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Colombian Slang Phrases To Speak Like A Local


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Melicent Mosby



Colombia, a vibrant and diverse country in South America, is known for its rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and warm and friendly people. One of the fascinating aspects of Colombian culture is its unique and colorful slang language. From the bustling streets of Bogotá to the coastal cities of Cartagena and the coffee regions of Medellín, Colombians use a variety of slang phrases that add flavor to their everyday conversations.


Understanding Colombian slang is not only a fun way to connect with locals but also provides valuable insights into the country’s culture and way of life. Whether you’re planning a trip to Colombia, have Colombian friends, or simply want to broaden your linguistic knowledge, learning some popular Colombian slang phrases is a great way to immerse yourself in the local language and make deeper connections with the people you encounter.


In this article, we’ll explore a range of Colombian slang phrases that will help you speak like a local. From greetings and expressions to slang related to food, drinks, everyday conversations, relationships, parties, people, money, and work, we’ll cover a diverse range of topics to give you a comprehensive understanding of Colombian slang. So, get ready to dive into the exciting world of Colombian slang and discover phrases that will make you feel like a true paisa, costeño, or rolo!


Understanding Colombian Slang

Colombian slang, also known as “caló” or “jerga,” is a fascinating and ever-evolving language that is used by Colombians in their daily interactions. It is a form of informal speech that reflects the cultural nuances and regional diversity of the country. Understanding Colombian slang is essential for engaging in conversations with Colombians and fully immersing yourself in their vibrant culture.


One of the reasons why Colombian slang is so unique is its regional variations. Each region and city in Colombia has its own distinctive slang words and expressions. For example, in Medellín, locals are referred to as “paisas” and have their own set of slang phrases, while in the coastal cities like Cartagena, the dialect and slang are influenced by the Afro-Caribbean culture. Therefore, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the slang words and expressions that are commonly used in the specific region or city you are visiting.


Colombian slang is also heavily influenced by Spanish, with a mix of indigenous, African, and English words. The use of diminutives and augmentatives is common in Colombian slang, where words are modified by adding suffixes to give them a different connotation or emphasis. This adds a playful and colloquial touch to the language.


Furthermore, Colombian slang is characterized by its creativity, with new words and expressions emerging regularly. The slang phrases can vary in meaning depending on the context and tone in which they are used. It’s important to note that some slang expressions may be considered informal or even offensive in certain situations, so it’s essential to be mindful of the context and the people you are speaking to.


To fully grasp Colombian slang, it’s helpful to immerse yourself in local conversations, watch Colombian movies and TV shows, and listen to Colombian music. This exposure will not only familiarize you with the language but also give you insights into the culture, traditions, and perspectives of Colombians.


Now that we have an understanding of Colombian slang, let’s dive into some popular phrases and expressions that will help you communicate like a local during your time in Colombia.


Greetings and Expressions

Colombians are known for their warmth and friendliness, and their greetings reflect this. When meeting someone, it is common to greet them with a handshake or a hug, depending on the level of familiarity. In addition to the standard greetings, Colombians also have slang expressions that add an extra touch of friendliness and informality to their interactions.


One of the most common expressions you’ll hear in Colombia is “¿Qué más?” which translates to “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” It’s a casual and friendly way to start a conversation and is often used between friends or acquaintances. Another common greeting is “¿Cómo estás?” which means “How are you?” and can be used in both formal and informal settings.


Colombians also have a unique way of saying “hello” using the slang phrase “Buenas” or “Buenas tardes” for “good afternoon.” This informal greeting is used throughout the day and is a way to say hello without using the standard “Hola.”


When saying goodbye, Colombians often use the phrase “Chao” (pronounced chow) which is derived from the Italian word for goodbye. It’s a casual and widely used expression, particularly among younger generations. Another common expression is “Nos vemos” which means “See you later” or “Hasta luego” which translates to “Until later.” These phrases are used when parting ways with someone and express the intention of meeting again in the future.


In addition to greetings, Colombians have slang expressions for expressing gratitude and politeness. “¡Gracias a mil!” or “Mil gracias” is a way to say “Thank you very much” and is often used to express deep appreciation. When someone asks for a favor, Colombians might respond with “A la orden” which means “At your service” or “Of course, I’m here to help.”


It’s important to remember that Colombian slang can vary across different regions and cities, so you might encounter some local expressions that are unique to specific areas. By familiarizing yourself with these greetings and expressions, you’ll be able to connect with Colombians on a more personal level and make a great impression during your time in Colombia.


