Colombian Slang | Gringo’s Guide To Parcero Spanish

Looking for a little primer on Colombian slang before arriving in the promised land? Well…

Qué mas pues?

If you want to speak like a Parcero but don’t know where to begin, you’re in the right place.

In this detailed guide, I’ll cover up everything you need to know about Colombian slang and more.

I struggled with Spanish for years! I traveled around many Latin American countries enjoying the friendly locals, wild adventures, stunning beaches and more — but I couldn’t speak Spanish.

Then I learned a thing, or three, about properly speaking Spanish and my travels improved drastically. It’s why I recommend every gringo learn a little Spanish before they arrive.

And once I knew how to speak the love language, it was only natural to learn a little jerga while in Colombia. Aka a little Colombian slang.

But enough of my fluff, let’s dig into the bandeja paisa of this guide here. How to speak some slang Spanish like a true Parcero.

Así que vamonos!


Colombian Slang


What Makes Colombia Slang Different?

Here’s the thing…

Every country in Latin America has their own slang and way of talking. Colombians are no different. There’s local slang, or jerga, found in every city in the country.

But what makes Colombian slang different?

For me, it’s the accent.

Colombians speak a very neutral Spanish. One that many gringos find easy to understand. This is especially true in Bogota and the Coffee Zone.

Colombian accents in Cali and Medellin are not bad at all, either. Although some gringos do complain about the Paisa accent every now and then. It’s generally considered decent for Latin America.

But, the coast of Colombia is a whole different ball-game.

If you can understand costeño espanol, then you’re damn near fluent in the love language. Because on the coast of Colombia, they talk fast. On the coast, they use a whole hell of a lot of slang and many words get shortened or chopped up.

Thus, I have a few recommendations before diving head first into the world of Colombia slang and jerga. First, learn some Spanish before you try to incorporate slang words.

The best places to learn Spanish in Colombia are Bogota and then Medellin.


Colombia Calles


Top 15 Colombian Slang Terms and Phrases

After spending well over a year in Colombia, I was able to pick up on some slang in the country. Slowly, but surely this gringo learned a bit of jerga.

So without further ado, here’s the most common Colombian slang terms:

  • Qué Más?

This is probably one of the most used Slangs in Colombia.

At first, you may think it means “What else?”, but it actually means “What’s up?” or “How is it going?”.

This Slang is often used when meeting someone. It means the same as if you were to say “Hola, cómo estás?”, but far less informal.

How to use ‘Qué más‘ in a sentence:

Qué más, todo bien? / What's up, everything good?
  • Parce / Parcero

While you’ll hear this everywhere you go in Colombia, when you go to Medellin…you will hear this A LOT!

Like the got damn all the time. It’s like saying “Bro” or “Dude” in Colombian Spanish.

How to use ‘Parcero‘ in a sentence:

Qué más parcero? / What's up bro?
  • Rumbaaaa

If you like to party, you’ll hear this word every weekend — with no exception. People don’t say “Vamos a la fiesta” as textbooks say, people say “Vamos para la rumba”.

You can also hear, “Vamos a rumbear”, which translates “Let’s Party”.

How to use ‘Rumba‘ in a sentence:

Vamos pa' la rumba o qué? / Are we going to the party or what?
  • Parchar

You’ll often hear “Parchar”, which means “chill” or “hang out” in some context. But sometimes you’ll hear “Parchando“, which means “Chilling”.

Desparchado, on the other hand, means “bored”.

How to use ‘Parchar‘ in a sentence:

Hey parcero, vamos a parchar. / Hey bro, let's hang out.

How to use ‘Desparchado‘ in a sentence:

Estoy bien desparchado. / I'm really bored.
  • Polas

This one might confuse you a bit, but it’s damn important for most of us traveling gringos. “Polas” means “Beer” in Colombia.

Cervecitas” is used too.

How to use ‘Polas’ in a sentence:

Vamos por unas polas. / Let's get some beers.
  • Guayabo

You will NEVER hear “resaca” unless you’re speaking with a gringo or other foreigner.

The most common way to say “Hangover” is “Guayabo” or “Enguayabao”.

How to use ‘Guayabo‘ in a sentence:

Tengo full guayabo. / I have a bad hangover.
  • Lucas / Plata

Here’s the deal, the word “dinero” is not that common in the streets. You will hear most of the time “Lucas” or “Plata”.

Yup, “cincuenta lucas” means “fifty thousand pesos”. “Twenty lucas” means “twenty thousand pesos”.

You get the point. You will definitely steal a laugh from any local if you say this instead of pesos.

How to use ‘Lucas‘ in a sentence:

Solo tengo veinte lucas. / I only have twenty thousand pesos.
  • Bacano

If you want to express that something is pretty “awesome” or “cool”– you’ll  just say “Bacano”. It’s a pretty common expression.

If you’re looking to start incorporating some Colombian slang into your Spanish vocabulary, this is a great place to start.

