Slang words can make conversations more engaging, and make it easier for you to experience the local culture in a more genuine way. People from Antioquia, Paisas, tend to use a wide variety of unique and interesting slang words in their everyday conversations.
Keeping up with them might be a bit tricky at times. If you want to step up your Spanish game in Medellín, here’s a list of 21 common paisa slang words that will help you to blend in and interact better with the locals.
Parcero, or just Parce for short, is one of the most commonly used slang words in Medellín. It is a casual way of referring to a friend. Flaunt your paisa vocabulary by using this word more often while engaging in an informal conversation with the locals.
Bacano is a positive remark, used to describe something really good and pleasant. Using this word would be like saying something is really cool/awesome/great.
3) ¡De una!
A very common way of affirming something. ¡De una! is basically used to express variations of the term “absolutely” – sounds good, alright, of course, go for it, yeah sure and so on. It also can refer to do something immediately, as opposed to waiting.
Colombians love partying and it comes as no surprise that they have their own slang word for partying. Rumbear translates to partying or going out. Thus, you might ask one of your friends, “Vas a rumbear esta noche?” When used to describe a person that likes to party a lot, it’s Rumbero for guys and Rumbera for girls. Be careful with how you use it, however, because when used reflexively (rumbearse) it refers to kissing.
The word pola means beer. And, it actually has a pretty interesting history. This word derives from a beer label, La Pola, which was named after Policarpa Salavarrieta, a prominent figure in the Colombian independence movement.
In other Spanish speaking countries, tinto may refer to red wine, but in Colombia, it is used to describe coffee. Tinto is the Colombian slang word for the inexpensive kind of coffee that is available from locals walking around with large canisters, and is almost always loaded with sugar.
7) Dar papaya
This popular Colombian phrase means being vulnerable and putting yourself in risky situations. Flashing your expensive phone and watch, jewelry, etc in public constitutes dar papaya. Moreover, the phrase “no dar papaya” is used to warn someone to be more careful, reduce the risk of getting robbed and avoid being taken advantage of.
8) ¡Qué nota!
You will hear Colombians using this phrase to describe something or someone really nice. It’s another way of saying “cool” and can be used in any pleasant situation. If your friend tells you some good news, you can respond with, “¡Que nota, parcero!”
9) ¿Qué más?
The phrase ¿Qué más? is a very commonly used greeting in Colombia. It is used to say “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” A great way to start a conversation with someone. Note that it is technically translated as ‘What else’ or ‘What more’, so you may hear it being used as a literal question as well. Still, it is most common as a conversation starter.
This word is used to refer to when you don’t have any money. If you’re invited to do something, but the finances are tight, you could say something like: “me gustaria, pero estoy pelado” or “no puedo ir porque estoy pelado”.
Finde means weekend. It is actually an abbreviation of the phrase “el fin de semana”. So you could ask one of your friends, “Que vas a hacer este finde, parce?”
Although this word literally means “patch”, in Medellín, it is normally used to describe a get together or a group of friends. Think of parche like the term ‘hang out’ in English. When used as a verb, the word is parchar.
So if you wanted to say that you had a little gathering last night, you could say “anoche, tuvimos un parche en el apto”. Alternatively, if you want to ask someone to hang out later, it would be “¿quieres parchar más tarde?”
The word pues is ubiquitous in Medellín. It is one of those words that can be used in basically any situation, and typically means ‘well’ or ‘okay’. It is much more common in Medellín than other parts of Colombia. While travelling, residents of Cartagena and Cali have immediately recognized that I live in Medellín due to the occasional scattering of the word pues in my speech.
14) ¿O Qué?
¿O Qué? means “or what?” This expression is typically used at the end of questions and is quite common in casual, everyday conversations.
You can probably already guess this slang is a sort of negative remark or an insult. Gonorrea is used to describe something unpleasant and unlikeable. It is considered a curse word, so use it cautiously.
Q’ hubo is simply a shortended version of the phrase “Qué hubo?”, which translates to ‘what was there?’. It can be used as an informal greeting, although I tend to mainly hear it from pet owners disciplining a barking dog or parents with misbehaving children.
This slang is used to describe money in Colombia. One luca is equal to 1000 pesos. So when you say “me das 2 lucas“, it means “give me 2000 pesos”. And if you’re dealing with higher monetary amounts, a thousand lucas (COP 1,000,000) is called a palo. So, for example, if that’s what you pay for a month’s rent here in the city, you could say “pago un palo mensual por mi habitación“.
Note that these are both palabras de la calle (very informal street slang), and if you are hanging out with higher class Colombians they will look sideways at you if you speak that way. However, most of the locals tend to think its quite funny when we adopt these types of slang words.
The word paila is normally used to describe an unpleasant situation. You use it when things don’t work out the way you hoped.
This slang word is used by Colombians to describe someone who has a terrible taste in things. It is the Colombian Spanish equivalent of ‘tacky’ in English.
Although guayabo literally means a guava tree, in Colombia, it means hangover. To communicate that you had a few too many bebidas the night before simply say tengo guayabo (‘I have a hangover’) or estoy enguayabado (‘I am hungover’).
21) ¡Que Chimba!
Another extremely common expression, this is generally used to refer to something good or great. However, depending on the context, it can be used to express displeasure as well. Although you will hear it used abundantly, it is still very informal and technically a groseria (swear word) so make sure to be comfortable with the people you use it around.
The title of this article is a bit misleading, because try as you might, you’ll never get rid of your gringo accent and truly sound like a local. But the terms in this article are used so frequently, that they are useful to know and listen for. Additionally, if you can work them into your conversations with the locals, you’ll be sure to make them laugh.
Have you heard these words around Medellin? Are there common local slang words that are missing from this list? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.