Slang Related to Food and Drinks

Colombia is famous for its delicious cuisine, and it’s no surprise that there are slang words and expressions related to food and drinks. Whether you’re exploring the local street food or dining in a traditional Colombian restaurant, knowing these slang phrases will enhance your culinary experience and make you feel like a true local foodie.


One of the most common food-related slang phrases in Colombia is “chuchaqui.” This expression refers to the feeling of a hangover and is often used humorously after a night of indulging in drinks. So, if you wake up feeling a little rough after a night of partying, you can use this phrase to describe your state.


When it comes to street food, Colombians have their own slang names for some popular snacks. If you’re craving a quick and delicious snack, try asking for an “empanadita” which is a small empanada or a “pandebono” which is a cheesy bread roll. These affordable and tasty snacks are widely available in Colombian cities and are perfect for satisfying your cravings on the go.


Colombians are also known for their love of coffee, and there are slang expressions related to this popular beverage. If you want to order a cup of coffee, you can use the phrase “un tintico” which is a colloquial way of saying “a small coffee.” Additionally, if you prefer your coffee with a lot of milk, you can ask for a “tinto largo” which means a coffee with plenty of milk.


When it comes to drinks, Colombians often use the term “agüita” which translates to “a little water.” This is not actually referring to water but is slang for a small alcoholic drink or a shot. So, if you’re at a bar and want to order a shot of your favorite spirit, you can use the word “agüita.”


Finally, if you’re dining out and want to compliment the chef on a delicious meal, you can use the slang expression “está chimba” which means “it’s awesome” or “it’s great.” This phrase is commonly used to describe something that is exceptionally good, and it can be applied to both food and drinks.


By using these food and drink-related slang phrases, you’ll not only enhance your culinary experience but also connect with locals who will appreciate your knowledge of Colombian slang. So, don’t be afraid to dive into the world of Colombian food and drinks and explore the unique flavors and expressions that make Colombian cuisine so special.


Slang for Everyday Conversations

When engaging in everyday conversations with Colombians, it’s helpful to be familiar with the slang phrases that they commonly use. These expressions add a touch of informality and authenticity to conversations and will make you feel more connected to the local culture. Let’s explore some of the popular slang phrases for everyday conversations in Colombia.


One commonly used expression is “parce” (pronounced par-say), which is slang for “friend” or “buddy.” It’s a way to address someone casually and is widely used among friends and peers. You can use this term to refer to someone directly or to greet them in a friendly manner, such as saying “Hola, parce” (Hello, buddy).


Another common phrase you’ll hear in Colombia is “chévere” (pronounced che-ve-re), which means “cool” or “awesome.” It’s an expression used to express admiration or approval and is often used to describe something that is enjoyable or exciting. For example, if you have a great experience or visit a beautiful place, you can say “¡Qué chévere!” (How cool!) to express your enthusiasm.


Colombians also have a unique way of saying “yes.” Instead of using the standard “sí,” they often use the slang phrase “claro que sí” (pronounced clar-oh ke see), which means “of course” or “absolutely.” This phrase adds emphasis and is used to affirm and show agreement. For example, if someone asks if you’re ready to go, you can respond with “¡Claro que sí!” (Of course!).


If you want to express surprise or amazement, you can use the expression “¡Qué vaina!” (pronounced ke vai-na), which can be translated to “What a thing!” or “Oh my gosh!” It’s a versatile phrase that can be used in a positive or negative context and is often used to express strong emotions or reactions.


During conversations, Colombians also use the phrase “bueno” (pronounced bweh-no), which literally means “good” but is used in various contexts. It can be used as a filler word when someone is thinking or hesitating before responding. It can also be used to indicate agreement, understanding, or the end of a conversation. For example, at the end of a phone call, you can say “bueno” to indicate that you’re ready to hang up.


By incorporating these everyday slang phrases into your conversations, you’ll be able to connect with Colombians on a deeper level and make your interactions feel more natural and authentic. So, embrace the colorful language of everyday conversations in Colombia and enjoy the sense of camaraderie it brings.


Slang for Relationships and Interactions

Colombians have a unique way of expressing themselves when it comes to relationships and interactions. From terms of endearment to phrases that describe different types of relationships, knowing the slang used in these contexts will help you navigate social interactions and better understand the dynamics between people. Let’s explore some of the slang phrases commonly used for relationships and interactions in Colombia.


One of the most common terms of endearment used in Colombia is “mi amor” (pronounced mee ah-mor), which translates to “my love.” This phrase is used to express affection towards someone and can be used for romantic partners, family members, or close friends. It’s a warm and endearing expression that signifies a close bond.


