List of Chicano Caló words and expressions

List of Chicano Caló words and expressions

The following is a list of Chicano slang words and expressions, known as Caló, also spelled "Calo" and "Kalo" by modern Chicano youth. It does not list words and expressions of the language of the Spanish Roma people, which is also called Caló, except where these have been incorporated into Chicano Caló. Nor does it list Mexican slang words and expressions unless they have originated in Pachuco Caló or have been incorporated into it with altered meaning. A few words can be traced to the Nahuatl language of the Mexicas (Aztecs, pronounced "meh-shi-ka"). Others adapt English or indigenous languages of the Southwest.

The English letters W and K, which are not historically part of Mexican or Spain Spanish, are more frequently used in Caló. Spelling in general is more flexible—in tagging or on the internet, K can replace C or Q; V and B are interchangeable; Z can replace S; H can replace J.

These expressions vary by place, especially with the use of modifying suffixes. For example, the word 'chafa' (low quality) can be heard in various neighborhoods or regions as 'chafaldrana', 'chafoso', or 'chafarrafa'. Some suffixes originate in Mexican Spanish, such as "-azo"; others like "-ucha" and "-ldrana" are specific to Chicano Caló.

The use of some "classic" pachuco slang words from the 1930s and 40s has survived while others have not.


; a ponemos chancla : (from "chancla", Nahuatl for sandal) "Let's dance". The grammar is deliberately incorrect.; águila : (lit. "eagle") "Be alert"; aliviane : a form of help "Aliviáname - help me"; aguas : "to be alert, be careful". "¡Agua!" ("Water!) is the cry of sellers of dodgy items when police are spotted.; Araisas : Arizona; A.T.M. : a toda madre - great, fantastic, out of sight (expression antedates the abbreviation for "automated teller machine")


baika: bicycle; baro : coin, money.; bironga : beer, booze; borracho : A drunk or someone on a bender.; bolillo : derogatory term for "white boy" or "white guy," similar to "cracker" in American slang. Derived from the white dinner roll of the same name. Also used in Mexican Spanish.; bola : A dollar. "Prestame una bola." "Lend me a dollar." ; bomba : (also "bomb") a lowrider car or truck from the 1930s - mid-1950s; bote : (literally: "can") jail or prison; also, a lid of marijuana.; borlo : dance, party. "Vamos al borlo." "Let's go to the dance/party."; bronca : trouble or a problem with someone else; Burque : a contraction of the old spelling of Albuquerque, New Mexico (Originally spelled "Alburquerque").


; cabulear : to "bullshit"; to "chew the fat with"; Caile : Come here, go any where; Cali : California (also "Kali") ; Califas : California. In standard Spanish, it means "caliphs".; calcos : shoes; Calecia: a fond name for the border city Calexico, California in the US, The highest percentage of Mexican citizens of any city in the US (about 90%). ; Caló : a language used by Chicanos or Mexican-Americans, derived from the name of the Spanish Gypsy (gitano) dialect, Caló; canicas : (lit. marbles) love; , genitals(male); also "andar a canicas"(walking around naked).; cantón : home; house; apartment; carnal : brother; close friend; homeboy, from "primo carnal", "first-grade cousin." (also "karnal"); careja : all at once, burdon, blows; Carrucha: Car, Your Ride (related to "carro," car); Carrujo: joint, marijuana cigarette; cagua : beer (related to Mexican slang for large beer, "caguama," literally "giant turtle"); catos : fistfight, fisticuffs; chafa : low quality; chale : expresses disagreement, "no way"; antonym of simón; chavala: (from Gypsy/Gitano Calo) little girl; also used as an insult for a man that lacks courage; chavalo: (from Gypsy/Gitano Calo, related to Mexican Spanish "chavo") little boy; chela: beer; chevere: cool. smooth. awesome. Possible Central American origin; chido: cool. awesome. "que chido wey" "esta chida la rola" ; chingazo: a punch or a kick delivered during a fight or brawl; chorra : penis; chota : cops, police; clecha : school, class; clica : clique, social group, gang (also "klika"); con safos: (frequently abbreviated as "c/s") "Nobody can mess with this" (likely from Arabic-derived Spanish zafo = unobstructed, clear, safe, intact); coco: bruise, cut, scrape, head, wound of some sort.; cuete: gun (from cohete = rocket)


