Puerto Rico has its own words and phrases that make its way of speaking unique. If you mix Spanish with English, Caribbean accent and some indigenous and African influences, what do you have? Puerto Rican Spanish.
So, here are some words and phrases that distinguish Puerto Rico from the rest of Latin America.
This post features a Puerto Rican voice actor who appears in Gritty Spanish original & Parte II. You’ll hear him recite the slang words in a real sentence. Enjoy!
Remember to take the Quiz about PR Slang at the end of this article!
1. Al garete
When something has gone wrong, Puerto Ricans say that “se fue al garete“, but they can also use this expression to tell someone to stop annoying them, telling him “vete al garete“.
Apparently and according to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language, the word “garete” comes from the French construction “être égaré“, whose meaning is “to go astray“.
Its use began being nautical, being used to indicate that a boat went adrift, without direction or government, at the mercy of the winds and marine currents; Evolving to the actual use of such expression. Currently in Puerto Rico, it is mainly used to say that something or someone is adrift or aimless.
“El negocio está quebrado porque lo has manejado al garete, a lo loco.”
“The business is broke because you have managed it wildly, like crazy.”
“Deberías calmarte, estas descontrolado, bien al garete.”
“You should calm down, you’re out of control, really crazy.”
This the verb for “struggle“.
This word is used in several Latin American countries with different meanings, however, in Puerto Rico it is used frequently and means to work in a task, to do something with effort and dedication.
“Ya empezó el día, hay que salir a bregar para ganarse los chavos.”
“The day started already, we have to go out and work hard to earn the money.”
“Estoy en los exámenes finales, tengo que bregar duro para sacar buenas notas.”
“I’m in the final exams, I have to study a lot to get good grades.”
Literally, it means, “kids, boys, young men“. Although the meaning of “chavos” in most Hispanic countries is “boys” or “young men“, in Puerto Rico it’s used to name money.
“Oye, ¿Qué pasó con los chavos que te presté? ¿Cuándo me los pagas?”
“Hey, what happened with the money I lent you? When will you pay me?”
“Ese carro esta de paquete, debe costar unos cuantos chavos.”
“That car is brand new, it must cost some money.”
4. Dame un break
Mix of the Spanish “dame” meaning “give me” and the English “break“. Puerto Ricans use it to ask for a break, an opportunity, a pause, among others.
“Hermano tenemos dos horas caminando, estoy cansado, dame un break; un minuto para recuperarme.”
“Bro, we’ve been walking for two hours, i’m tired, give me a break; a minute to recover.”
“Oye yo sé que te debo el dinero, pero por favor dame un break, este mes te pago.”
“Hey I know that I owe you money, but give me a break, this month I will pay you.”
This means, “Revolt“. In Puerto Rico, it is used to describe situations such as: Disorder, racket, a mess, a mix-up, pandemonium, a loud commotion, a disaster, etc…
You use this word to describe a problematic, confusing or messy situation.
“Anoche en la fiesta estaba todo bien cuando de repente un borracho armó el revolú.”
“Last night at the party everything was good when suddenly a drunk dude started a mix-up.”
“Había una rebaja en el mall y la gente se volvió loca, hicieron tremendo revolú.”
“There was a discount at the mall and people went crazy, they made a big mess.”
This word comes from the English “hang out” and for Puerto Ricans means to go for a walk, to have fun in a group or in a couple.
“Esta tarde no tengo nada que hacer, creo que iré un rato a janguear al parque.”
“I have nothing to do this afternoon, I think that I will go hang out to the park for a while.”
“El fin de semana pasado me fui a janguear con el corillo a la discoteca.”
“Last weekend I went to hang out with the crew to the club.”
The “mamey” is a tree that grows up to 15 meters high, with white, fragrant flowers, and almost round fruit, about 15 centimeters in diameter, with a thin, flexible bark that Remove with ease. It has yellow, aromatic, tasty pulp, and one or two seeds in the shape of a ram’s kidney.
On the other hand, the word “mamey” can refer to a lucrative, easy to do job. Hence, the saying “hartarse de mamey“, which is nothing other than take advantage of benefits. As for “viviendo del mamey“, it is defined as living off the state budget, public employment, living the story, good income or an easy job.
