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

a ponemos chancla

(from chancla, Nahuatl for sandal) "Let's dance". The grammar is deliberately incorrect.

águila

(lit. "eagle") "Be alert"

aliviane

a form of help "Aliviáname - help me"

aguas

"to be alert, be careful". ¡Agua! ("Water!) is the cry of sellers of dodgy items when police are spotted.

Araisas

Arizona

A.T.M.

a toda madre - great, fantastic, out of sight (expression antedates the abbreviation for "automated teller machine")

 B

baika: bicycle

baro

coin, money.

bironga

beer, booze

borracho

A drunk or someone on a bender.

bolillo

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.

bola

A dollar. "Prestame una bola." "Lend me a dollar."

bomba

(also "bomb") a lowrider car or truck from the 1930s - mid-1950s

bote

(literally: "can") jail or prison; also, a lid of marijuana.

borlo

dance, party. "Vamos al borlo." "Let's go to the dance/party."

bronca

trouble or a problem with someone else

Burque

a contraction of the old spelling of Albuquerque, New Mexico (Originally spelled "Alburquerque").

 

 C

cabulear

to "bullshit"; to "chew the fat with"

Caile

Come here, go any where

Cali

California (also "Kali")

Califas

California. In standard Spanish, it means "caliphs".

calcos

shoes

Calecia

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%).

Caló

a language used by Chicanos or Mexican-Americans, derived from the name of the Spanish Gypsy (gitano) dialect, Caló

canicas

(lit. marbles) love; , genitals(male); also "andar a canicas"(walking around naked).

cantón

home; house; apartment

carnal

brother; close friend; homeboy, from primo carnal, "first-grade cousin." (also "karnal")

careja

all at once, burdon, blows

Carrucha

Car, Your Ride (related to "carro," car)

Carrujo

joint, marijuana cigarette

cagua

beer (related to Mexican slang for large beer, "caguama," literally "giant turtle")

catos

fistfight, fisticuffs

chafa

low quality

chale

expresses disagreement, "no way"; antonym of simón

chavala

(from Gypsy/Gitano Calo) little girl; also used as an insult for a man that lacks courage

chavalo

(from Gypsy/Gitano Calo, related to Mexican Spanish "chavo") little boy

chela

beer

chevere

cool. smooth. awesome. Possible Central American origin

chido

cool. awesome. "que chido wey" "esta chida la rola"

chingazo

a punch or a kick delivered during a fight or brawl

chorra

penis

chota

cops, police

clecha

school, class

clica

clique, social group, gang (also "klika")

con safos

(frequently abbreviated as "c/s") "Nobody can mess with this" (likely from Arabic-derived Spanish zafo = unobstructed, clear, safe, intact)

coco

bruise, cut, scrape, head, wound of some sort.

cuete

gun (from cohete = rocket)

 

 D

dalass

Dallas, Texas

dale gas

step on it, go for it

de aquellas

(lit. "from those over there") "the best"

descuéntate

beat it, get lost

descuéntatelo

hit him

descontar

to hit, irregular conjugation (descuento, descuentas, descuenta, descuentan, descontamos)

dispensa

(also 'spensa)excuse me(?)

drapes

syn. for "zoot suit" (see below), originating in 1930s Harlem African American for stylish clothing;

 

 E

East Los

East Los Angeles, California

echa la cookie

fast, as in running fast

El Pasiente

El Paso

El Chuco

El Paso

El Valluco

Rio Grande Valley, Texas

El Footdale

see machin

empanzonar

impregnate

ene

short for Norteño

ena

short for Norteña

enjaular

to lock up. Standard Spanish.

entacucharse

to dress up, more specifically, to wear a tuxedo or suit

escamado

scared. Standard Spanish.

escuelín

school

esquina

help, give a hand

esquinar

help out.

