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Before I dive into Venezuelan slang, you should be aware that Venezuela was a top destination for immigrants in 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.

“I didn’t come here for a history lesson, so why does this matter?”

Let me explain.

During the period I mentioned, people from all over the world arrived in Venezuela, bringing with them their traditions and unique ways of speaking. As a consequence, a lot of today’s Venezuelan slang is old, pre-existing slang with parts derived from English, Italian, French and even Arabic.

Today, we’re going to cover the most common slang that you need to know in order to speak like a true Venezuelano.

(If you’re a barisalcity.org student, then you recognize some the following slang since most of our tutors are from Venezuela.)

1) Chévere

Probably the most common Venezuelan slang word you’ll come across, this is generally a positive word, and can describe something as “nice” to “amazing”.

(this word is also seen in Colombian slang)

Estuvo chevere la reunión, te hace falta salir de la casa más seguido – The party was fine, you need to come outside more oftenMe siento chévere, ya se me ha pasado la gripe – I feel fine, the cold I had is mostly gone nowÉl es muy chévere, te va a encantar cuando lo conozcas – He’s super nice, you’re gonna love him when you meet him

2) Pana 

A noun and an adjective, meaning both “friend” and “friendly”

¿Conociste a Juan? Él es bien pana – Did you meet Juan? He’s super friendlyTengo varios panas que te pueden ayudar con eso, si quieres les puedo decir – I have a few friends that could help you out with that, I can tell them if you want

3) Chamo

An all-purpose alternative like “bro” or “dude” that you can use with both friends and strangers.

¡Chamo! Tiempo sin verte, ¿qué tal todo? – Dude! long time no see, how’s everything?

4) Si va! or Dale

“Alright!”, or an energetic alternative to “¡Claro!”, a quick way to make someone understand that you agree, or understood everything.

Si va! Nos vemos a las cinco entonces – Alright! See you at five then.

5) Fino/Fina 

Literally translates “fine”, used by Venezuelans as a “cool” word, additionally, in a very similar fashion to the “Si va!” above, it can be used to agree and leave off at the end of a conversation.

Está fina esa chaqueta, ¿puedo usarla? -That’s a pretty cool jacket, can I wear it?

6) Chimbo: Lousy, cheap, a bootleg, or generally bad, covers all the spectrum up until and including “sad”, but also boring, so you can use it with low-quality stuff, or that friend too lazy to something with the squad.

Este carro está bien chimbo, le hacen falta como 3 repuestos. – This car is in a pretty bad state, it’s needing around 3 replacement parts.Que chimbo eso, ¿necesitas ayuda con algo? – That’s really bad, do you need help with anything?Anímate, no seas chimbo – Come on, don’t be such a killjoy

7) Vaina

The most versatile and useful word across the entire Caribbean, because “vaina” can be anything, from objects to situations, equivalent to “thing”.

Pásame esa vaina que tienes ahí – Throw me that thing you have thereNo sé si pueda ir, me quedan varias vainas por hacer acá – I don’t know if I will be able to go, I still have some things to do here

8) Tal cual

“As it is”, an expression that just best translated as “just as it is”, if it’s able to be translated at all.

Si, el profesor me lo explicó así tal cual, pero no entendí – Yeah, the professor explained it to me just like that, but I didn’t understand

9) Burda

Really large quantities of something. Burda + de is used to emphasize the adjective in a similar way to “a lot” or “really”, depending on context.

No entiendo esta oración, está burda de confusa – I don’t understand this sentence, it’s really confusingHabía que limpiar muchísimo porque había burda de tierra por todos lados – We had to clean a lot because there were tons of dirt everywhere

10) Coroto

Although this word has a couple of meanings, it’s similar to “thing” and can refer to physical existing objects, usually channeled towards “trinkets” or “your stuff” when made plural. Alternatively, some people use this word to refer to the dishes or cooking utensils in a kitchen.

Remember to wash the dishes when you’re done eating – Recuerda lavar los corotos cuando termines de comerRecoge tus corotos, nos vamos mañana temprano – Pick up your stuff, we’re leaving early tomorrow
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11) Enratonado

“To be en-ratted”, sort of, no exact translation of this, however, the feeling of a hangover is something everyone understands around the globe.

