Puerto Rico Slang

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Puerto Rico Slang

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Who doesn't love inventing new slang and getting it absorbed into popular culture? New slang terms and slang phrases pop up every day in Puerto Rico, and there are a few commonly used words that will make your stay in this city a little more interesting. If you learn a little Puerto Rico slang, like "Vamos de jangueo al...," you may even find out what the hottest local spot is.

People in Puerto Rico love creating new slang so much that getting colloquialisms into the Diccionario Real de la Academia Espa–ola, or the Royal Spanish Academy's Dictionary, is practically a national pastime. Words like "hamburguesas" (hamburgers) and "beisbol" (baseball) and other "Spanglish" (Spanish-English) misappropriations are the most commonly used terms, but other popular terms are purely invented or evolutions of phrases and words used by the indigenous Taino people. Here is a little Puerto Rico local lingo you will definitely hear while on vacation on this fabulous island.


1. "Pichear" - This word literally means "to pitch," as in to throw a ball, but it is commonly used to mean "ignore," "forget" or "snub." You will hear "pichear" in a sentence like "Ese sucio me piche-," or "That jerk ignored me." Or you might say "El es feo; pichealo," or "He is ugly; forget him." Of course, in the context of a "beisbol" game it simply means to pitch.

2. "Tirar" - "Tirar" literally translates as "throw," but in Puerto Rico slang, it is also used as a descriptive word to say you are going to hit on someone. You might hear it used by a girl who says, "Le voy a tirar a ese muchacho," or "I'm going to hit on that guy." Unfortunately, this word is also used in a variety of situations and contexts, including meaning to shoot someone ("le voy a tirar a ese cabr-n"), so you may want to avoid using it unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are saying. Otherwise, you might get your "trasero" (butt) kicked.

3. "Tiraera" - Tiraera sounds a lot like tirar, but it is used in only one situation: to talk badly about someone. "Tiraera" is often used to describe the verbal feuds between rival hip hop and rap singers. It can also be used as an exclamation when someone starts gossiping or talking trash about someone while pretending to be a friend.

4. "Janguiar" or "Janguear" - "Vamos de jangueo" (present tense), is a Puerto Rico slang term you will definitely hear while in Boriquen (the native Taino word for Puerto Rico), especially if you hang out in the popular bars in Viejo San Juan. It is usually screamed from one side of the room to another while different "corillos," or groups of friends, pass each other at huge parties like the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian. "Janguiar," sometimes spelled "janguear", means "to hang out."

5. "Nebuloso" - This odd slang term is a descriptive word that literally means "foggy." In Puerto Rico local language, it is used to describe things that are untrustworthy. It can be used to describe a person ("El es medio nebuloso," meaning "He's kind of untrustworthy") or an event or place ("La Perla me da miedo, ese sitio es nebuloso," meaning ÒLa Perla scares me, that place is iffy.")

6. "Ámeraaa y to'?!" - This exclamation is usually heard screeched at the end of some juicy tidbit of "bochinche," or gossip. It literally makes absolutely no sense but what it means is "Oh, my gosh! I can't believe it! This is so much juicier than I expected! Tell me more."

7. "Àque es la que?" - I'm sure you've heard friends greet each other with "What's up?" That's "que es la que," a shortened version of "Àque es la que hay?," or literally "what is it that's happening?" You can't mess this one up, and it's safe to use on anyone under the age of 30 or so. And yes, only the first "que" has an accent.

8. "Pato/a" - "Pato" (masculine version) or "pata" (feminine version) is an offensive term for gay or lesbian people. It comes from the word "pato" which means "duck" and is used to describe the stereotypically pushed-out-rear walk of some effeminate gay men. It is considered to be extremely offensive, so if someone calls you a "pato," they are looking for a fight.

9. "Cerrucho" - People "montan un cerrucho" (mount a cerrucho) when everyone is broke. Basically, it's Puerto Rico local lingo for donating money to a particular cause, whatever the cause might be. For example, your "corillo" (group of friends) might have a "cerrucho" so that everyone donates $2 or $3 to buy a pizza and soda for everyone to share at the midnight beach picnic.

10. "Fresa" - A "fresa" is literally a "strawberry" - but in Puerto Rico lingo it is also a very silly, superficial, childlike girl or woman who enjoys pop music. This is used as both an insult and as a positive descriptive term. When used as an insult, it means the person is immature and silly. As a compliment, it means the person is innocent, naive and childlike. It can also be used as a backhanded compliment.
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