Salvadoran slang – The 10 most important phrases you should know
Maybe you have already made the experience: you thought your Spanish is quite well and then you start a conversation with some local people at a party – and you’re getting lost in translation! If you travel to a foreign country and want to learn another language, you will recognize all these slang words and phrases sooner or later. Same in El Salvador! Be prepared and get to know the ten most crucial phrases in Salvadoran slang.
¡Que chivo! [keh-chee-voh]
Literally, it means “What a goat!” which obviously makes no sense at all. But it’s just an expression if you find something really cool, like: “How cool!” Example: ¡Que chivo que viniste a la fiesta! (“It’s so cool that you came to the party!”)
¿Qué onda(s)? [keh-on-das]
You can hear that very often when people (friends) in El Salvador greet each other (literally: “What’s the wave?”). This phrase is probably one of the most often Salvadoran slang expressions you will hear. The answer could be like “Todo tranquilo!” (“All easy-going!”). Don’t say it to your Salvadoran boss if you have one; it is too much slang.
¡Que buena (mala) onda! [ke-voo-e-na on-dah]
As you can see, the word “onda” (wave) is viral in Salvadoran Slang. You can use this expression if you want to express your gratitude or admiration if someone has done something beautiful (to you or someone else) “¡Qué buena onda!”. If someone misbehaves, you can say, “Que mala onda!”. You will often hear it when a friend or someone that finds you sympathetic says goodbye to you, for example: “Nos vemos, buena oda!”. (May you could translate it with: “See you soon, good vibes, nice to meet you!”)
¡Púchica! also, "¡Puya!" [poo-chee-kah / poo-yah]
To avoid the harsh word “Puta!”, if you feel like swearing, you can use “Púchica!”. For example, your freshly bought ice-cream drops into the dirt you can yell: “Púchica!”. It’s also ok to use it in front of children; everyone does.
!Regaláme ... (tres pupusas) , por favor! [re-gah-lah-meh...]
It’s a very charming Salvadoran slang way of asking for something: “Can I have ….(whatever)!”. You can use it if you’re in a restaurant, a shop or somewhere where you would ask for something that you want to buy. Literally, it means “Please give me ….as a present!”. Everyone will understand it in El Salvador. But don’t use it in Spain, for example. The answer would be: “Hey dude, we’re a business: we sell things, we don’t donate!”.
A Salvadoran slang word that you can often hear among good friends: “Ey maje, pasame otra cerveza!”. You can probably translate it with “dude” in the US or “mate” in Australia. Used among friends, it’s a kind word. But sometimes it’s also used if you dislike someone: “Este maje me cae mal!” (“I don’t like this dude (idiot)!”).
¡Ahuevo! or ¡Cabal! or ¡Simón!
Three Salvadoran slang expressions that mean nothing more than “Correct, you’re right!”. For example: “Compraste estas flores para mí!” – “A huevo!” (“Did you buy all these flowers for me!” – “Correct!”).
If you ever wanted to buy something small in El Salvador, you often hear: “Dos coras, por favor!”. A “cora” means a quarter or a quarter dollar. The US-Dollar is the official currency in El Salvador. So the Salvadoran people use the slang word “cora” as their way to pronounce “a quarter”.
If you want to describe something (or a situation) that has a poor quality, you can say “cacaso”. For example: “Este carro esta bien cacaso.” (“This car is sh….!”). Don’t use it in a formal conversation!
"Guanaco To English" - Your Salvadoran Slang guide
Beside all these Salvadoran slang expressions, there is way more. If you’re interested, you should buy “Guanaco to English”, a lovely dictionary from Diego Argueta that is provided in several shops and in our Spanish School. You can read an interesting interview with him on our blog if you click here. Also, there are way more words and phrases. If you want a good conversation with a Salvadoran, ask him or her for their favorite Salvadoran slang expressions. And yes, of course, there’re a lot of dirty ones. But we decided not to write them down in this blog 😉