Know the meaning and origin of some of the most colloquial phrases of the Venezuelan dialect that often confuse foreigners.
When we talk about the culture of a country we do not only refer to its traditions, the typical festivities or the gastronomy. One point that can truly identify a person’s nationality is the use of language, accent and slang words of that country.
Of all the Spanish speaking countries, a very particular one in this sense is Venezuela. Located to the north of South America, since colonial times it has been a receiver of immigrants from all over the world, a fact that would be accentuated between 1960 and 1990 with the oil boom and the freedom of exchange of that time making it one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America.
Although today, that has changed drastically; the influence of multiple cultures that settled in the country, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Arab, Chinese, African and Asian have achieved a cultural crossbreeding that gave way to particular and very interesting phrases and words that for years have identified Venezuelan slang.
In addition to its iconic natural landscapes, Venezuela enjoys a unique language that at first glance may confuse a foreigner, even from other Spanish speaking countries. However, the warmth of its inhabitants will make you feel at home.
In this article you will learn how some of the most popular phrases in Venezuelan slang came about and what they mean.
The Importance of Understanding Venezuelan Slang
In all countries, there are phrases and terms that identify their idiosyncrasy, in the Venezuelan case most of these phrases can be applied in different situations, and only by knowing the context we could understand.
For example, in Venezuelan slang there are words that can mean to be annoyed or happy depending on the context in which they are used, others can mean an insult or a compliment, so, as you may have noticed, it is very important to know how to use each one of these phrases correctly, to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
As a point in favor of Venezuelans, is that they are very aware of how crazy their words are and when they relate or interact with a foreigner they are very kind and willing to help you understand.
Even within the same country there are regions with totally different dialects and accents, with particular words and a very characteristic way of being or saying things.
In recent years, Venezuela has gone through complex situations that have triggered a massive migration of its inhabitants to different parts of the world.
Now the Venezuelan culture and slang has adapted very well to the receiving countries and the use of its words and phrases are beginning to be internationalized.
Remember that learning the slang and dialect of a country will help you greatly to communicate and establish any link with local people, as well as give you a new perspective and knowledge of other cultures.
Foreign Influence on Venezuelan Slang
The first Spanish colonists that arrived to the land were predominantly from Galicia, the Canary Islands, the Basque Country and Andalucía, and with the passing of time a dialect was established in the country that managed to mix each of these Spanish regions, in fact the accent of the natives of the Canary Islands is very similar to the Venezuelan one.
The Portuguese and Italian migration of the 19th and 20th centuries also influenced the introduction of new words. The Germans also established bases in Venezuela, even a mountainous region in the center of the country is inhabited by migrants from that country, known as La Colonia Tovar, which perfectly replicates the infrastructure of a German colonial town.
Many African slaves came to the country along with the Spanish, and after independence they set up bases on the Venezuelan coast, so a lot of the words in the local slang have a strong Yoruba influence.
Before the Spanish colonization, Venezuela was a territory occupied by various indigenous tribes, some of which maintain their presence in the country today, and many of their phrases and expressions have become part of the Venezuelan culture
Most Popular Venezuelan Slang Phrases
There are many phrases, expressions and words that identify the Venezuelan Spanish language from any other. Knowing it is a very interesting adventure that allows you to give a new approach to Spanish. Here are some of its most popular slang phrases.
It means when someone is striving to get something, for example, when Carlos works tirelessly to buy a new car.
- Carlos le está echando pichón: Carlos is trying very hard.
It’s used when someone is extremely flattering, with the intention of falling into grace or getting some benefit.
- María le jala demasiadas bolas a su jefa con tal de conseguir un ascenso: Maria is too much of a flatterer with her boss to get a promotion.
This expression is often used when a person has run out of money.
- Estoy pelando bolas, no pude trabajar esta semana: I’m out of money, I couldn’t work this week.
it doesn’t literally mean “to suck a rooster” but instead, a phrase venezuelans use to express a joke or when someone has been tricked.
- Me están mamando gallo: They’re playing a practical joke on me
Echarse los palos
It refers to the act of drinking liquor or having a drink of liquor with friends.
- Luis y José fueron a echarse los palos: Luis and Jose went to have a few drinks.
Bajarse de la mula
It defines the fact of paying cash hard, either for a debt or for a service in general.
- Mi pana, debes bajarte de la mula si quieres comprarte esa guitarra: My friend, you must pay a lot if you want that guitar.
Echar un camarón
They refer to the momentary naps that are taken during a working day or in the afternoon.
- Luis está echando un camarón: Luis is taking a short nap.
Recoger los macundales
It refers to picking up your belongings and leaving. The word “Macundales” means in Venezuela anything you can carry.
- Chamo recoge tus macundales y vámonos: Man, pick up your things and let’s go.
Sacar la piedra
It’s an expression that means someone or a situation is getting on your nerves.
- Me saca la piedra que María no limpie los platos después de comer: It really bothers me that María doesn’t do the dishes after eating.
Echar los perros
It means to pretend to a girl or a boy, to court in a recurrent way with the hope of having a love relationship in the future.
- Carlos le está echando los perros a Sandra: Carlos is flirting with Sandra.
Venezuelan Slang Words used to describe someone
THE most common slang word in Venezuela. The term refers to an idea, something or someone positive, nice, cool, friendly or amazing.
- La fiesta estuvo chévere: The party was amazing.
- José es muy chévere: José is nice.
It’s a very friendly word, so don’t hesitate to use it in everyday situations.
It is used to identify a young person or friend, regardless of whether it is a stranger or an acquaintance.
- ¿Qué tal chamo? Me alegro de verte: How about friend? Good to see you.
