Cool English & Spanish Words Used In Spain
So you want to be cool? Not an easy feat for anyone, least of all when speaking in another language. But if you want to be liked, accepted and popular… then you may have to look a little bit further than this article…
But luckily, there are a multitude of words that can help you at least sound more informal and a little less like a guiri (tourist) in Spain: many of which you are unlikely to learn in a classroom (because they’re that cool).
Slang in any language is pragmatic. It helps to develop a conversational, and less textbook, style of communication and, ultimately, maintain a more comfortable way of speaking. No matter where you are in the world, you almost certainly have encountered a myriad of colloquial English words, both within your borders and across seas. Discovering these words isn’t just amusing: it helps to destruct any language barriers with your international friends.
So if you also want to imbue your Spanish vocabulary with more jerga (slang), check out this cool collection of Spanish and English words spoken in Spain below:
Undoubtedly, you will hear this everywhere in Spain. It literally means “cool”.
Derived from the verb molar which is synonymous of gustar (to like), it is almost interchangeable with guay, but restricted to the taste or approval of something.
Whether you studied Spanish the Hispanic or Latino way, you have probably encountered this euphonic word already. If used to describe a person, it takes on a very negative connotation, usually implying that the person is insolent, or even a pimp. However if you call someone’s dress chulo, it translates to lovely, or even beautiful. So use this one wisely.
They say there’s no use crying over spilt milk, but in Spanish there just might be. In Spain milk is more than just a nourishing liquid; leche is so versatile that it can be very cool or very vulgar. For example:
A malaleche – is to do something with bad intentions.
Ser la leche – in this case the meaning spins 180. Something or someone who es la leche (is the milk) is incredible or extraordinary.
Cagarse en la leche – this literally translates to “defecating on the milk” (I did warn you it might get vulgar!) If you hear someone use this expression, they are either very angry or disgusted.
A very colloquial word used to describe a tourist or non-Spaniard. However, opinions differ as to whether it is politically correct: it is also associated with tourists who are, at times, insensitive to the language or cultural barriers.
This is typically used to describe a person or neighbourhood that is considered posh e.g. John es muy pijo (John is very posh).
English Is Cool Too
With the rise of globalisation, it’s no surprise to hear English words, otherwise known as Anglicisms, adopted by the Spanish language: el email, el básket, el hippy; ratify such language integrations. In fact English words are so popular that many company slogans are created or preserved in English e.g. Rimmel London’s ‘Get the London Look’. In some rare cases, the word is not only adopted, but takes on an entirely new meaning once it reaches its destination. Here are just a few examples you could encounter:
Let’s start with the example: Tengo feeling contigo, in other words, “I have feeling with you”. This arrangement may seem a little odd, but it is used to express a strong attraction to someone; teetering somewhere between like and love.
Here the word look is synonymous with “style” or “dress-sense”. You will find, particularly in Metropolitan cities, Spanish clothing stores and fashion enthusiasts use this fabulous word to identify a type of ensemble. For example:
Me gusta mucho el look – I really like the style.
Similarly to the word guay, it is used to describe something or someone that is “cool”, such as este juego está muy heavy(this games is really cool). But it also has the adjectival sense to exclaim surprise or disbelief like, “that’s crazy!” Or, que heavy!
This, colourful word, expresses how someone is the best in what they do, particularly with reference to sports players. So if someone calls you a crack, don’t take offense, they are actually paying you a huge compliment!
Cool, Calm & Colloquial
So there you have it. 10 colloquial words to loosen up your Spanish lexicon. As aforementioned, these words are primarily used within Spain, so their meaning and usage could drastically change depending on where you are in the world. Guay, for example, is ubiquitous in Spain, but within South America the words, copado, bacán or chévere are a lot more common. This variation is to be expected when over 450 million people in various continents speak Spanish, but all you need to do for clarification is ask the locals.
For more Spanish street slang check out this video!
Taking the time to familiarise yourself with colloquial Spanish words will certainly help you feel more prepared to converse with the locals. And, if you get really good, someone could be calling you a crack in no time!