Eso te pasa por tomar tanto, siempre amaneces enratonado. – That’s what you get for drinking so much, you always wake up with a hangover

12) Arrecho

Arrecho can mean “angry” or “furious”, but it can also mean “awesome,” or “amazing”. The word “arrechisimo” is used when something is reall, really awesome, or someone is really, really mad.

Confusing, right? Normally the context will help you determine what the intent of the person speaking is.

No lo sigas molestando, que es muy fácil hacer que se ponga arrecho – Stop bothering him, it’s really easy to piss him offLa película estuvo arrechisima – The movie was extremely good

(sidenote: In Colombia this word has a completely different meaning – to have a boner)

12) Ladilla

The literal meaning for this word a “crab”, but this is Venezuelan slang for someone or something that is extremely annoying.

No seas ladilla, deja de preguntar lo mismo – Don’t being so annoying, stop asking the same thing over and over

13) Ladillado

Being annoyed, bored or tired of a repeating situation: all of these situations represent ladillado.

El ruido de la construcción ya me tiene ladillado – I’m so done with the noise of that construction

14) Macundales

Similar to “coroto”. The origin of this word goes back to the beginnings of oil extraction. It turns out that the foreign companies that exploited the oil in Venezuela used tools of the American brand “Mack and Dale”. When the working day ended, the Venezuelan workers made sure they had collected “all the macundales” – used to refer to these tools. Nowadays it’s used to talk about “things” or “stuff” generally related to suitcases and luggage.

 ¡Agarra tus macundales! ¡Nos vamos! – Pick up your stuff! We are leaving!

15) Un pelo

“A single hair (of)” is a really good way to talk about a small amount or level of something.

Déjame descansar un pelo, estoy agotado – Let me rest for a bit, I’m exhausted

16) Cotufas

This means “popcorn” in Venezuela. It comes from the English sacks of corns which have an inscription “corn to fry”.

¿Podemos comprar cotufas ante de ver la película? – Can we buy popcorn before watching the movie?

17) Pela Bolas

Also seen as “pelabola”, this Venezuelan slang is reserved for a person that’s not necessarily going through his best moment, perhaps due to a lack of cash or luck.

No creo que pueda salir a comer mañana, estoy pelando bolas esta semana – I don’t think I’ll be able to go out and eat with you tomorrow, I’m not going to have a penny this entire week

18) Echar los perros

In some countries this slang considered harassment or threat, but in Venezuela and Colombia, it means to woo or try to court a person you like.

No sabía que le estabas echando los perros a ella – I didn’t know you were hitting on her

19) Mamarracho

Most Venezuelans will laugh when they hear you use this slang. This word is generally used to describe a ridiculous thing or person, maybe some who is overly extravagant, poorly dressed or simply, very weird.

It actually comes from an arabic word “muharrig”, which means buffoon or clown.

Additionally, derived from it, you can also hear the word mamarrachada which is used to describe poorly made items, as well as actions. In this case, it’s lighter term with more comedic intent.

No parar de reírme cuando vi a ese mamarracho en la televisión – I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw that weird dude on TVLe encanta andar haciendo mamarrachadas – He loves to go around doing silly stuff

20) Musiú

This word comes directly from the French word “Monsieur” meaning “Mister” (but in French). It’s how Venezuelans used to call strangers from Europe, even thought “gringo” has become a really popular word for referring to foreigners – whether they’re from North America or Europe, from time to time you will also hear “musiú”.

Hoy conocí a un musiú que me pidió direcciones, tenía un acento raro – I met a foreigner today that asked me for directions, he had a really weird accent

21) Muérgano

The word “moranger” (a member of a crew of pirates) was later “Venezuelanized” as “muérgano” and it used to describe someone who acts with bad or evil intentions. Nowadays, it’s more lighthearted and mostly used as a term for kids.

Ese niño es un muérgano, mira como se ríe – That kid is a little rascal, look at how he laughs

22) Guachimán

Although “vigilante” is the correct word for a security guard, Venezuelans prefer to use this word which is similar to “watchman”.

Dile al guachimán que te deje entrar – Tell the watchman to let you in

23) Jeva

Not quite something to be throwing around, this is a not-so-kind term for a woman, more specifically one who is in a relationship. It’s generally used as “someone’s girl” (la jeva de alguien).

