In the spirit of Footprints' wonderful Israeli slang writeup, I shall take a few moments to mock my reader's presumed fluency in Spanish before commencing:
So you took a few classes in Spanish at Berlitz, and you've got the basics down. You've read Conjugating verbs in Spanish and Spanish pronunciation and you're reading for an Andean-style adventure with no access to potable drinking water. Perhaps you're stopping for a few days to admire the sights on your way to Machu Picchu, or someone tricked you into spending an extended period of time in Peru's lack of sunshine capital. Assuming that nothing was stolen from your bags, immigration didn't demand a bribe, and and your taxi doesn't get assaulted by schoolchildren on the way to your hotel, you'll probably do fine since most airport employees speak English. Then you'll ask someone on the street for directions and hear something like this:
Sing, choche! Grab the combi in the grifo and pay a china, if you don't have simple, make the huevón give you ripio. Do you Chinese that that leg? He's broccoli and he thinks I'm leather. He's got a yam for me, but he's way coca cola and just in cotton. He was just in Canada! Anyway, I'm going to eat a Sevillean, I've got a ton of Ambrossoli, there the glass, broaster!
Peruvian slang is diverse, ranging from the vulgar street talk of Limenian gangbangers to the polite euphemisms used by grandmothers of 27 in the mountains. A good portion of the words listed here are transformations or abbreviations of words in common usage, done everyday in a form similar to Cockney rhyming slang.What follows is an attempt to explain some of the most useful and common words in Peruvian Spanish. If you've got anything to add, don't hesitate to let me know!
Words in bold are in Spanish, followed by the phonetic pronunciation. In Italics is the literal translation and examples. For help on pronunciation, see Spanish pronunciation.
- -azo - AH-soh - Superlative. Ese pata tiene un carrazo. That guy has a huge car.
- achorado - ah-chore-AH-doe - Adjective describing a hardcore slum-dweller, possibly criminal. Refers to speech and behavior. Es bien achorado el pata, hace una semana mató a un sujeto por dos lucas. He's pretty hardcore, he killed a guy last week for two soles.
- agarrar - ah-garr-AR - grab - Kiss, especially the first time.
- agarre - ah-GARR-eh - Kiss, boyfriend (not serious). Va a ir a bailar con su agarre. She's going to go dancing with her boyfriend.
- aguirre - ah-GEERR-eh - proper name - Kiss. From "agarre".
- ahí los vidrios - AH-ee lows BID-ree-os - There the glass - A play on "Ahí nos vemos", "see you soon".
- algodón - all-go-DOAN - cotton - Estar en algodón is to be so-so. El nuevo equipo que me compré no es tan bueno, está en algodón. The new stereo I bought is not too great, it's just OK.
- Ambrossoli - ahm-bro-SOLE-ee - A brand of candy, and chocolate drinks - Play on "hambre", hunger.
- arrecho -a - ah-RREH-choe - in heat - A vulgar way of saying sexually excited, horny.
- azu - AH-soo - wow - Interjection. ¿Gana cinco mil dólares al mes? ¡Azu madre! He makes US$5000 a month? Holy crap!
- bacán - Ba-CAHN - Cool. ¡Esa nueva canción es bacán! That new song is cool!
- barrunto - ba-RRUN-toe - Similar to "achorado".
- bra - bra - Abbreviation of "brother".
- broaster - broaster - Play on "brother".
- broco - broe-coh - Derogatory term for homosexuals, a play on "cabro".
- brócoli - BROE-coh-lee - broccoli - Same as "broco".
- brother - BROE-der - Used to mean "friend". Oye brother, hace tiempo que no nos vemos. Hey man, we haven't seen each other in awhile.
- cabro - KAB-row - goat - Offensive term for a homosexual, equivalent to "faggot".
- cachimbo - kah-CHEEM-bow - Recently matriculated university student.
- cagar(se) - Kah-GAR-say - to shit (oneself) - Used in much of Latin America, used to vulgarly place extreme emphasis. 1) ¡Me estoy cagando de frío! I'm freezing my ass off! 2) Ese pata se caga de plata. That guy has a shitload of money.
