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Get a Taste of Uniquely Peruvian Expressions

peru cusco slang jerga

After our blog about Runasimi/Quechua we realised that there are many uniquely Peruvian Spanish jerga (or slang) expressions that were too funny not to share. Enjoy making yourself sound local. Here is our finest and 100% locally verified selection:




Gastro-Astro Slang

The Peruvian gastronomy is getting increasingly more popular internationally and for delicious reasons! But long before this new trend the importance of food in Peru has been so great that much food vocabulary has become slang:

o   asado – It literally means ‘baked’, ‘grilled’ or ‘roasted’, but in slang it means angry.

o   bonbón – An attractive or hot woman.

o   calabaza – ‘Pumpkin’ is not only vegetable but also a brainless person.

o  (echar) ajos y cebollas – Words for ‘garlics’ and ‘onions’ have such endings that they are used to represent certain grocerias – ‘vulgarisms’ not to be confused with groceries. See also miércoles below.

o   frito – Literally means ‘fried’ of course. In slang: ‘be in trouble’ or full of it as they say here.

o   hierba – ‘Herb’ means marihuana. 

o   lechero – ‘Milkman’ here in Peru is somebody with lots of luck.

o   lechuga – For some rason ‘letuce’ means impudent, insolent or cheeky.

o  Le patina el coco. ‘It ice-skates in his coconut.’ This surreal expression describes somebody who is crazy. It is also used directly it is: Te patina el coco. Another essential coconut expression below.

o   Me importa un perejil / pepino / comino. – There are many variations of this phrase used when people want to say that they couldn’t care less. Add the right intensity to your voice to stress that you mean it.

o   pan comido – ‘Eaten bread’ means ‘piece of cake’ or ‘easy peasy.’

o   pavo – ‘Turkey’ refers to a person with high academic abilities, but low social skills.

o   pollo/a – ‘Chicken’ used to describe people who get drunk easily. A person already drunk is often referred to as being ‘entre Pisco y Nazca.These are two cities in the Ica coastal region where grapes are cultivated and wine and Pisco produced.

o   piña – Means ‘pineapple’. But also having a bad luck.

o   rayado – When you are ‘grinded’ you are angry.


And for desert some useful non-gastronomical slang expressions

o   Al fondo hay sitio – ‘There is space in the back(seat)’ – this is a name of a popular Peruvian comic TV series and it is also a song. When travelling on combis in Lima you will hear the cobradores yell: ‘¡Suba! ¡Suba! ¡Suba! Al fondo hay sitio.’ – ‘Get on! Get on! Get on! There is space in the back.’ Well, the Al fondo hay sitio lyrics go where 5 people get in 6 people also will. In the case of Lima combi public transport multiply by ten. The sardines must joke among themselves: ‘What is many people in a tin?’ ‘A Lima combi!’ No wonder that Lima municipality is trying to impose more order on the public transport and traffic.

o  al toqueToque literally means ‘touch.’ Al toque stands for immediately or right away. Remember that time is culturally specific.

o  amigo de lo ajeno – ‘A friend of something that belongs to somebody else’ – a pickpocket or a thief. Often there are signs using this expression warning that thieves aren’t welcomed on board on the public microbuses.

o   bacán – ‘Cool’ or ‘awesome’.

o  causa – Used among men meanings a friend or a buddy (people from the northern jungle regions say paisa). In its literal gastronomical meaning causa limeña is a delicious starter made of potato mash, tuna or chicken filling, mayonese, hard boiled eggs and black olives. Or it simply means ‘cause’.

o   chela – ‘A beer’ more often used in plural chelas. Un par de chellas can easily turn into too many of them.

o   chévere – ‘Great,’ ‘awesome’ like bacán, but we think it sounds better.

o   chicha – A fermented drink made of corn or quinoa. Or chica morada is a non-fermented non-alcoholic dark purple sweet beverage made of black corn. Delicious and refreshing.

o  chifa – A word for a Chinese-Peruvian restaurants. ‘The origin of the term “chifa” comes from the Cantonese 饎飯 (Jyutping:ci3 faan6) which means “to eat rice or to have a meal.”’[1] The Chinese came to Peru more than a hundred years ago following a gold rush. The two cuisines and cultures have been blending ever since.

o   está verde – If someting ‘is green,’ it’s not necessarily meant environmentally. It usually expresses that something like an idea or a project is in its initial phase; it is yet to be fully developed before putting into practice.

o   jueves de patas – ‘Paws’ Thusdays’ – not for paws really, ‘paws’ stands for close friends here. This is a famous phrase from Pilsen Callao beer TV commercial.

o   miércoles – ‘Wednesday,’ the third day of the week usually, but also used whenever people don’t want to say literally mierda – ‘shit’.

o   Ni michi. Michi is one of the words to say ‘cat’ or the sound made to call the animal, but the phrase means ‘not a thing’ or ‘nothing at all’ when there is a misunderstanding.

o   pe – Short version of pues ‘like’ or ‘well’ – usually used at the end of a sentence, or as an agreement expression si pe, ya pe, claro pe or even like a filler. Heard all over Peru.

o   porfa / porfis – Shortened form of por favor – ‘please’. Further shortened to x fa in textese. Mathematical sign ‘x’ reads por in Spanish.

o   seño – short for señora – ‘missis’. This expression is found more along the coast. In Cusco people say mami referring to women and girls (and papi referring to men and boys).

o   soroche – From the Quechua word surúchi. Here in the high Andes soroche is the term for altitude sickness.

o   vaina – ‘Thing’ or ‘stuff’ like in English this word is used to talk about anything.

o   yapa – ‘Extra’ when you finish a soup, a meal or a juice in the street or in a market place ask for mi yapa and you will get a bit more.















And of course money slang

o   plata – ‘Silver’ an expression for money in general.

o   coco – ‘Coconut’ means a US Dollar – usually used in plural cocos some even say cocodrilos – ‘crocodiles.’

o   luca – One Nuevo Sol; cien lucas – 100 Soles.

o   china – It doesn’t mean the Asian country. It is a 50 cent coin.

o   amarillo(s) – ‘Yellow(s)’ means 20 or 10 cent coins.


Did we miss something? Drop us a comment. And keep it classy, please.


[1] Wikipedia


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