There is also the saying “con la boca es un mamey“, which refers to the thing that, apparently is easy, but it is not. That is, one thing that is easier said than done.
In Puerto Rico “corillo” means group of people or friends.
“Anoche estaba aburrido y me fui de fiesta con el corillo.”
“I was bored last night and went to party with the crew.”
“Te crees muy valiente porque andas con un corillo, pero en algún momento estarás solo.”
“You think you’re a badass because you hang out with a crew, but at some point you will be alone.”
9. Guillao ‘/ Guilla’
“Guillao” means someone who is arrogant, a person that pretends to be something or someone that they are not, a stuck-up person, someone who is constantly boasting.
“Ese tipo esta guillao’ de sabelotodo pero vas a ver cómo le quito el guille que tiene.”
“That guy thinks he is a smarty, but you’ll see how I take away that attitude he has.”
“La vecina anda guilla’ de inocente, pero ya sé que fue ella quien se robó mi periódico.”
“The girl next door shows herself as innocent, but I know she was who stole my newspaper.”
Courage, Bravery, who is not afraid and faces anyone, has a “baba” that makes it agile; “babilloso” is the one who has “babilla“.
“¿Tienes babilla para lanzarte en paracaídas?”
“Do you have guts to do skydive?”
“Anoche intentaron asaltar a Raymond y el muy “babilloso” se enfrentó a los ladrones y los sometió a todos.”
“Last night they tried to rob Raymond, the very “badass” guy faced the robbers and beat them all.”
Literal meaning is “She cat“.
in the colloquial language of Puerto Rico “gata” is used as a synonym for sexy and attractive woman.
“Anoche salí con unas gatas que parecían modelos.”
“Last night I went out with some babes who looked like models”
“Este fin de semana me voy a acicalar y prepararme pa’ las gatas.”
“I will groom and get ready for the babes this weekend.”
A Boricua isthat Puerto Rican who was born on the island of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans whose family only resides on the island from one or two generations ago are not considered boricuas (although Puerto Ricans). Most Puerto Ricans currently residing in New Yorkin the United States, belong to boricua families.
“Jennifer López nació en Nueva York, así que no es boricua.”
“Jennifer Lopez was born in New York, so she is not boricua.”
“Ricky Martin, ese si es un boricua de cora’ (cora’ is an Abbreviation for ‘corazón’).”
“Ricky Martin, that is a true Boricua.”
Literal translation is, “daddy“.
Widely used in Puerto Rico, not necessarily to refer to their parents but as a way of saying mate, friend, partner, etc. From women to men or between men if they are friends (and many other situations). Their uses are multiple depending on the context.
Between men friends:
Oye papi hace tiempo que no te veía, ¿cómo estás?”
“Hey mate long time I haven’t seen you, how are you doing?”
From woman to man:
Papi me encantaría salir contigo esta noche, ¿A dónde me vas a llevar?”
“Baby I would love to go out tonight, where you gon take me?”
Puerto Ricans have lots of expressions that only they can understand and we do not guarantee that you will be an expert, but at least after reading this article, there will be fewer words that you will not understand.
Take the Spanish Slang Quiz!
The Dark Side Of Puerto Rican Slang: Cursing!
Did you enjoy the article about Puerto Rican Slang? If you do, then you should spice it up a bit and learn some PR Curse words in this post!
“Mas viejo que el frio”
This phrase literally translates to “older than the cold” in English. Puerto Ricans use this phrase when they want to say that something or someone is really, really old.
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- Eres lindo/linda. You are cute.
- Tienes una sonrisa hermosa. You have a beautiful smile.
- Tienes unos ojos preciosos. You have beautiful eyes.
- ¿Te invito una copa? Would you like a drink?
- ¿Quieres cenar juntos esta noche? ...
- ¿Vamos afuera? ...
- Eres muy atractivo/atractiva. ...
- He estado pensando en ti.
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- 3. " what the fuck", slang. volume_up ¿Qué coño…? [vulg.] [ex.] WTF.
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|1||General||chancha [f] LA|
- bathing beauty.
- beauty queen.
- cover girl.
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|Thank you very much||Muchísimas gracias||Moo-chee-see-mas grassy-as|
|Thanks again||Gracias de nuevo||Grassy-as day noo-ay-vo|
|No thank you||No, gracias||No grassy-ass|