; dalass : Dallas, Texas; dale gas : step on it, go for it; de aquellas : (lit. "from those over there") "the best"; descuéntate : beat it, get lost; descuéntatelo : hit him; descontar : to hit, irregular conjugation (descuento, descuentas, descuenta, descuentan, descontamos); dispensa: (also 'spensa)excuse me(?); drapes : syn. for "zoot suit" (see below), originating in 1930s Harlem African American for stylish clothing;


; East Los : East Los Angeles, California; echa la cookie : fast, as in running fast; El Pasiente : El Paso; El Chuco : El Paso; El Valluco : Rio Grande Valley, Texas; El Footdale : "see machin"; empanzonar: impregnate; ene : short for Norteño; ena : short for Norteña; enjaular : to lock up. Standard Spanish.; entacucharse : to dress up, more specifically, to wear a tuxedo or suit; escamado : scared. Standard Spanish.; escuelín : school; esquina : help, give a hand; esquinar : help out.; ésa : short for Sureña; ése : short for Sureño (lit. "that one", "that guy") ; esponjes : lie as in "no esponges ese"; esponjes : angry, as in "no te esponges" = "don't get angry"


; fajates : blew it; feria : money (literally "fair", as in "county fair," but references the homonym "fare" as a bilingual pun) ; filero : knife. Spanish "filo" means "edge".; firme : cool (as in "hip"); good. In standard Spanish, "firm".; frajo : cigarette; fresa : prep; fusca : gun


; gabacho/a : (also "gavacho") insulting term for a white person. Related to Mexican Spanish slang for the United States, "el gabo" (In Spain, "Frenchman").; gacho : unfortunate, inappropriate, or cruel (possibly from Basque "gaizto"); gasofas : Gas, Petrol; Good nuff : Half-ass bullshit, work ethic; grifa : marijuana (whence the US slang word "reefer"; derived from "grifo"); grifo : (lit. "faucet") marijuana addict; someone who is always "prendido", or "lit" ; güacha : (also "wacha" or "wachale") "Look"; "Watch"; güaino : Wino; güero : (also "huero" or "weddo") white person; light skinned, blue eyed/blond person; güisa : (also "wisa" and "weesa") woman; girlfriend; güey : Technically means a castrated bull, but it's often used as like homeboy or dude. For example, "Que onda guey?" means, "what's up man?" Also may refer to a man who's being cheated on by his significant other. Commonly used in Mexico, but considered somewhat vulgar there, guys say it to close friends, but you shouldn't call like an old woman or padre this, as it means castrated bull. (sometimes spelled "buey" or "wey")


; homeboy : (also "homie") 1) a very close associate usually identified as someone from one's own barrio or neighborhood; 2) a person with whom one identifies closely with implying a strong loyalty toward; possibly derivative of Spanish "hombre"; homes : (also "holmes") variation on the word "homeboy", used to identify a friend; can also be used as a casual greeting for anyone; Firme / Feedme: 1) everythings all good; hyna: a girl, or girlfriend


; jaina : (also spelled "hyna", "heina", and "hayna") woman; honey; girlfriend; jale : a job ; jefa/jefita : mother; jefe/jefito : (lit. "boss") father; jura : police


; lacra : low life individual; lambache : suck ass; lambiscón : suck ass ; Lamparas : Lompoc, CA (as in WS VLamparasP X3); lana : (lit. "wool") money; lancas: lancaster ca. (city of criminals); la neta : "the truth" or an unquestionable axiom (as in "es la neta" means "that's the truth"), also tends to be followed with "que" as its universal conjunction to other words such as "laneta que el otro dia..." meaning "the truth is that the other day…". From "la neta verdad", "the pure truth".; lanzar chingadazos : throw blows; laquiar: to lock; leño : marijuana cigarette (joint). In Spanish, "wood block".; leva : coward; llantas : (lit. "tires") a term for homemade sandals or beat-up shoes, also used to refer to extra fat acquired around the waist (similar to "rolls" or "love handles"); llevanate : behave, be cool, chill out; litro : cigarette lighter; lisa : shirt; loc : (pronounced "loke") short for "loco"; a street crazy; hardcore street tough, also maddogs or heavily tinted sunglasses; locochón : crazy; Longos/Longeros : Long Beach, CA The strongest gang in Long Beach, CA, part of the South Side structure controlled by the Mexican Mafia; Los : Los Angeles, CA