How to use ‘Bacano‘ in a sentence:

Ese sueter está bacano. / That sweater is awesome.
  • Dar Papaya

Papaya is a fruit that’s often eaten in Colombia. But “Dar Papaya” doesn’t mean “Give Papaya”. It’s more like when you’re flashing your latest iPhone in the streets and giving criminals a reason rob you.

You’ll hear this expression all the time when going full-gringo in Colombia. Locals will warn you about being dumb.

How to use ‘Dar Papaya‘ in a sentence:

Hey parcero, no des papaya. / Hey bro, don't give them a reason to rob you.
  • Sapo

I know this literally means “Frog”. However, “Sapo” in Colombia is someone who snitches or doesn’t keep a secret.

If you’re ever are called “Sapo” here, you’ll know why.

How to use ‘Sapo‘ in a sentence:

Hey parcero, no sea sapo. / Hey bro, don't be a snitch.
  • Gonorrea

Yes, I’m talking about the STD! Colombian slang can be a bit odd, eh?

Here’s how you use this slang term properly…

The most common expression would be “Que gonorrea”, which means someone is being pretty harsh to another person.

Sometimes you can hear “Ayyyee! Gonorrea.” This is used when you’re highly surprised by something or someone, usually bad.

How to use ‘Gonorrea‘ in a sentence:

Ese man es una gonorrea. / That guy is an asshole.
  • Chimba

Here we go again… Colombians can be funny when it comes to slang terms. I mean, “Chimba” is technically an attractive women’s vagina.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here. This expression is used when something is really great!

See what I’m saying? Anyway, try to use this only when you’re hanging out with friends.

How to use ‘Chimba‘ in a sentence:

Que chimba de concierto! / What an awesome concert!
  • Mamando Gallo

This literally means “Sucking a rooster”.  And by “rooster” I mean…well, you get the picture here.

But this is in no way used to express that. It means someone is screwing around with you. Joking. Playing. Messing around.

Weird, huh?

How to use ‘Mamando Gallo‘ in a sentence:

Me estás mamando gallo? / Are you kidding me? or Are you messing with me?
  • Marica

Make no mistake about it…

You will hear this a lot. In any and every part of the country. “Marica” technically means “Gay” in Spanish. In Colombia, the word really doesn’t mean that.

It has multiple purposes in Colombia slang terminology.

Just note, you’ll generally only call people you know personally “Marica” in Colombia. Don’t go to the bus station ordering a ticket and calling random dudes you don’t know “homo” in Colombian slang.

How to use ‘Marica‘ in a sentence:

Qué pasa, marica? / What's wrong, bro/homo?

Ayyye, marica! / WTF!
  • Mamado/a

This literally means “sucked” or “sucking” — but it is often used when someone is really tired. Colombians use “Mamado” when they’re exhausted or drained.

Just remember to use this word in Colombia only, as this can mean some dirty stuff in other parts of South America.

Note: ‘Mamada’ if you’re a woman.

How to use ‘Mamado’ in a sentence:

Me voy, estoy bastante mamado. / I'm out, I’m really tired.

Colombiana


How To Learn Spanish Like a Parcero

If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely you’re tired of having the same elementary school conversations about the same topics in Spanish.

I was too!

So I started investing in my Spanish learning and striving to improve.

If you plan to spend a good chunk of time in Colombia, I recommend you do the same. Start improving your Spanish as much as you can. Speak, study, and more.

Here’s a few ways to rapidly improve your Colombian Spanish speaking ability:

  • No More Textbooks

If you’re wondering how can you speak like a parcero, let me say…

Practice is the only way. You just gotta practice, practice, and practice some more.

And by practice, I mean speak with people — in-person or on Skype classes.

Don’t get me wrong, books are good. But only up to a certain point. After that, you need to speak Spanish with Colombians (or even Venezuelans) as much as you can.

This is where you’ll see real improvement!

  • BaseLang

This is when I heard about BaseLang from a parcero living in Colombia. His Spanish speaking had transform completely.

From garbage to conversational in only a few months.

Te lo juro!

I was instantly sold when I heard him sustain a conversation with a waitress. I typed “BaseLang” in a notepad on my phone and signed up right when I got home that evening.

That’s when my Spanish really improved. The service they offered was designed to “hack” the love language and teach you real, conversational Spanish from day one.

--> Here is a full review of my BaseLang Spanish learning experience.
  • Go out and talk to locals

Many people “learn” stuff, but never put it to practice. Don’t be that gringo.

Colombians are more than willing to speak with non-native speakers. The locals are pretty friendly when it comes to having a conversation in Spanish with a gringo.

I know it may be difficult at times, but you have to overcome any nervousness and just start speaking to people. The more you speak Spanish with native speakers, the faster you’ll improve.


Colombia lighthouse


Gringo’s Guide To Colombian Slang | The Verdict

Qué más quieres, marica?

Go learn some Spanish, get down to Colombia, and practice. You now have the fundamentals to stepping your game up. Oh, and you already know some of the most important slang words in Colombia.

Ya tu sabes.

With these tips and a few months studying, your speaking and listening skills will skyrocket.

If I missed an important Colombian Slang term or if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments below.

I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

Que te vaya bien,

Jake



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Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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