- cagón - Kah-GOAN - shitter - A bothersome person (very vulgar). No dejaba de preguntarme cosas absurdas. ¡Qué cagon! He wouldn't stop asking me crazy stuff. What a pest!
- caiña - KAYN-yah - (also caña) - cane (as in sugar, bamboo) - Car. "Mi caña era una rana" (My car was like a frog) is a song by Pedro Suárez Vertiz. Mi caña se malogró el otro día. My ride broke down the other day.
- calato - Kah-LAT-o - Naked.
- camote - Kah-MOH-te - sweet potato, yam - Obsession, fixation, crush. Estoy seguro que Ale le tiene camote, la sigue por todas partes. I'm sure Ale's got a thing for her, he follows her everywhere.
- cana - KAH-nah - gray hair - Prison. Acaba de salir de la cana. He just got out of the joint last week.
- Canadá - Kah-nah-DA - Prison, play on "cana".
- cantar - Kahn-TAR - to sing - To speak. Usually used when answering the phone. ¡Canta, Alberto! Talk to me, Alberto!
- cau cau - Kow kow - a dish made of cow's stomach - Problem, hangup. ¿Oye, cuál es tu cau cau? Hey, what's your problem?
- celu - SELL-oo - Cellular/mobile telephone. Abbreviation of "celular"
- coco - KOE-koe - coconut - US dollar. El local era tan fichu que sólo podías pagar con cocos. The place was so upscale that you could only pay with dollars.
- coima - KOYM-ah - Bribe. Agarraron a ese congresista aceptando una coima otra vez They caught that Congressman accepting a bribeagain./
- combi - KOHME-bee - Vans used as public transport. The drivers are notoriously crazy. La combi ni se detuvo para la anciancia The bus didn't even brake for the old lady./
- concha - KOHN-chah - shell - Vulgar word for a woman's genitals, usually used with "your mother". Avanza, ¡concha de tu madre! Get the fuck out of the way!"
- costilla - coes-TEE-ya - rib - Girlfriend. Déjala en paz, es la costilla de mi hermano. Leave her alone, she's my brother's girl.
- cuero - KWER-oh - leather - Highly attractive person, usually a man. Está saliendo con un cuerazo The guy she's going out with is really hot.
- cumple - KOOM-play - Abbreviation of "cumpleaños", birthday.
- chamba - CHAM-bah - Work, job. Also used as "chambear", to work. Chamba es chamba, no te quejes. A job's a job, don't complain.
- chacra - CHAK-ra - small plot of land used for agriculture - El Ministro de Agricultura regresó a su chacra después de ser despedido. The Minister of Agriculture returned to his farm after being fired.
- chancha - CHAHN-chah - A bottle of beer, soda, or another drink shared among several people. Colabora un sol para la chanchita, voy comprar chela. Put in a sol for the chanchita, I'm going to buy beer/
- chancho - CHAHN-choh - pig - A burp. El bebé no dejaba de botar chancho. The baby wouldn't stop burping.
- chape - CHAH-pay - A kiss. In verb form, it also means "catch". Anoche, ¡Bruno chapó a su esposa chapando a otro hombre! Bruno caught his wife kissing another man last night!/
- charapa - Cha-RAH-pah - small turtle from the Amazon - Informal, sometimes derogatory term for Peruvians from the jungle.
- chaufa - CHOW-fah - Chinese fried rice - Used for fried rice and instead of "chau", goodbye.
- chaufis - CHOW-fees - Used instead of "chau".
- chela- CHELL-ah - Beer. Also used as a verb. Estuvimos cheleando toda la noche, por eso es que tengo resaca. We were drinking beer all night, that's why I've got a hangover./
- chévere - CHEH-ve-ray - Cool. Qué tal la película? ¡Chévere! How did you like the film? It was awesome!
- chibolero, -a - chee-bowl-AIR-oh - Someone who dates generally younger people. Esa chibolera no sale con ninguno que tengo más de treinta. That chibolera doesn't go out with anyone over thirty.
- chibolo, -a - chee-BOWL-oh - A young person, generally under 20.