; machín : excellent, high-achieving, outstanding; manflora : (also manfi) derogatory for lesbian, dyke; máscara : face. In Spanish, "mask".; mayate/mayata : derogatory for a dark-skinned male/female, usually African American; der. from "mayatl" (Nahuatl) an irridescent black scarab; mayatero : someone who tries to "act black" such as by saying the word "nigga", ; mexa : from a Mexican origin; miclo : light-skinned Mexican; mojado: wetback. Any immigrant crossing the Rio Grande river (mostly Mexican). Literally, "wet".Monda: penis; mono : movie; mono : the devil; demon. Literally "monkey".; mota : slang for marijuana (possibly from Seminole "mota" meaning tobacco; in Mexican Spanish, mota means "speck")


; naranjas : no. Literally "oranges". In Spain the phrase "naranjas de la China" means "no way".; narices : no. Literally "noses". In Spain the phrase would be "y unas narices".; negro/a : (lit. "black") a somewhat affectionate term for a darker skinned individual of whatever race, e.g. chicano, African American or others (e.g. "vamos mi negro"), can be softened in the diminutive (negrito/a) as negro can also be derogatory ; nel : no; nikle : Pronounced "nee-kleh." Five cents.; no manches : don't mess around; no hay pedo : no problem; no sweat; Norte Califas : Northern California; Norteño : northerner; street chapter of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, associated with the color red and the number 14.; no te quetes : don't get depressed


; Órale : "Right on"; "Alright!"; Ojete : asshole [example: ya no seas ojete] ; Oklas : Oklahoma City or 405 used mainly by SSVL 25


; Pachuco : a native or resident of El Paso, Texas, later extended to mean all Mexicans and Mexican Americans adopting aspects of Pachuco culture such as dressing in zoot suits and speaking Caló.; paisa (from 'Paisano'): (also "border brother") a somewhat affectionate term for recent immigrants from Mexico; pano/paño : a style of art, with drawings or paintings made in prison, on handkerchiefs (literally "handkerchief"); panocha : pussy; pancho : (orig. nickname for the first name "Francisco") crying or complaining, used with the verb "hacer" i.e. "tu haces mucho pancho!" meaning "you do a lot of complaining"; panzón : fat man. Standard Spanish, compare English paunch.; panzona : fat woman; pregnant woman; pásame las tres : Literally, "pass me the three". "Let me have a drag" (of a cigarette); pase : slang for cocaine; pedo : (literally "fart") intoxicated; 'estar pedo'; pedo : problem; 'no hay pedo'; pendejo: extremely foolish person, a coward, "no seas pendejo" (don't be a fool), "me hice pendejo" (I turned a blind eye); also pubic hair (archaic) highly offensive. ; perico : slang for cocaine ; perromount/pussymount : paramount=smallest city in L.A. County; perrucha : very difficult; female trouble-maker (related to "perra," meaning female dog or bitch); pestaña : (lit. eyelash) sleep ; pestañear : to sleep; phoeniquera : slang for Phoenix, Arizona; picaste : did you "get" some (from Sp. picar, to poke); pinta : jail; prison (more specifically); pintar paredes : to masturbate ; pisto : beer; can of beer (more specifically); also general term for alcoholic beverage. In Spanish, "soup" [ pisto] in DRAE.] ; placa : (literally "badge") tattoo; the police; a person's graffiti tag; ponerse al alba : "to put oneself to the dawn", to get with it; ponerse zafado : to get high on marijuana; ponte las pilas : get your stuff together; Poros : Porterville Califas; Puñal : A knife, Gay, (homosexual) "eres Puñal"; Puto : Gay individual ; putazo : a big punch.; prendido : "lit on", high on drugs; high on marijuana (most common)


; ¿qué onda? : "what's up?"; quemar llanta : to burn rubber (as in driving); Quilmas : San Quentin prison; ¿Quiubo? (Quíhubo, Qiobo. quióboles. Q-vo): (from "Qué hubo" meaning "What was there?"} "What's going on?"; "What's up?"