When referring to a boyfriend or girlfriend, Colombians often use the word “novio” (pronounced no-vee-oh) for a male partner and “novia” (pronounced no-vee-ah) for a female partner. These terms are widely used to describe romantic relationships.


When addressing a group of friends or a mixed-gender group, Colombians use the term “parche” (pronounced par-che), which is slang for a group of friends or buddies. It signifies a close-knit group of friends who spend time together and share common interests.


Colombians also have slang phrases to describe different types of connections. For example, “pana” (pronounced pa-na) is a colloquial term that refers to a close friend or buddy. It’s similar to “parce” but signifies an even closer bond.


To refer to someone as a “crack” (pronounced krak) is to describe them as an expert or a highly skilled individual in a specific field or activity. This term is often used to praise someone’s abilities or accomplishments and is typically used with admiration.


When someone is being overly flirtatious or making advances towards someone else, Colombians may use the slang term “pirobo/a” (pronounced pee-roh-boh/ah). While it can be seen as offensive in some contexts, in a playful and friendly environment, it’s often used to tease or joke around with friends.


By understanding and using these slang expressions for relationships and interactions, you’ll be able to connect with Colombians on a more personal level and navigate social situations with ease. However, it’s important to be aware of the context and the level of familiarity between you and the person you’re speaking to, as some slang phrases may be more appropriate in certain situations than others.


Slang for Partying and Celebrations

Colombians know how to have a good time, and their vibrant culture is filled with slang phrases related to partying and celebrations. Whether you’re attending a local fiesta, hitting the dance floor, or simply enjoying a festive gathering, knowing these slang expressions will allow you to fully embrace the party spirit and connect with Colombians in a lively and energetic way.


When it comes to partying, one commonly used slang phrase is “rumbear” (pronounced roo-mbear), which means “to party” or “to have a good time.” Colombians love to dance and enjoy themselves, and “rumbear” encompasses the idea of going out and enjoying a lively celebration. So, if you’re invited to a party or event, you can ask your friends “¿Vamos a rumbear?” (Shall we go party?) and get ready for a fantastic night.


Colombians also have a term for a wild or crazy party, which is known as a “pachanga” (pronounced pa-chan-ga). This word refers to a lively and festive celebration with lots of music, dancing, and good vibes. If you’re attending a pachanga, get ready to let loose and have a great time.


When describing a fun and lively party or event, Colombians often use the word “bacano/a” (pronounced bah-cah-no/ah). It translates to “cool” or “awesome” and can be used to describe anything that is enjoyable, exciting, or impressive. So, if you’re having a great time at a party, you can say, “Esta fiesta está bacana” (This party is cool).


When it comes to celebrations, Colombians have their own slang phrase for “cheers” during a toast. Instead of the standard “salud” or “chin-chin,” they use the expression “arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro” (pronounced a-ree-bah, ah-bah-ho, al sen-tro, pa den-tro). This fun and catchy phrase is a way of cheering and clinking glasses before taking a drink.


During celebrations, it’s common to dance salsa, merengue, or other Latin dances. Colombians often refer to dancing as “champetear” (pronounced cham-pe-tear), which is a slang term that refers to dancing energetically and with great enthusiasm. So, if you’re at a party and want to hit the dance floor, you can say, “¡Vamos a champetear!” (Let’s go dance!).


By incorporating these party and celebration-related slang phrases into your conversations and interactions, you’ll be able to join in the festive spirit and fully embrace the lively Colombian culture. So, get ready to rumbear, enjoy a pachanga, and dance the night away at the next fiesta you attend in Colombia.


Slang for Describing People and Characteristics

Colombians have a colorful and creative way of describing people and their characteristics using slang expressions. These slang phrases add a playful and lighthearted element to conversations and can help you better understand the nuances of Colombian culture. Let’s explore some of the popular slang phrases used to describe people and their characteristics in Colombia.


When someone is energetic, lively, or full of life, Colombians often use the slang term “pilas” (pronounced pee-las) to describe them. This term is commonly used to refer to someone who is energetic, proactive, and always ready to take on new challenges.


Colombians also have a playful way of describing someone who is well-dressed or fashion-forward. The slang word “pinta” (pronounced peen-tah) is used to describe someone’s style or appearance. If you’re impressed by someone’s sense of fashion, you can say, “¡Qué pinta tienes!” (What a stylish look you have!).


When referring to someone who is brave or daring, Colombians often use the term “macho” (pronounced mah-cho). This term is not gender-specific and can be applied to both males and females. It signifies someone who is courageous and willing to take risks.


