, it can be a reaction to something astonishing, as in
¡Qué padre la pasamos anoche!
Wow, what a great time we had last night!
12. No manches
This Spanish slang translates to such colorful expressions as “no way!” “are you kidding?” and “come on!” Use it when someone says or does something you weren’t expecting, like ¡No manches! ¿Otra vez llegaste tarde? (Come on! You’re late again?) or ¡No manches! ¿En serio? (No way! Are you serious?) It’s an expressive Mexican Spanish slang that locals use all the time.
Awesome Spanish Slang in South America
While the original translation of this word means “cruel” or “barbarian,” it’s slang usage means “amazing,” “cool,” and “fantastic.” Use it in an exclamation ¡Qué bárbaro! to mean “Awesome!” or use it as an adjective, as in Jorge es un tipo bárbaro (Jorge is a fantastic guy). Additionally, you can spice up your adverbs with this Spanish slang and make awesome compliments, such as Ese vestido rojo te queda bárbaro (That red dress looks incredible on you). If you integrate this word into your speech in South America, you’ll sound just like a native speaker!
14. Parar bola
The phrase parar bola literally translates as “to stop ball” and you’ll hear it all over Colombia—but it actually means “to pay attention.” This can be used in the affirmative or negative form, depending on the situation.
Pay attention to me!
As an adjective, this Spanish slang word means “ extremely cool.” You can also use it as an interjection to mean “cool.” You hear it in Peru, Cuba, and Colombia. Its meaning varies in other countries but it’s a pleasant way to express yourself by saying ¡bacán!
Conseguí boletos para el concierto. ¡Bacán!
I got tickets for the concert. Awesome!
In Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, you’ll hear this phrase used to say something is “excellent,” “great,” or “really cool.” I must admit I really like this one because it turns something great into something greater.
It’s an expressive way to say you love something: ¡Que buenazo! Use this word as an adjective and it means “good-natured,” or as a noun and it means “a good-natured person.” Additionally, in an even more colloquial way, it means “ace” in Mexico.
Martín es buenazo y muy amable.
Martín is good-natured and very nice
Top-Notch Spanish Slang in Spain
Saying vale while in Spain is another way of saying “yes” or “OK.” In question form, it means “is that ok?” or “do you agree?” Similar to the conversation you’d have in English, it could go like this in Spanish:
Nos vamos al aeropuerto mañana, ¿vale? – We’re leaving for the airport tomorrow, OK?
Vale. – OK.
18. Tío or tía
When people in Spain use this Spanish slang word, they’re not referring to their relatives! While the words literally translate to “uncle” and “aunt,” their slang translation is closer to “guy,” “dude,” or “man.” Or “girl,” “girlfriend,” and “gal.”
It can be a term of endearment: ¡Te ves muy bien, tía! (You look great, girl!) or a generic reference to an unknown person: Hay un tío en la puerta pidiendo dinero (There’s some guy at the door asking for money). By adding tío or tía to the end of any exclamation, you’ll fit right in like a Spaniard!
19. ¡Qué guay!
¡Qué guay! Means how cool! In Spanish. It is usually used in a positive way and young people use it a lot when they want to show how much they really like something. Venga, ¡vamos! Todo estará bien.
Me encantan tus nuevos zapatos.¡Qué guay!
I love your new shoes. How cool!
20. Maja and majo
Maja or majo is used similarly to guay. It’s an adjective and is used to compliment each other. This one you hear in Spain. It means to say that you like what someone is wearing or looks like.
Que maja te ves con esa ropa
You look so cool with those clothes.
Now You’re Cool in Two Languages
You know how to sound cool and use plenty of Spanish slang to fit in, but do you have anyone to practice with? If you’d like to try out your new slang arsenal, sign up for a free class with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy where certified native Spanish-speaking teachers will practice live, 1-on-1 with you!
Do you know any other Spanish slang words that make you sound cool? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going!
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