- Esos chamos andan bailando en el escenario: Those kids are dancing on stage.
You can refer to any stranger on the street with full confidence; it’s a very friendly word.
This term is practically a synonym of Chamo, used to express when someone is very friendly and cool.
- Alejandra es muy pana: Alejandra is very friendly.
- Esos chamos son muy panas: Those youngsters are very friendly.
It’s an informal expression that replaces the word “woman”. It is commonly used by young men to talk about women in the third person. The term is also used in the same way as “chama”, “chica”, or to refer to a girlfriend or acquaintance. Most Venezuelan women don’t like being called like that since it implies that they belong to a man. You can hear people say, for example:
- Mi jeva es médico: my girlfriend is a doctor.
- Esa jeva es bien fea: that woman is ugly.
A woman who is jealous, obsessive with her partner, does not allow her to talk to other girls and even checks her cell phone constantly in search of some detail that could be related to an act of infidelity: That woman is a Cuaima…
- La jeva de Fernando es muy cuaima: Fernando’s girlfriend is very jealous.
- No le escribas a Pedro, su jeva es muy cuaima: Don’t write to Pedro, his girlfriend is very jealous.
It refers to a person who does not like to share or who is very stingy.
- María es pichirre: Maria doesn’t want to spend her money.
- No seas pichirre: Don’t be stingy.
It’s used to describe someone very unlucky, or who attracts bad luck to those around him.
- Eres muy pavoso: You are an unlucky person.
- Marcos es un pavoso, cada vez que viene pasa algo malo: Marcos has very bad luck, every time she comes something bad happens.
Venezuelan Slang Words used to describe situations, things or moods
It means that something is very well done or looks great, also expressing a positive affirmation and closing a conversation.
- El Centro comercial nuevo esta fino: The new shopping center was very good.
- Se te ve fina esa ropa: Those clothes look great on you.
- Fino, hablamos luego: Okay, we’ll talk later.
It is the opposite of fino. The word refers to something very bad, cheap, of bad quality and a sad state of mind.
- El centro comercial nuevo quedó chimbo: The new shopping center was bad, not nice.
- Se te ve chimbo esa ropa: Those clothes look very bad on you.
- El teléfono tuyo es chimbo: Your phone is of bad quality.
- Me siento chimbo hoy: I am a little sad today.
In Colombia it has a completely different connotation, and it is used to say that something is good.
This word is so common that it is used to express completely different facts; you can say that you are upset or angry, and also say that something is amazing and incredible. Quite confusing.
In this case the context will be the determining factor.
- Sofía está arrecha: Sophia is angry.
- Ese carro está arrecho: That car is awesome.
You must be careful because in other countries like Colombia “Arrecho” means to be horny. So don’t go around telling someone look “muy arrecho”, it would be really awkward.
Like “arrecho”, this word has different connotations, its literal translation means: colorful bird or parrot, however, it is used to identify a typical dish of scrambled eggs or cocaine (Yes, that’s how confusing it can be)
- Me gusta desayunar perico: I like to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- Qué lindo perico: What a nice little parrot.
- Es adicto al perico: He is addicted to cocaine.
If you go to a restaurant you can order a dish of arepas con perico, but we do not recommend that you order perico on the street, you understand why.
It is commonly used to refer to a chaotic agglomeration of people.
- En el Centro Comercial, hay un Bululú: In the mall, there are many people.
The most common multipurpose Slang Words in Venezuelan Spanish you should know
A Spanish swear word widely used in Spain and the Caribbean. It literally refers to the female genitalia, but the term comes with a variety of meanings and connotations depending on the context in which they are applied. Venezuelans use it to spice up their phrases, to express surprise, frustration, admiration or in a derogatory way, for example:
- Coño, ¡qué sorpresa!: Damn, what a surprise!
- Coño, mi pana, una ladilla ese problema: Damn bro, so annoying that issue.
- El coño de su madre de Fernando – that depending on the context it might mean that Fernando is a mediocre person, a son of a bitch, a perceptive or an astute person or an ungrateful bastard.
This is the multifunctional term in Spanish language. Vaina means a thing, a gadget or a situation. For example you can say:
- ¿Qué vaina es esta?: What is this thing?
- Cuidado con una vaina Carlitos, estás avisado: Careful with a thing, Carlitos, you’ve been warned.
The word is used to describe someone or something really annoying. It can also be used as an expression of frustration.
- Ese pana es una ladilla, se la pasa hablando solo de sí mismo: That guy is really annoying, he only talks about himself.
- ¡Qué ladilla, me quedé sin gasolina!: Damn! I ran out of gas!
¡Si va! – ¡Dale!
It is an expression to imply that you agree or that you have understood something: Very well or sure is a way of saying it.
- Dale, nos vemos mañana: Okay, see you tomorrow
- ¿Nos vemos mañana? Si va: See you tomorrow? Ok
It refers to a great amount of something; they can be tangible or intangible. This Word means: a lot or quite.
- Creo que mejor no salimos hoy, hay burda de gente en la calle: I think it’s better not to go out today, there are a lot of people in the street.
- Luis está burda de loco: Luis is very crazy.
Estar enratonado or tener el ratón is the Venezuelan way to describe the hangover after a heavy night of drinking.
- Amanecí enratonado, pero qué chévere pasamos la noche con los panas: I woke up with a hangover, but what a good night we spent with friends.
- Chamo pero qué ratón tan fuerte cargo hoy: Dude, what a hangover have today!
These are just some of the most popular expressions in the Spanish Venezuelan slang, one of the most colorful and funniest jargon in Latin America. Each of these will help you blend in the country like one of the locals, and we assure you Venezuelans love when someone tries to learn their ways.
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