- chicha - CHEE-chah - A drink made from corn - Adjective used for tabloids. Chaparon a Toledo chapando a una estrella de cine, y salió en todos los periódicos chichas. They caught Toledo kissing a movie star, and it came out in all the tabloids.
- chifa - CHEE-fa - A Chinese restaurant, usually with elements of Peruvian cuisine.
- china - CHEE-nah - China - A coin worth fifty céntimos. On short trips, combis will only charge half the regular price. Está a cinco cuadras, sólo paga una china. It's only five blocks away, don't pay more than 50 cents.
- chinear - Chee-nee-ar - To look, derived from the epicanthic folds of Chinese people. Me estaban chineando todo el tiempo que estaba en la tienda. They were watching me the whole time I was in the store.
- chino, -a - CHEE-noh - Chinese - A term used for any person of Asiatic descent, be they Japanese, Filipino, or Korean.
- choborra- Choh-BORR-ah - Drunk, play on "borracho".
- choche - CHOE-chay - Guy, usually used amiably. Oye choche, aquí está tu vuelto. Hey buddy, here's your change.
- choclo - CHOE-cloe - Corn.
- Choledo - CHOE-lay-doh - Nickname of President Alejandro Toledo, due to his indigenous heritage.
- cholo, -a - CHOE-loh - A person of brownish complexion of mixed indigenous/Spanish descent.
- chompa - CHOHM-pah - Jacket or sweater.
- chongo - CHONE-go Whorehouse.
- choro, -a - CHOR-oh - Thief. Todos los políticos son choros con ternos All politicians are just thieves in suits.
- chupar - chew-PAR - To drink alcohol, especially heavily. Estaba chupando bastante. He was drinking like a fish.
- churrasco - choo-RRAS-koh barbecued steak - A play on "churro", adding the word "asco", meaning "disgust". Are there any hot guys at the party? ChurrrrrrASCO!
- churro, -a, - CHOO-rroh - Mexican pastry - Highly attractive person, man or woman.
- de frejól - deh fray-HOLE - of bean - Straight ahead, a play on "de frente". Most often shouted by combistas.
- de fresa - deh FREY-sa of strawberry - Same as "de frejól".
- Dodge - dohch - Sounds like "dos", "two". Used in the phrase Voy en dodge (patas) I'm going on two (legs). Like in a car. But you don't have a car. Get it?
- en bola - en BOWL-ah - in a ball - Pregnant.
- en boli - en BOWL-ee - Pregnant, a play on "en bola".
- en Bolívia - en bowl-EE-vee-ah - Pregnant, a play on "en bola".
- fichu - FEE-choo - thin - Upscale, used for items such as restaurants or hotels, and generally in conjunction with "pituco".
- flaco, -a - FLAH-coe - thin - Informal term for a man or woman, of average or less-than-average weight.
- fumón - foom-OWN - Pothead, from "fumar", "to smoke". Es bien fumón, lo vi fumar en su propio matrimonio. He's a real pothead, I saw him smoking during his own wedding.
- gaseosa - gahs-ee-OH-sa - Soft drink. Used in the phrase "darle para su gaseosa", "to give someone (money) for a soft drink", a euphemism for bribery. El policía me dijo que tenía sed, y no me dejaría ir hasta que le diera para su gaseosa. The policeman told me he was thirsty, and wouldn't let me go unless I gave him money for a soda.
- gil, -a - heel - A boyfriend/girlfriend, usually used for kids. Also used in verb form to mean "flirt". /Ese chicho estuvo gileando a todos las chicas anoche. That kid was flirting with all the girls last night.
- grifo - GREE-foh - Gas station.
- hembra - EM-brah - female (animal) - Used in a sexist way to refer to one's girlfriend. Esa chica es mi hembra, ni te acerques. That's my girl, don't even get near her.
- hincha - EEN-chah - swollen (as if with pride) - A devout fan of a football team. Él es hincha de la U, va a todos sus partidos. He's a big fan of the U, he goes to all their games.
