List of Chicano Caló Words and Expressions
The following is a list of Chicano slang words and expressions, known as Caló, also spelled "Calo" and "Kalo" by modern Chicano youth. It does not list words and expressions of the language of the Spanish Roma people, which is also called Caló, except where these have been incorporated into Chicano Caló. Nor does it list Mexican slang words and expressions unless they have originated in Pachuco Caló or have been incorporated into it with altered meaning. A few words can be traced to the Nahuatl language of the Mexicas (Aztecs, pronounced "meh-shi-ka"). Others adapt English or indigenous languages of the Southwest.
The English letters W and K, which are not historically part of Mexican or Spain Spanish, are more frequently used in Caló. Spelling in general is more flexible—in tagging or on the internet, K can replace C or Q; V and B are interchangeable; Z can replace S; H can replace J.
These expressions vary by place, especially with the use of modifying suffixes. For example, the word 'chafa' (low quality) can be heard in various neighborhoods or regions as 'chafaldrana', 'chafoso', or 'chafarrafa'. Some suffixes originate in Mexican Spanish, such as "-azo"; others like "-ucha" and "-ldrana" are specific to Chicano Caló.
The use of some "classic" pachuco slang words from the 1930s and 40s has survived while others have not.
a ponemos chancla
(from chancla, Nahuatl for sandal) "Let's dance". The grammar is deliberately incorrect.
(lit. "eagle") "Be alert"
a form of help "Aliviáname - help me"
"to be alert, be careful". ¡Agua! ("Water!) is the cry of sellers of dodgy items when police are spotted.
a toda madre - great, fantastic, out of sight (expression antedates the abbreviation for "automated teller machine")
A drunk or someone on a bender.
derogatory term for "white boy" or "white guy," similar to "cracker" in American slang. Derived from the white dinner roll of the same name. Also used in Mexican Spanish.
A dollar. "Prestame una bola." "Lend me a dollar."
(also "bomb") a lowrider car or truck from the 1930s - mid-1950s
(literally: "can") jail or prison; also, a lid of marijuana.
dance, party. "Vamos al borlo." "Let's go to the dance/party."
trouble or a problem with someone else
a contraction of the old spelling of Albuquerque, New Mexico (Originally spelled "Alburquerque").
to "bullshit"; to "chew the fat with"
Come here, go any where
California (also "Kali")
California. In standard Spanish, it means "caliphs".
a fond name for the border city Calexico, California in the US, The highest percentage of Mexican citizens of any city in the US (about 90%).
a language used by Chicanos or Mexican-Americans, derived from the name of the Spanish Gypsy (gitano) dialect, Caló
(lit. marbles) love; , genitals(male); also "andar a canicas"(walking around naked).
home; house; apartment
brother; close friend; homeboy, from primo carnal, "first-grade cousin." (also "karnal")
all at once, burdon, blows
Car, Your Ride (related to "carro," car)
joint, marijuana cigarette
beer (related to Mexican slang for large beer, "caguama," literally "giant turtle")
expresses disagreement, "no way"; antonym of simón
(from Gypsy/Gitano Calo) little girl; also used as an insult for a man that lacks courage
(from Gypsy/Gitano Calo, related to Mexican Spanish "chavo") little boy
cool. smooth. awesome. Possible Central American origin
cool. awesome. "que chido wey" "esta chida la rola"
a punch or a kick delivered during a fight or brawl
clique, social group, gang (also "klika")
(frequently abbreviated as "c/s") "Nobody can mess with this" (likely from Arabic-derived Spanish zafo = unobstructed, clear, safe, intact)
bruise, cut, scrape, head, wound of some sort.
gun (from cohete = rocket)
step on it, go for it
(lit. "from those over there") "the best"
beat it, get lost
to hit, irregular conjugation (descuento, descuentas, descuenta, descuentan, descontamos)
(also 'spensa)excuse me(?)
syn. for "zoot suit" (see below), originating in 1930s Harlem African American for stylish clothing;
East Los Angeles, California
echa la cookie
fast, as in running fast
Rio Grande Valley, Texas
short for Norteño
short for Norteña
to lock up. Standard Spanish.
to dress up, more specifically, to wear a tuxedo or suit
scared. Standard Spanish.
help, give a hand
a guy (lit. "that one", "that guy")
lie as in no esponges ese
angry, as in no te esponges == "don't get angry"
money (literally "fair", as in "county fair," but references the homonym "fare" as a bilingual pun)
knife. Spanish filo means "edge".
cool (as in "hip"); good. In standard Spanish, "firm".