ésa

a girl

ése

a guy (lit. "that one", "that guy")

esponjes

lie as in no esponges ese

esponjes

angry, as in no te esponges == "don't get angry"

 

 F

fajates

blew it

feria

money (literally "fair", as in "county fair," but references the homonym "fare" as a bilingual pun)

filero

knife. Spanish filo means "edge".

firme

cool (as in "hip"); good. In standard Spanish, "firm".

frajo

cigarette

fresa

prep

fusca

gun

 

 G

gabacho/a

(also "gavacho") insulting term for a white person. Related to Mexican Spanish slang for the United States, "el gabo" (In Spain, "Frenchman").

gacho

unfortunate, inappropriate, or cruel (possibly from Basque "gaizto")

gasofas

Gas, Petrol

Good nuff

Half-ass bullshit, work ethic

grifa

marijuana (whence the US slang word "reefer"; derived from "grifo")

grifo

(lit. "faucet") marijuana addict; someone who is always "prendido", or "lit"

güacha

(also "wacha" or "wachale") "Look"; "Watch"

güaino

Wino

güero

(also "huero" or "weddo") white person; light skinned, blue eyed/blond person

güisa

(also "wisa" and "weesa") woman; girlfriend

güey

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")

 

 H

homeboy

(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

homes

(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

hyna

a girl, or girlfriend

 

 J

jaina

(also spelled "hyna", "heina", and "hayna") woman; honey; girlfriend

jale

a job

jefa/jefita

mother

jefe/jefito

(lit. "boss") father

jura

police

 

 L

lacra

low life individual

lambache

suck ass

lambiscón

suck ass

lana

(lit. "wool") money

la neta

"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".

lanzar chingadazos

throw blows

laquiar

to lock

leño

marijuana cigarette. In Spanish, "wood block".

leva

coward

llantas

(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")

llevanate

behave, be cool, chill out

litro

cigarette lighter

lisa

shirt

loc

(pronounced "loke") short for "loco"; a street crazy; hardcore street tough, also maddogs or heavily tinted sunglasses

locochón

crazy

Longos/Longeros

Long Beach, CA The strongest gang in Long Beach, CA, part of the South Side structure controlled by the Mexican Mafia

Los

Los Angeles, CA

 

 M

machín

excellent, high-achieving, outstanding

manflora

(also manfi) derogatory for lesbian, dyke

máscara

face. In Spanish, "mask".

mayate/mayata

derogatory for a dark-skinned male/female, usually African American; der. from mayatl (Nahuatl) an irridescent black scarab

mayatero

someone who tries to "act black" such as by saying the word nigga,

mexa

from a Mexican origin

miclo

light-skinned Mexican

mojado

wetback. Any immigrant crossing the Rio Grande river (mostly Mexican). Literally, "wet".

Monda: penis

mono

movie

mono

the devil; demon. Literally "monkey".

mota

slang for marijuana (possibly from Seminole "mota" meaning tobacco; in Mexican Spanish, mota means "speck")

 

 N

naranjas

no. Literally "oranges". In Spain the phrase "naranjas de la China" means "no way".

narices

no. Literally "noses". In Spain the phrase would be "y unas narices".

negro/a

(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

nel

no

nikle

Pronounced "nee-kleh." Five cents.

no manches

don't mess around

no hay pedo

no problem; no sweat

Norte Califas

Northern California

Norteño

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

 

 O

Órale

"Right on"; "Alright!"

Ojete

asshole [example: ya no seas ojete]

Oklas

Oklahoma City or 405 used mainly by SSVL 25

 

 P

Pachuco

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

pano/paño

a style of art, with drawings or paintings made in prison, on handkerchiefs (literally "handkerchief")

panocha

pussy

pancho

(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"

panzón

fat man. Standard Spanish, compare English paunch.

panzona

fat woman; pregnant woman

pásame las tres

Literally, "pass me the three". "Let me have a drag" (of a cigarette)

pase

slang for cocaine

pedo

(literally "fart") intoxicated; 'estar pedo'

pedo

problem; 'no hay pedo'

pendejo

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.

perico

slang for cocaine

perromount/pussymount

paramount=smallest city in L.A. County

perrucha

very difficult; female trouble-maker (related to "perra," meaning female dog or bitch)

pestaña

(lit. eyelash) sleep

pestañear

to sleep

phoeniquera

slang for Phoenix, Arizona

picaste

did you "get" some (from Sp. picar, to poke)

pinta

jail; prison (more specifically)

pintar paredes

to masturbate

pisto

beer; can of beer (more specifically); also general term for alcoholic beverage. In Spanish, "soup"[1]

placa

(literally "badge") tattoo; the police; a person's graffiti tag

ponerse al alba

"to put oneself to the dawn", to get with it

ponerse zafado

to get high on marijuana

ponte las pilas

get your stuff together

Poros

Porterville Califas

Puñal

A knife, Gay, (homosexual) "eres Puñal"

Puto

Gay individual

putazo

a big punch.

prendido

"lit on", high on drugs; high on marijuana (most common)

 

 Q

¿qué onda?