- huachafo - wa-CHA-foh - Tacky, repulsive. Usually applied to clothes or behaviors. Llevó a su sopa en botella a la playa. ¡Qué huachafo! He took his soup in a bottle to the beach. That guy's poor trash.
- huachimán - wa-chee-MAN - watchman - From the English word, used for private security guards. El huachimán vigila esta cuadra y la del lado. The security guard watches this block and the one next to it.
- huevear - wave-ee-AR - To screw with someone, also to mess around. Used famously by former president Alan García referring to a call made to him by then-President Alejandro Toledo. Me estuvo hueveando He was just screwing around with me.
- huayco - WHY-coe - Mudslide.
- huevo - WAY-voe - A lot. Also, testicles. Me compré un huevo de huevos I bought a ton of eggs.
- huevón - way-VOHN - Asshole. Quería entrar, pero ese huevón no me dejaba. I wanted to go inside, but that asshole wouldn't let me.
- jale - HAL-eh - Boyfriend, used like "agarre".
- jama - HAHM-ah - Food.
- jamear - hahm-ee-AR - To eat.
- jato - HA-toe - One's home. Also, asleep. 1) Vamos a mi jato, tengo sueño. Let's go back to my pad, I'm tired. 2) Traté de despertarlo, pero estaba jato. I tried to wake him, but he was fast asleep.
- jeringa - heir-EEN-gah - syringe - A play on "jerga", slang.
- jinete - hee-NET-tay - jockey, horse rider - Boyfriend, used in the same way as "monta".
- lorna - LORN-ah - Stupid/annoying. Se tropezó cuando fue a recoger su diploma. ¡Qué lorna! She tripped walking to receive her diploma. What a dork!
- luca - LOO-cah - One Peruvian Nuevo Sol. El pasaje es una luca. The fare is one sol./
- maestro - my-ES-troh - teacher - Used in the same way as "profi".
- maldito - mal-DEE-toe - damned - Cool. ¡Ese vestido te queda maldito! That dress looks great!
- mariachi - mar-ee-AH-chee - Play on "marido", husband.
- matri - MAH-tree - Abbreviation of "matrimonio", wedding.
- michi - MEE-chee - Euphemism for "mierda", "shit".
- micro - MEE-crow - A large bus.
- misio - MEE-see-oh - Poor, broke. Quería ir al cine, pero no tengo trabajo y estoy misio. I wanted to go to the movies, but I'm out of work and I'm broke.
- mongo - MOHN-goh - Idiot, from "mongoloide".
- monse - MOHN-say - Stupid, brutish. Used often for slow drivers (caiña monse)
- monta - MOHN-tah - rider - Male significant other, from the action of riding a horse. Creo que ese pata es su monta, los he visto salir varias veces. I think that guy's her boyfriend, I've seen them go out a couple of times.
- montoya - mohn-TOY-ah - Play on "monta".
- moreno - more-EY-noh - brown (skin color) - Used for the Afro-Peruvian population.
- mosca - MOWS-cah - fly - "Estar mosca" is to be on the alert. Estáte mosca, no sé donde bajar. Be alert, I don't know where we have to get off.
- mostro - MOWS-tro - Cool. El tono de anoche fue mostro! The party last night was really cool!
- movido - mow-VEE-do - moved - With a lot of activity, especially criminal activity.
- pata - PAH-tah - leg (of an animal) - Guy. Informal, used for just about anyone. If someone is "tu pata", he or she is your friend. La conocí ayer y nos hicimos patas al toque. I met her yesterday and we became friends right away.
- perucho - per-OOH-choe - Diminuitive for a Peruvian. Me gusta ver a los peruchos que estudian y trabjan en el extranjero, luchando por un futuro mejor. I like to see Peruvians studying and working overseas, struggling for a better future.
- pichanga - pee-CHAN-gah - An informal game of football (soccer). Hicimos una pichanguita el otro día con Carlos, ese tipo es un buen futbolista. We played a friendly match with Carlos the other day, that guy is a good soccer player.
- pichi - PEE-chee - Urine. Used in the same way as "pila".
- pila - PEE-lah - Urine. Also used in the phrase "hacer pila", "to pee".