(also "gavacho") insulting term for a white person. Related to Mexican Spanish slang for the United States, "el gabo" (In Spain, "Frenchman").
unfortunate, inappropriate, or cruel (possibly from Basque "gaizto")
Half-ass bullshit, work ethic
marijuana (whence the US slang word "reefer"; derived from "grifo")
(lit. "faucet") marijuana addict; someone who is always "prendido", or "lit"
(also "wacha" or "wachale") "Look"; "Watch"
(also "huero" or "weddo") white person; light skinned, blue eyed/blond person
(also "wisa" and "weesa") woman; girlfriend
Technically means a castrated bull, but it's often used as like homeboy or dude. For example, "Que onda guey?" means, "what's up man?" Also may refer to a man who's being cheated on by his significant other. Commonly used in Mexico, but considered somewhat vulgar there, guys say it to close friends, but you shouldn't call like an old woman or padre this, as it means castrated bull. (sometimes spelled "buey" or "wey")
(also "homie") 1) a very close associate usually identified as someone from one's own barrio or neighborhood; 2) a person with whom one identifies closely with implying a strong loyalty toward; possibly derivative of Spanish hombre
(also "holmes") variation on the word "homeboy", used to identify a friend; can also be used as a casual greeting for anyone
Firme / Feedme
1) everythings all good
a girl, or girlfriend
(also spelled "hyna", "heina", and "hayna") woman; honey; girlfriend
(lit. "boss") father
low life individual
(lit. "wool") money
"the truth" or an unquestionable axiom (as in "es laneta" means "that's the truth"), also tends to be followed with "que" as its universal conjunction to other words such as "laneta que el otro dia..." meaning "the truth is that the other day…". From la neta verdad, "the pure truth".
marijuana cigarette. In Spanish, "wood block".
(lit. "tires") a term for homemade sandals or beat-up shoes, also used to refer to extra fat acquired around the waist (similar to "rolls" or "love handles")
behave, be cool, chill out
(pronounced "loke") short for "loco"; a street crazy; hardcore street tough, also maddogs or heavily tinted sunglasses
Long Beach, CA The strongest gang in Long Beach, CA, part of the South Side structure controlled by the Mexican Mafia
Los Angeles, CA
excellent, high-achieving, outstanding
(also manfi) derogatory for lesbian, dyke
face. In Spanish, "mask".
derogatory for a dark-skinned male/female, usually African American; der. from mayatl (Nahuatl) an irridescent black scarab
someone who tries to "act black" such as by saying the word nigga,
from a Mexican origin
wetback. Any immigrant crossing the Rio Grande river (mostly Mexican). Literally, "wet".
the devil; demon. Literally "monkey".
slang for marijuana (possibly from Seminole "mota" meaning tobacco; in Mexican Spanish, mota means "speck")
no. Literally "oranges". In Spain the phrase "naranjas de la China" means "no way".
no. Literally "noses". In Spain the phrase would be "y unas narices".
(lit. "black") a somewhat affectionate term for a darker skinned individual of whatever race, e.g. chicano, African American or others (e.g. "vamos mi negro"), can be softened in the diminutive (negrito/a) as negro can also be derogatory
Pronounced "nee-kleh." Five cents.
don't mess around
no hay pedo
no problem; no sweat
northerner; street chapter of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, associated with the color red and the number 14.
no te quetes
don't get depressed
"Right on"; "Alright!"
asshole [example: ya no seas ojete]
Oklahoma City or 405 used mainly by SSVL 25
a native or resident of El Paso, Texas, later extended to mean all Mexicans and Mexican Americans adopting aspects of Pachuco culture such as dressing in zoot suits and speaking Caló.
