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Whether it’s a short visit or an international move, knowing the ins and outs of local life is important while traveling. Everything from street slang to most common greetings, these Colombian expressions will help you get around like a local and meld with the culture.

Colombian Expressions
Photo by Leonardo Jimenez

Greetings 

Colombians are not lacking in vocabulary seeing as these pretty much ALL translate to some variation of the English phrase: What’s up?

¿Qué más (pues)?

¿Quiubo pues m’ijo?

¿Qué tal?

¿Bien o no?

¿Bien o qué?

¿Qué más parce?

¿Qué tal parcero(a)?

¿Qué más socio(a)?

People

Colombian Expressions
Photo by Jessica Suarez

Pelado(a) – a typical young person

Culicagado – brat, or more commonly used to refer to kids in general

Parce – dude, buddy, pal, mate

Parcero(a) – masculine/feminine specification of parce

Vieja – an informal term for a woman, e.g. girl or chick

**as a slang term this does not indicate older age

Man – an informal term for a man, typically one you don’t know well, e.g. dude or guy

Huevon – Idiot, stupid

Useful Expressions

Colombian Expressions

Dar papaya – put yourself at risk or ‘be asking for it’

¡Pilas! – to draw someone’s attention to something

Me da pena – (something) embarrasses/ashames me

¡Qué pena! – I’m sorry! / What a shame!

Qué pena contigo/ con usted – I’m sorry, usually expressing empathy or regret

Finca – a country house

**direct translation is ‘farm’ but more often refers to a house outside the city

Colombian Expressions
Photo by Iain Maciver

¡Qué nota! – Cool!

Bacano(a) – Cool, the adjective

Parchar/ el parche – to hang out/ a group hangout or ‘crew’

Conchudo – to be a freeloader or cheapskate

Mamar gallo – to joke around or ‘pull someone’s leg’

Guaro – Colloquial name for the typical anise Antioquian liquor “aguardiente”

Echar los perros – to flirt with or ‘hit on someone’

Rumbear/ la rumba – to go out partying/ the party

Estoy enguayabado(a)/ tener guayabo – I’m hungover/ to be hungover

¡Qué pereza! – to say that something is boring or unpleasant to do

Maluco(a) – bad or unpleasant in some way

¡Gas!/ ¡Guácala! – Gross!

Photo: Hubert Gajewski

So whether you are at the level of ‘me da pena’ when you speak Spanish or you are pro enough to ‘mamar gallo’ with your ‘parceros’ it’s always helpful to learn the local jargon to maximize your Colombian experience.

Common Colombian Phrases to use on your Colombia Trip. Colombian Slang. Travel

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