Slang from Peru (Peruvian colloquialisms)

Slang from Peru (Peruvian colloquialisms)

As any student of Spanish soon realizes, there can be a variety of words for the same object in various Spanish speaking countries. Likewise, the slang and colloquialisms vary from country to country. Some of the slang from Mexico is more likely to reach other parts of Latin America, due to the Mexican entertainment industry being far more reaching. Furthermore many of the English movies are overdubbed with Mexican Spanish.

To learn the slang from other countries, you basically have to spend time there. This blog post is a list of Peruvian slang that I have “collected” from my time spent in Peru. It is hardly exhaustive, and I doubt it is 100% accurate. Please feel free to suggest corrections, clarifications, or add to the list by posting your comment below.

I am also sure that some of these slang words aren’t exclusive to Peru, but I am told that many of them are.

WARNING: The R-rated slang is towards the bottom of the list.

First off, the word for slang in Spanish is jerga, which also means “jargon”.

La chacra

This means farm. They don’t use granja here, which is the word for farm that I was taught.

De chacra a olla
This is a little phrase for farmer’s market, which are becoming more and more popular in Peru. The phrase literally means, from the farm to the frying pan. In other words, no middle man.

Nos vidrios

This is a play on the phrase “nos vemos”, or “See ya later”.

Chalfa
This is a fried rice dish that is on the menu of any Chifa restaurant. First off, Chifa is a Chinese/Peruvian fusion that is very popular in Peru. There are Chifa restaurants practically everywhere in the larger cities. The fried rice dish called “chalfa” sounds like the common slang for goodbye throughout Latin America, “chau”, which comes from Italian. So for fun, people say “chalfa” to mean “chau” or “goodbye”. When a gringo says it, for some reason it is especially funny!

Paltearse = To be confused

Compadrito
Looks like compadre but used for someone you don’t know well, or someone who is trying, or has tried, to rip you off.

Chelas
This is a slang word for beer. If you want to impress the locals, use this word instead of “cerveza”.

Chelear
This is the verb form for drinking beer.

Empujarse
This is the verb to push, but in this reflexive sense, it means to stuff food down your mouth, like you are pushing it down. “Me empujé tres” (I ate three, or stuffed three down my mouth.)

Jamear = To eat

Jato
This is a word for “house”, more used, I am told, in Lima. If you fall asleep at home, instead of going out, you would tell your friends “me quedé jato”.

¡Mostro! 
This is an older school word for “awesome”, “rad”.

¡Bacán!
This is the newer school version of “awesome”. Maybe it would be the equivalent of “sick”!

¡Asu!
Another term for “awesome” which comes from the phrase “a su madre” which also means “wow, awesome”. Asu is a shortened version of that phrase.

En caleta
When you want to do something in secret, like sneak out to meet your special friend without your parents knowing, you would do it “en caleta”, in secret.

Es zanahoria
It’s carrot! This means cool, in the laid back sense, equivalent to tranquilo and used to describe a thing or event. You can use this to describe another person not present but only with someone you are really close to. You wouldn’t however use it in response to “How are you?”. Tranquilo is a better response to that question.

Flaco, Flaca
This is slang for “novio” or “novia” which means boyfriend/girlfriend. It is common to call your boyfriend/girlfriend, “mi flaco/flaca”. This term also implies affection for the person. It’s not an insult in the sense of calling someone skinny, weak or lazy, which is what the word means in normal Spanish.

Germa
This is a common word for “mujer”. Mujer, the word for lady, is used throughout Latin America, as a replacement for wife. A man will commonly refer to his wife (or partner, whether married or not) as “mi mujer”. However, a woman never refers to her husband as “mi hombre” for some reason. So “germa” is used in this sense, when a man refers to his wife or partner. It is not affectionate or a term of endearment.

Un choque y fuga
Choque is a crash, and fuga comes from the verb fugar, which means to fly or run away. This phrase is slang for a one-night stand. It can refer to the stand itself or the person with whom the stand was stood.

Estar hasta el queso
To be up to the cheese! This means to be overwhelmed by life, work, family, stressed out, maxed out of energy, etc. It’s a negative reply to “How’s it going?”

WATCH OUT! HERE COMES THE SHIT!

So like most Spanish speaking countries, there are lots of slang expressions revolving around “poop”. Here are the ones that, I have been told, are common in Peru.

cagar = to shit (this is an official Spanish word, not slang)

From cagar comes these phrases, not all of which are vulgar:
Me voy a meter una cagada = I’m going to take a shit
¡Me cagaste! = You’re shitting me!
¿Me cagas? = Do you understand me?
¿Me estás cagando? = Are you listening to me?
Me estás cagando. = You’re screwing around with me.
¡Qué cagada! = How fucked up!

Another slang for excellent or awesome, which may be a little on the vulgar side:
De la puta madre, or for short, de la p.m.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’m sure I will be adding more and updating this list as time goes on. If you are planning to come to Peru, now you will be prepared to fit in and mingle with the locals.

Here’s a link to another nice article on the Peruvian slang.

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