Colombians also have a slang phrase to describe someone who is in great physical shape or has a fit body. The term “atletica/o” (pronounced at-leh-tee-kah/koh) is used to refer to someone who is athletic and physically fit. This term can be used for both genders.


To describe someone who is outgoing, sociable, and enjoys being around people, Colombians use the slang term “desparpajado/a” (pronounced des-par-pa-ha-do/da). It signifies someone who is easygoing and has a friendly and approachable demeanor.


If someone is being excessively talkative or chatty, Colombians may use the slang term “parlanchín/a” (pronounced par-lan-chin/chin) to describe them. This term is generally used in a lighthearted and teasing manner.


When referring to someone who is intelligent or clever, Colombians often use the term “piloso/a” (pronounced pee-lo-so/sa). This slang term is used to describe someone who is intellectually sharp and quick-witted.


By incorporating these slang phrases into your conversations, you’ll not only be able to describe people and their characteristics in a unique way but also connect with Colombians on a deeper level. These slang expressions add a playful and lighthearted touch to conversations and allow you to fully embrace the vibrant Colombian culture. So, don’t hesitate to use these slang phrases when describing people and their qualities during your time in Colombia.


Slang for Money and Work

When it comes to money and work, Colombians have their own slang expressions that reflect their attitudes and experiences in the workplace and financial matters. Understanding these slang phrases will not only help you navigate conversations about business and finances but also give you insight into the unique cultural perspectives surrounding money and work in Colombia.


One common slang term for money in Colombia is “plata” (pronounced blah-tah), which is used to refer to currency in general. Colombians may use this term to talk about earning or spending money, such as saying “ganar plata” (earn money) or “gastar plata” (spend money).


Colombians also have a slang phrase for a small amount of money, often used when referring to loose change. The term “monedas” (pronounced moh-neh-dahs) translates to “coins” and can be used to describe a small amount of cash. For example, if someone asks you for a small contribution or payment, you can say, “Aquí tienes unas monedas” (Here are some coins).


When discussing work or employment, Colombians may use the phrase “echarle ganas” (pronounced eh-char-leh gah-nahs), which translates to “to give it your all” or “to make an effort.” This expression is often used to encourage someone to work hard or put in extra effort to achieve their goals.


Another slang phrase commonly used in the context of work is “chamba” (pronounced chahm-bah), which means “job” or “work.” This term adds a casual and colloquial touch when referring to employment. For example, you can ask someone, “¿Cómo te va en la chamba?” (How’s work going for you?).


In addition, Colombians may use the term “vaina” (pronounced vai-nah) to refer to work or a task. This slang word can be used to describe something that requires effort or is a bit of a hassle. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, you can say, “Tengo muchas vainas que hacer” (I have a lot of things to do).


Colombians also have a term for a promotion or raise at work. The slang term “ascenso” (pronounced ah-sen-so) is used to describe getting a step up in one’s career or a salary increase. It’s often used to discuss professional achievements or advancements.


By familiarizing yourself with these slang phrases related to money and work, you’ll be able to engage in conversations about finances and employment more comfortably with Colombians. These expressions offer insights into the local perspectives on money and work, while adding a touch of informality and colloquialism to your interactions. So, don’t be afraid to incorporate these slang phrases into your conversations to connect on a deeper level about money and work in Colombia.



Congratulations! You’ve now dived into the colorful and vibrant world of Colombian slang. You’ve explored a range of expressions and phrases that will help you speak like a true local and connect with Colombians on a deeper level. From greetings and expressions to slang related to food, drinks, everyday conversations, relationships, parties, people, money, and work, you’ve gained valuable insights into the unique language and culture of Colombia.


Remember, Colombian slang is diverse and ever-evolving, with regional variations and new expressions regularly emerging. So, continue your exploration by immersing yourself in local conversations, movies, music, and everyday interactions. Embrace the creativity, informality, and authenticity of Colombian slang, and watch as your connections with locals deepen and your understanding of the country’s culture expands.


As you use Colombian slang in your conversations, be mindful of the context, tone, and level of familiarity with the person you’re speaking to. Slang phrases can differ in appropriateness depending on the situation, so always gauge the appropriateness of using certain slang expressions.


Lastly, enjoy the journey of discovering and using Colombian slang. Let it add flavor and excitement to your experiences in Colombia, whether you’re traveling, working, or engaging in social interactions. By embracing the local language, you’ll not only enhance your communication skills but also build deeper connections with the warm and friendly people of this beautiful country.