10 Slang Words to Know Before Traveling to Colombia

Are you planning to visit the beautiful country of Colombia soon? If so, here are some useful slang words and phrases you'll want to know. While this list doesn't include every Colombian slang word, it should serve as a useful foundation as you navigate your way around the country and speak with locals. 

1. Me regala… = Would you give me…

In Colombia, when you ask for something, you say ¿me regala…? This literally translates into Would you gift me…? It may sound a little strange asking someone to gift you a glass of water, but it’s a phrase Colombians use all the time to ask for favors. Don’t forget to add por favor at the end!

¿Me regala una menta por favor? (Would you give me a mint please?) 

2. Rumba = Party

Colombians love to have rumbas until dawn. If you’re looking for a night of dancing, lively music, and mingling with the local crowds, you’ll want to know this word when you hear it. It is usually used to describe going out for a night on the town.

Llegó el fin de semana y vamos a salir de rumba esta noche. (It’s the weekend and we’re going to party tonight.) 

3. Guayabo = Hangover

If you go de rumba, chances are the next day you’ll wake up with a bit of a guayabo. You’ll need this word to accompany that giant glass of water you’ll want when you wake up.

Salí de rumba ayer y ahora tengo guayabo. No te imaginas cómo me duele la cabeza. (I went out to party last night and now I have a hangover. You can’t imagine how much my head hurts.) 

4. Vuelta a la manzana = Go around the block

When you’re given directions, you might hear this phrase used. It literally means to go around the apple, but the apple you go around is actually the street block.

Voy a dar una vuelta a la manzana. Necesito aire fresco. (I’m going to go around the block. I need fresh air.) 

5. Parce = Dude

This word is particularly popular among Colombian youths. Another variation of the same word is parcero/a.

¡Parce, hace rato no te veo! (Dude, I haven’t seen you in so long!) 

6. Embarrar = To mess up

This idiom literally translates to muddy something up. It makes sense – mud does make quite a mess! If you happen to embarrar, just smile and keep on practicing your Spanish!

No estudié lo suficiente para el examen, así que creo que la embarré. (I didn't study sufficiently for the exam, so I think I messed up.) 

7. Mamar gallo = To tease

This expression literally means to suckle the rooster, which seems a bit strange. However, you’ll probably hear it a lot because Colombians LOVE to tease. This word is particularly effective when coupled with a witty comeback.

Mi hermano necesita parar de mamarme gallo cuando pongo mi protector solar cuando vamos a caminar el perro. (My brother needs to stop teasing me when I put on sunscreen when we walk the dog.) 

8. Berraco/a = Someone skilled in something

If someone is a berraco/a, it means he or she is really amazing at doing something. It’s quite the compliment, so if you are called it, congrats!

Esa chica es una berraca para la ortografía. (That girl is really skilled in spelling.) 

9. Hacer una vaca = Pool money together

If you and your friends are in Colombia and want to plan a trip together, this expression will be particularly useful. You’ll want to hacer una vaca to save up to take a road trip, go to a concert, or even rent a house out for the weekend in Anapoima!

Este fin de semana debemos hacer una vaca entre todos para alquilar una casa en la playa. (This weekend we should all pool our money together to rent a house on the beach.) 

10. Puente = Three day weekend

Between the Catholic celebrations and the days honoring the country’s revolutionary history, there are many holidays in Colombia. Usually, those holidays are celebrated on Mondays, allowing for three-day weekends called puentes.

Qué rico, este fin de semana es puente y podemos descansar más tiempo. (How nice, this weekend is a three-day weekend and we have more time to rest.) 

Now you're ready to book your travels to Medellín, Bogotá, or Barranquilla. Remember to take this list with you on your travels. Have a safe journey!