- pitri mitri - PEE-tree MEE-tree - Euphemism for "puta madre".
- pituco - pee-TOO-coh - A snob or wealthy person, generally used in a derogatory manner. - Queríamos hacernos socios de ese club, pero sólo admiten pitucos. We wanted to join that club, but they only take rich folk.
- planchado - plahn-CHA-doe - ironed - Full, used for combis, and generally only by combistas.
- por las puras - poor las POO-ras - For nothing. Hicimos todo el trajín por las puras, estaba cerrado cuando llegamos. We went all that way for nothing, the place was closed when we got there.
- porfa - POOR-fah - Abbreviation of "por favor", "please".
- porfis - POOR-fees - Play on "por favor", "please".
- profi - PROH-fee - Abbreviation of "profesor", "professor" or "teacher". Used as a friendly nickname, generally for well-dressed older people, especially with glasses.
- pucha - POO-chah - Euphemism for "puta".
- pucho - POO-choe - Cigarette.
- puta madre - POO-tah MAD-ray - whore mother - An all-purpose swear word, usually affixed to the end of sentences and pronounced "'ta madre". Dame mi plata, ta madre! Give me my money, God damn it!
- Quaker - KWAH-kair - Heavy and thick, like the oatmeal. Ese tipo me cae Quaker I find that guy really annoying.
- reu - RAY-ooh - Short for "reunión", party.
- Ricardo Montaner - ree-CAR-doh mohn-TAN-air - Play on "monta", after the singer.
- ripio - REE-pee-oh - Change, small denominations of coins. Me dieron un montón de ripio de vuelto en el restaurante. They gave me a lot of coins as change in the restaurant.
- roche - ROW-chay - Shame. Also used as "rochoso", shameful. Quería pedir más comida, pero ellos pagaban, me daba roche. I wanted to order more food, but since they were paying, I was embarrased about it.
- seño - SAY-nyo - Short form of "señora" (Mrs.).
- serrano - serr-AHN-oh - from the sierra, mountain region - Highly offensive term used for brownish people from the mountains. Never ever ever use this word, and if you hear it used, duck and cover.
- sevillano - seh-vee-YAN-oh - from Seville, Spain - Play on the word "ceviche", a national dish.
- suzuki - soo-ZOO-kee - Dirty, play on "sucio".
- taba - TAH-bah - Shoes, usually informal. Saca tus tabas del pasto, ¡pé! Hey, get your shoes off the grass!
- taxear - tahks-ee-AR - Also "hacer taxi". Since taxis do not have to be registered in Lima, anyone can put a "taxi" sign on their car and pick up passengers for money. When people need a little extra cash, they use their car as a taxi cab after work. Hice taxi todo el fin de semana para pagar mi deuda. I picked up passengers all weekend to pay off my debt.
- terruco - terr-OOH-coe - Terrorist.
- tolaca - toe-LAH-cah - Naked, play on "calato".
- tombo - TOME-boh - Policeman.
- tonero - toe-NAIR-oh - Pertaining to a special occasion. Ay, ¿no me digas que arruinaron tu vestido tonero? Oh no, don't tell me that they ruined your favorite dress?
- tono - TOE-noh - tone - Partying, usually used for discos and wild parties. ¿Qué tal el tono ayer? ¿Se diviertieron? How was the partying last night? Did you have fun?
- toque - TOE-kay - touch - "Al toque" means "right away". Pagamos la cuenta y nos fuimos al toque. We paid the bill and left right away.
- tranqui - TRAHN-kee - Abbreviation of "tranquilo". ¿Qué tal tu vida? Nada, tranqui. How's life? Everything's normal.
- tripsazo - treep-SAH-soe - huge or amazing trip - A "tripsazo" consists in driving with a couple of friends to a beach a hundred kilometers from Lima, dancing until 8AM at a disco, and driving back.
- vacilar - vah-see-LAR - To have fun. Vacilamos toda la noche. We partied all night.
- vacilón - vah-see-LOAN - A lot of fun, very funny. La policía se equivocó de placa. Fue todo un vacilón. The police got the license plate number wrong. It was hilarious.