Presidents, priests, aristocrats, and even “average Joes” use colloquialisms every day. So what are they? Colloquialisms are a linguistic phenomenon that occur in every single nation and that are generally accepted by society at large, even if they are not typically “correct” language.


Mexico is no exception when it comes to these types of words, and the country is home to a huge array of expressions. Thus, in this article, we will explore the world of colloquialisms that are at the heart of Mexican society (also known as Mexicanismos).


To start, let’s look at a very clear example of a term that has evolved over many years: ñero, a shortened version of the word compañero. Ñero was first introduced on television and in the cinema by comedians many years ago. As time has gone on, the media has further relaxed the rules about language, thus allowing comedians to create and use additional new forms of mexicanismos that have been adopted by society. This has been especially true since the time when Vicente Fox was elected President.


As a result, terms such as qué onda wey, no chingues, and está chido can nowadays be heard on all kinds of TV shows. Certainly, if you have watched any Mexican TV, you have an idea of how often these expressions can be used.


Now, let’s look at another word: chido, meaning “very good,” “magnificent” or  “cool.” This term comes from the words chicho and chiro. It was used a lot in the 70’s, though it disappeared in the 80’s. However, it came back to stay in the 90’s.


There are also words that were once seen as bad words, but which have changed to become more endearing over time. One example of this is Nalga (butt), which has now evolved into a sweet nickname for a significant other.


  • Mi nalga me espera en casa para comer.
  • Mi nalga es la mejor mujer del mundo.


Keep in mind that these are words that are not used by a certain class of people, but by all Mexicans across the country. Thus, if a Spanish learner were to use these mexicanismos when travelling to Mexico, they would not sound rude at all. Instead, they would sound more like a native!


So let’s look at some more examples! Probably the most common mexicanismo is güey, normally written as wey on the internet. This word comes from the word buey (ox), which later evolved into güey, and finally into wey.


Another term, no manches, is a euphemism for no mames (which means “don’t talk about stupid stuff”). It also has other derivations such as no seas manchado (abusive).


As you can see, television introduced society to these terms, which have become embraced by the country as a whole. These words have gone from being said quietly amongst friends, to being used enthusiastically in schools, government buildings and in the streets.


So, to finish up, let’s look at a short list of fifteen common mexicanismos:


¿Qué hay?: Commonly used when greeting people in an informal way.




  • ¿Qué hay, Pedro?
  • ¡Hola, Juan! ¿Cómo estás?


Echar carrilla: To constantly bother someone.




  • Hoy todo el día me estuvieron echando carrilla en la oficina.  
  • No me gusta visitar a mis tios, siempre me están echando carrilla.


Ve a ver si ya puso la marrana: This is an expression that is used when someone (normally a child) is requesting to leave.




  • Pablito, por qué no vas a ver si ya puso la marrana y nos dejas a tu tío y a mí hacer negocios.


De a grapa: To be free.




  • Fui a la tienda y la tendera me dio este dulce de a grapa. Creo que está caducado, pero está sabroso.
  • Nada es de a grapa en esta vida.


Estar aguitado: To feel blue.




  • Cuando estés aguitado, recuerda que siempre podrás contar conmigo.
  • ¡Ya no estés aguitado! Vas a hacer que yo también me ponga triste.


Gacho: Ugly.




  • La situación con tus padres está muy gacha.
  • El novio de Susana está muy gacho.
  • ¡Qué gacho que tu novia te terminó!


Me agarraste en curva: To take by surprise.




  • Susana me agarró en curva cuando me dijo que ya no quería ser mi novia.


!Móchate¡: Share it!




  • ¡Mochate con la torta!


No te rajes: To keep your word.




  • No te rajes y ve a hablarle a Teresa. Dile que te gusta y que quieres que sea tu novia.
  • No seas miedoso, no te rajes ahora.


Ponte la del puebla: To share half of it.




  • Vi que compraste una pizza de peperoni para ti solo, mejor ponte la del puebla.
  • Ponte la del puebla con el dinero que te ganaste en la lotería.


Qué chafa: Used when something goes wrong or to express “bad quality” or “what a pity.”




  • Qué chafa está tu regalo de cumpleaños.
  • ¡Qué chafa! Nuestro equipo perdió la final.
  • ¡Qué chafa! Mi pareja de baile no vino a la fiesta.


Te crees muy acá ¿no?: This is typically said to an arrogant person who is showing off.




  • Te crees muy acá cuando hablas español en iTalki, ¿no?
  • Odio a Juan, se cree muy acá cuando vamos a patinar.


Andar a patín: This is typically said to someone who prefers walking to any other means of transportation.




  • Me gusta andar a patín.
  • María ha andado toda su vida a patín.


La neta: The truth.




  • La neta me gusta María. Quiero que sea mi novia.
  • ¡Dime la neta! ¿Te gusta mi hermana?


Quedarse de a seis: To be in shock.




  • Vi a el novio de Carla y me quedé de a seis. ¡Está guapísimo!
  • Me quedé de a seis cuando me dijo que era rico.


Image Sources


Hero Image by iivangm (CC BY 2.0)