Pensé que ibas a venir con tu jeva – I thought you’d come with your girl

24) ¡Si Luis!

A sarcastic “Yeah suuure”. A pretty direct way to tell someone you don’t believe a word they’re saying.

¡Si luis! Como si no me hubieses dicho eso antes – Yeah sure, as if you hadn’t told me that before

25) Echarse los palos

To go out and have a few drinks (even if it becomes more than a few).

¿Vas a venir el sábado a echarte unos palos con nosotros? – So are you coming on Saturday and drink a few?

26) ¡Taima!

“Pause!” or “Stop!”. This word is a quick and harmless way to stop an action or maybe someone talking, and collect your thoughts. It is used mostly by children when playing.

Taima, taima, ¿qué dijiste hace rato? – Wait a second, hold on, what did you say a while ago?

27) Bululú

A “bululú”, simply put, is a disorganized crowd or a place so full of people that it could be comfortable.

¿Y ese bululú que hay allá qué es? – What’s up with all those people over there?

28)Guachafa

“Guachafa” or “guachafita” as it’s most commonly seen is a disorder, a complete overlooking of rules at a certain place or event, like a riot or more accurately a racket.

Bueno, siéntense y dejen la guachafita, que hasta allá se escucha – Come on and sit down, stop this mess, they can hear you over there

29) Choro

Hopefully you never come across one, but “choro” is a word for a petty criminal, only dedicated to stealing and mugging people for their valuables.

A Roberto un choro le quitó el teléfono y no tiene cómo comunicarse. – Roberto got his phone robbed and has no way to communicate now

30) Cuaima

An overly jealous girlfriend, the kind that won’t let your friend go out at night, check his cell phone and block girls from his social media account, spooky.

Juan por fin se consiguió una novia, pero es demasiado cuaima – Juan finally got a girlfriend, but she’s way too jealous

31) Ñapa

Literally the “bonus” or “extra”, used for money, food, or any item you can do with a little more of.

El jefe me pagó mi sueldo con algo de ñapa por conseguirle ese cliente – My boss gave me my salary with a little extra for finding that client

32) Pea

If you were wondering about the consequences of one too many “palos”, this is Venezuelan slang for being completely hammered.

Miguel carga una pea, lleva bebiendo desde ayer – Miguel is completely wasted, he’s been drinking since yesterday

33) Ratón

The inevitable aftermath of a “pea” is the hangover that follows.

Amanecí con demasiado ratón – I woke up with such a hangover

34) Pavoso

Someone who is or has lately been particularly unlucky, and it is believed that the person who also brings bad luck to those who surround him.

Tu si andas pavoso hoy – Wow you’ve been really unlucky today

35) Pichirre

The kind of person who is not willing to share, or give in general (aka stingy). Also used for someone who is dishonest.

No seas pichirre, comparte un poquito que tengo hambre – Don’t be so stingy, share a bit, I’m hungry

36) Pilas

Both “be careful” and “smart” in the same word, one given as a warning and the second as a description of someone who catches things with relative quickness.

Pilas con ese cuchillo, lo afilé hoy – Be careful with that knife now, I sharpened it todayTu primo es muy pilas, a mi hermano le costó una semana entender ese tema en matemática. – Your cousin is really smart, my brother took an entire week to understand that math problem.

37) Quedao

Quite the opposite to the previous, literally translating “lagging”, is someone who is slow to understand, commonly used for those who don’t get jokes or social cues.

Tu si eres quedao, ella lleva tiempo tratando de decirte algo – You’re so slow, she’s been trying to tell you something for a while now

38) Sacar la piedra

To completely get on someone’s nerves, similar to “to pop a vein”, try not to get anyone using this around you.

Me saca la piedra que sigan haciendo ruido a esta hora – It really bothers me that they keep making noise at this hour

39) Sifrino

A snobby kind of person who buys all of the most expensive brands, yet probably haven’t worked a day in his/her life.

See more: What Are The Characteristics Of A Good Definition In Geometry ?

Había un grupo de sifrinas en el centro comercial – There was a group of snobby girls in the mall

40) Guircho

Coming from the English expression “wild child”, a “guircho” is a badly socially-behaved person, rude and inconsiderate. It’s mostly used in the western part of the country.

Ese hombre si era guircho – That man was really rude

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