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Language in Colombia

When you can understand the slang of the ’Costeño’ language on the Caribbean coast then you're doing very well! Colombians from Bogotá, Cali or Medellín are the easiest to understand. The Colombian language is an interesting language to learn but in general one word has got thousands of synonyms so that doesn’t make it that easy. Just to give you an example ‘Pelao’ can mean kid, hairless or even broke.

People in Colombia are full of love. You are very fast ‘mi amor’ (my love) or ‘mi corazón’ (my heart) so don’t start to panic: this is without falling truly in love with you. They say gringo/gringa to all the foreigners but they don´t mean this in a bad way. What is a gringo? Papi and Mami are used without you being their dad or mum!

Check out here:
Spanish schools Colombia

Colombians like to make things smaller. For example:

agua (water) →aguita
ahora (now) → ahorita (right now!)
minuto (minute) → minutico (small minute)
chico (small) → chiquito (even smaller)
gato (cat) → gatico (baby cat)
el chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) → el chocolatico calientico (a little hot chocolate)
bien (good) → buenecito → buenecitico (very good!)

Personal pronouns are ‘yo, tu, el/ella, nosotros y usted’. In Colombia they don’t generally use ‘vos’ except in ‘Paisalandia’, the coffee growing region. ‘Usted’ is the polite and more usual formal way of addressing someone.

A la orden! = You’re welcome, thank you

Alborada = When the first light of the sun is shown in sky

Agua mala = Jellyfish

Bacaneria total = Really awesome

Bájate del bus = Daydreaming, get your feet back on the ground

Cachaco = People from the centre of Colombia, specially from Bogotá

Calimeño = A cool, relax, friendly person from the Pacific coast (Costeño)

Chévere, Bacáno, Bacán = Cool, great, fantastic

China or Sardina = Young girl/woman

Coger = To take the bus, taxi…

Corroncho (a) = Bad taste, bad behaviour, doesn’t fit into the society, no manners

De una = Let’s do it!

Eche = To reclaim something or express disbelief

Entonces = So…

Estoy enguayabado = I have a hangover

Gamín = Street person

Guayabo = Hangover

Hacer la tarea = To do your homework, to get it done… but also means  to have sex (when a couple wants to have kids, like they are trying to have a baby)

Que hueso= When someone tells a bad joke

Juepucha = Oh my god!

Jugo de tubo = Tap water. A drink (like water) that comes out of a (tube) plastic bottle. 
It is more like a costeño joke ‘What are we drinking?’ or ‘What are you offering me to drink?’; the answer would be ‘Jugo de Tubo’ meaning ‘made specially for you’ (though water is nothing special).

La Berraquera = THE best

La Puntica No Má = Is a saying from the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Literally it means ‘only the tip of it’, referring in a funny way to the insinuation of a sexual encounter between a male with a reluctant female (or whatever), but is also the name of a ‘comparsa’ (dancing/costume group) which you can join in the Barranquilla’s Carnival parades like La Gran Parada.

Listo = Okay, alright, done, …

Luna de Miel = Honeymoon

Maluco = not feeling well, doesnt taste right

Mejor dicho = Enough, let’s move on

Mochila = Backpack

Mochilero = Backpacker

Mujeriego = a charming womanizer

No joda = WOW, amazement, no kidding, or also don't fuck around

No pasa nada = No worries

Oiga = Listen to me

Parce = Friend

Piñata = A paper box, filled with candy or small presents hung up on the ceiling. The birthday boy or girl needs to crack open the paper box with a stick (and blindfolded) so that the candy cascades down out of the box. This is a Mexican tradition used at birthday parties but is common too in Colombia.

Piragua = Fishermans rowing boat

Piropo = It's a compliment, especially from a guy to a girl, telling her how cute, or beautiful she is.

Plata, biyuyo =  Silver, money, cash

Plomo = lead, gunfire

Pola = Is who the cachacos say beer! ’Vamos a tomarnos unas polas’

Por fin = At last

Pues = Really does not mean anything, it is simply an expression that appears at the end of many sentences (especially in Medellín). ‘Hágale pues!’ which is connecting 2 ideas together.

Gracias = Thank you

Que Lindo / Que Chévere  = How cute/cool is that

Qué más? = How are you?

Que pava = How boring

¡Qué pena! = Sorry

Rumba = Party, dancing

Se le corrió el champú = They are crazy! (literally translated: the shampoo fell over)

Siesta = 2 Hours off between 12am and 2pm / a nap

Tomar el pelo = Literally ‘To take the hair’, which means to pull someone’s leg

Tombo = Police officer

Ya  = Now, I understand, oh

Ya voy  = I am leaving now

Vuelta = To run an errand

Vuelta a manzana = To go around the block (manzana means more than just an apple here!)


= A compliment, especially from a guy to a girl, telling her how cute, or beautiful she is.

At Medellín: ’¡Niña, Es más fácil brincarla que darle la vuelta, pero yo hago la excursión!’ MEANS ’Girl, it's easier to jump over you than around you... but I can make the hike! ’  (sounds funnier in Spanish, though).

At the Caribbean coast: ’Mami, si como caminas cocinas... me como hasta el cucayo!’ MEANS (cucayo = fried rice left on the bottom of the pot when you make it) ’Babe, if you cook like you walk, I can eat your rice leftovers on the pot.’

At the Pacific coast - Cali: '¡Suegra, le cambio a su hija por mi papá y le encimo dos tíos!' MEANS 'Mother-in-law, let's exchange your daughter for my father and I'll give you two uncles.’ This is said when someone sees a mother and a daughter walking on the streets.

At Colombia: 'Si la belleza fuera Beethoven tu seria su quinta sinfonía.’ MEANS ’If beauty was like Beethoven, you would be his fifth Symphony’.

’Tantos años de ser jardinero y nunca había visto una flor más hermosa que tú.’ MEANS 'In all the years of being a gardener I´ve never seen a flower more beautiful than you.'

'Con esos ojos, quién no quisiera ser luna para cuidar tu sueño.' MEANS 'With those eyes, who wouldn´t want to be the moon to watch over your sleep.'

'Si el sol pudiera mirarte, nunca sería de noche'. MEANS 'If the sun could look at you, there would never be night'

'De todas las flores, la más bonita es la rosa y de todas las mujeres, tú eres la más hermosa'. MEANS 'Of all the flowers, the most beautiful is the rose and of all women, you're the most beautiful'.

R con R cigarro,                                    R with R cigar
R con R barril,                                       R with R barrel
rápido ruedan los carros                      Quickly run the cars
cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.      Loaded with sugar on the railroad.

En tres tristes trastos de trigo,             In three sad bales of wheat,
tres tristes tigres comían trigo,            Three sad tigers were eating wheat, 
comían trigo, tres tristes tigres,           eating wheat, three sad tigers, 
en tres tristes trastos de trigo.              in three sad bales of wheat.

Compadre compreme un coco, compadre, no compro coco. Porque como poco coco como, poco como compro.

-> My friend buy me a coconut, my friend I dont buy coconut. ´Cause few coconut I eat, few coconut I buy.

Sobre el triple trapecio de Trípoli trabajaban, trigonométricamente trastrocados, tres tristes triunviros trogloditas, tropezando atribulados contra trípodes, triciclos y otros trastos triturados por el tremendo tetrarca trapense.

-> Over the triple trapeze of Tripoli there worked, trigonometrically switched over, three sad troglodyte triumvirs, affectedly bumping into tripods, triclinia and other gear crushed by the terrible Trappist tetrarch.