; ranfla : car; lowrider car (more specifically); rifamos : "We rule" Also (to take) a chance; "nos la rifamos"; rifar : to rule, have superiority in a neighborhood, in a sport, or some territory; refin : food; refinando : eating; refinar : to eat; rola : song; ruca : (literally: "old woman") girlfriend; woman; ruco : Old man

; Sacra : Sacramento, CA; safis : Oops! Some type of error. ; Salas : Salinas, CA; Sancha : Girlfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover; Sancho : Boyfriend on the side; secret (or not) lover; San Jo : (pronounced "San Ho") San Jose, California; San Anto : San Antonio, Texas; San Fran : San Francisco; San Pipas : San Pedro; San Quilmas : San Antonio, Texas (archaic); San Quentin Prison (more common as only "Quilmas"); saurucha : saw; sentirse aviador : "to feel as an airman", to feel high or drunk; Serio/a : "seriously", for real (also spelled Cerio/a); simón : "Yeah", often combined with ese: simónese; soda : slang for cocaine; soflamera : whiner; songas : songs; Swata : Idiot ; Sur Califas: Southern California; Sureño : southerner, street chapter of La eMe (or Mexican Mafia), associated with the color blue and the number 13.; Estéicis : (from shoe manufacturer "Stacey Adams") a brand of dress shoes favored by pachucos and swingers; a generic term for polished dress shoes


; ta con madre : shortened form of "está con madre" (lit. "is with mom") the best, or something really good, outstanding.; tacuche : (literally: "suit") zoot suit; fancy clothing; talonear : "to heel", to walk, also to con; tecato : heroin addict; tinto : (literally. "dark") derogatory reffering to an African-American; tirando chancla : dancing your ass off; tira: police; tirar la masa : (lit. "to throw corn dough") to defecate; tirarlo a león : (lit. "to ignore") to blow off, to forget about it; tirar tripa : (lit. "to throw guts") to vomit; TJ : "jerry-rigged" or of inferior workmanship, (from the initials for Tijuana, a California border town where Americans go for cut-rate dentistry, auto body repair, and upholstry); toleco : Fify-cent piece. ; torcido : (lit. "twisted") jail time; locked up in prison (most specifically); torta : (lit. "cake") derogatory slang for a fat female ; tortilla : lesbian; traer cola : "to carry a tail", to be on parole; tragazón : food, especially in large amounts. From "tragar", "to swallow".; tramos : pants; trinquetiar : to cheat; to mess (someone) up; trola : cigarette lighter, match; trucha : (lit. "trout") "Watch out"; smart; wise; tubos : "tubes". Socks; turiquear : to get along; to communicate


; un Abril : (also "un abro") a year's jail sentence


; valluco : Rio Grande Valley, South Texas; vasquear : to vomit; vaisa : grip (possibly derived from vise grip); varrio : neighborhood or 'hood (misspelling or alternate spelling of barrio); vato : dude; guy; man; verga : (lit. "mast", "pole"), "dick" "penis" "cock"; vieja : (lit. "old lady") girlfriend, wife; volar : (lit. "to fly") to hurry


; wango : loose, sloppy, awkward in appearance; Wachar : to watch, to look out for; also güachar; Wáchale : watch out! (interjection); Watson : Watsonville, CA; weso : westside; Wilmas : Wilmington, CA; wilo, güilo : skinny; wilo, güilo : male prostitute; wino : term for someone consuming large amounts of alcohol, an alcoholic


; yesca : (also "yeska") marijuana. In Spanish, "a fungus to light fire".; yonka : bike; ¿Y qué? : "And what?"; "So (what)?" (used to question, add emphasis, or challenge someone); "ay wey" : " oh, shit"


; zafado : goofy; zafo : I'm out, I bail out. (used when asking for volunteers); derived from/related to con safos (see above); zoot suit : an outfit of male clothing consisting of large pants which become narrower towards the bottom, a stylish, a nice looking jacket which matches with the pants, and a long chain running from the pocket


ee also

* For references which mention many of the words listed here, see the article Caló (Chicano).

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