"what's up?"

quemar llanta

to burn rubber (as in driving)

Quilmas

San Quentin prison

¿Quiubo? (Quíhubo, Qiobo. quióboles. Q-vo)

(from "Qué hubo" meaning "What was there?"} "What's going on?"; "What's up?"

 

 R

ranfla

car; lowrider car (more specifically)

rifamos

"We rule" Also (to take) a chance; "nos la rifamos"

rifar

to rule, have superiority in a neighborhood, in a sport, or some territory

refin

food

refinando

eating

refinar

to eat

rola

song

ruca

(literally: "old woman") girlfriend; woman

ruco

Old man

 

 S

Sacra

Sacramento, CA

safis

Oops! Some type of error.

Salas

Salinas, CA

Sancha

Girlfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover

Sancho

Boyfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover

San Jo

(pronounced "San Ho") San Jose, California

San Anto

San Antonio, Texas

San Fran

San Francisco

San Pipas

San Pedro

San Quilmas

San Antonio, Texas (archaic); San Quentin Prison (more common as only "Quilmas")

saurucha

saw

sentirse aviador

"to feel as an airman", to feel high or drunk

Serio/a

"seriously", for real (also spelled Cerio/a)

simón

"Yeah", often combined with ese: simónese

soda

slang for cocaine

soflamera

whiner

songas

songs

Swata

Idiot

Sur Califas

Southern California

Sureño

southerner, street chapter of La eMe (or Mexican Mafia), associated with the color blue and the number 13.

Estéicis

(from shoe manufacturer "Stacey Adams") a brand of dress shoes favored by pachucos and swingers; a generic term for polished dress shoes

 

 T

ta con madre

shortened form of "está con madre" (lit. "is with mom") the best, or something really good, outstanding.

tacuche

(literally: "suit") zoot suit; fancy clothing

talonear

"to heel", to walk, also to con

tecato

heroin addict

tinto

(literally. "dark") derogatory reffering to an African-American

tirando chancla

dancing your ass off

tira

police

tirar la masa

(lit. "to throw corn dough") to defecate

tirarlo a león

(lit. "to ignore") to blow off, to forget about it

tirar tripa

(lit. "to throw guts") to vomit

TJ

"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)

toleco

Fify-cent piece.

torcido

(lit. "twisted") jail time; locked up in prison (most specifically)

torta

(lit. "cake") derogatory slang for a fat female

tortilla

lesbian

traer cola

"to carry a tail", to be on parole

tragazón

food, especially in large amounts. From tragar, "to swallow".

tramos

pants

trinquetiar

to cheat; to mess (someone) up

trola

cigarette lighter, match

trucha

(lit. "trout") "Watch out"; smart; wise

tubos

"tubes". Socks

turiquear

to get along; to communicate

 

 U

un Abril

(also "un abro") a year's jail sentence

 

 V

valluco

Rio Grande Valley, South Texas

vasquear

to vomit

vaisa

grip (possibly derived from vise grip)

varrio

neighborhood or 'hood (misspelling or alternate spelling of barrio)

vato

dude; guy; man

verga

(lit. "mast", "pole"), "dick" "penis" "cock"

vieja

(lit. "old lady") girlfriend, wife

volar

(lit. "to fly") to hurry

 

 W

wango

loose, sloppy, awkward in appearance

Wachar

to watch, to look out for; also güachar

Wáchale

watch out! (interjection)

Watson

Watsonville, CA

weso

westside

Wilmas

Wilmington, CA

wilo, güilo

skinny

wilo, güilo

male prostitute

wino

term for someone consuming large amounts of alcohol, an alcoholic

 

 Y

yesca

(also "yeska") marijuana. In Spanish, "a fungus to light fire".

yonka

bike

¿Y qué?

"And what?"; "So (what)?" (used to question, add emphasis, or challenge someone)

"ay wey"

" oh, shit"

 

 Z

zafado

goofy

zafo

I'm out, I bail out. (used when asking for volunteers); derived from/related to con safos (see above)

zoot suit

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