paisa (from 'Paisano')
(also "border brother") a somewhat affectionate term for recent immigrants from Mexico
a style of art, with drawings or paintings made in prison, on handkerchiefs (literally "handkerchief")
(orig. nickname for the first name "Francisco") crying or complaining, used with the verb "hacer" i.e. "tu haces mucho pancho!" meaning "you do a lot of complaining"
fat man. Standard Spanish, compare English paunch.
fat woman; pregnant woman
pásame las tres
Literally, "pass me the three". "Let me have a drag" (of a cigarette)
slang for cocaine
(literally "fart") intoxicated; 'estar pedo'
problem; 'no hay pedo'
extremely foolish person, a coward, "no seas pendejo" (don't be a fool), "me hice pendejo" (I turned a blind eye); also pubic hair (archaic) highly offensive.
slang for cocaine
paramount=smallest city in L.A. County
very difficult; female trouble-maker (related to "perra," meaning female dog or bitch)
(lit. eyelash) sleep
slang for Phoenix, Arizona
did you "get" some (from Sp. picar, to poke)
jail; prison (more specifically)
beer; can of beer (more specifically); also general term for alcoholic beverage. In Spanish, "soup"
(literally "badge") tattoo; the police; a person's graffiti tag
ponerse al alba
"to put oneself to the dawn", to get with it
to get high on marijuana
ponte las pilas
get your stuff together
A knife, Gay, (homosexual) "eres Puñal"
a big punch.
"lit on", high on drugs; high on marijuana (most common)
to burn rubber (as in driving)
San Quentin prison
¿Quiubo? (Quíhubo, Qiobo. quióboles. Q-vo)
(from "Qué hubo" meaning "What was there?"} "What's going on?"; "What's up?"
car; lowrider car (more specifically)
"We rule" Also (to take) a chance; "nos la rifamos"
to rule, have superiority in a neighborhood, in a sport, or some territory
(literally: "old woman") girlfriend; woman
Oops! Some type of error.
Girlfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover
Boyfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover
(pronounced "San Ho") San Jose, California
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (archaic); San Quentin Prison (more common as only "Quilmas")
"to feel as an airman", to feel high or drunk
"seriously", for real (also spelled Cerio/a)
"Yeah", often combined with ese: simónese
slang for cocaine
southerner, street chapter of La eMe (or Mexican Mafia), associated with the color blue and the number 13.
(from shoe manufacturer "Stacey Adams") a brand of dress shoes favored by pachucos and swingers; a generic term for polished dress shoes
ta con madre
shortened form of "está con madre" (lit. "is with mom") the best, or something really good, outstanding.
(literally: "suit") zoot suit; fancy clothing
"to heel", to walk, also to con
(literally. "dark") derogatory reffering to an African-American
dancing your ass off
tirar la masa
(lit. "to throw corn dough") to defecate
tirarlo a león
(lit. "to ignore") to blow off, to forget about it
(lit. "to throw guts") to vomit
"jerry-rigged" or of inferior workmanship, (from the initials for Tijuana, a California border town where Americans go for cut-rate dentistry, auto body repair, and upholstry)
(lit. "twisted") jail time; locked up in prison (most specifically)
(lit. "cake") derogatory slang for a fat female
"to carry a tail", to be on parole
food, especially in large amounts. From tragar, "to swallow".
to cheat; to mess (someone) up
cigarette lighter, match
(lit. "trout") "Watch out"; smart; wise
to get along; to communicate
(also "un abro") a year's jail sentence
Rio Grande Valley, South Texas
grip (possibly derived from vise grip)
neighborhood or 'hood (misspelling or alternate spelling of barrio)
dude; guy; man
(lit. "mast", "pole"), "dick" "penis" "cock"
(lit. "old lady") girlfriend, wife
(lit. "to fly") to hurry
loose, sloppy, awkward in appearance
to watch, to look out for; also güachar
watch out! (interjection)
term for someone consuming large amounts of alcohol, an alcoholic
(also "yeska") marijuana. In Spanish, "a fungus to light fire".
"And what?"; "So (what)?" (used to question, add emphasis, or challenge someone)
" oh, shit"
I'm out, I bail out. (used when asking for volunteers); derived from/related to con safos (see above)
an outfit of male clothing consisting of large pants which become narrower towards the bottom, a stylish, a nice looking jacket which matches with the pants, and a long chain running from the pocket