Dictionary Chilango, ¡Chale Carnal!

Chilango Dictionary: Understand Mexican Phrases

“Pachucos, cholos, y chundos, chichinflas y malafachas; acá los chompiras rifan y bailan tibiri-tabara” – “Chilanga Banda” de Café Tacvba 1996

Granted, most of the residents of Mexico City don’t know what roughly 90% of those lyrics by chilango group Café Tacvba really mean; the “chilango language” is so complex due to the urban tribes that populate the city and have their own internal dialect. These substratifications include cholos, rockers, emos, punks, frikis, thugs, preppies, etc., that are also constantly innovating and modifying their own dialect and adding new words constantly.

Diccionario Chilango

"Chale", "Tranza", "Morralla".

Vamos a tratar de tan siquiera enlistar lo más mínimo que uno debe de saber en cuanto a palabras se refieren para poder deambular cómodamente por la ciudad e interactuar eficientemente con sus habitantes


Yet here we’ll try to list the very few minima that you must know in order to move about the city with ease and interact efficiently with its residents.

Cámara: Literally photo camera, but it’s mainly used confusingly in several contexts; it can mean affirmation, negation, a sort of “how dare you”, or even just as a goodbye. This word is used in this context exclusively in CDMX and not in the rest of the country.

Güey: Words that tend to be used in different contexts are the most difficult and this is one of them. Güey is typically used to refer to any guy (it probably is a corruption of “guy”), but it can also express simple surprise (“güey!”) or reproach, it all depends on the tone that it is given. This word is utilized in the rest of the country.

Chilango Dictionary and its meaning

Tranzar: Steal or deceive; sort of like the verb “dupe”.

Tira, chota, poli: police, copper, gumshoe

Lana, feria, varo: money

Morralla: spare change

Madre: again another word used in different contexts, it can be either a curse word or just a simple indicator that points to a common object.

Aguanta: Somebody asking for more time, like “hang on”

Carnal: Brother

Chale!: expresses disenchantment or disappointment, sort of like “aww jeez!”

Onda: the overall vibe of the situation, mostly asked in the form of a question to see how somebody’s doing.

Rola: Song or as a verb to pass something to someone

Mano, cuate, compa: A trusted friend, like a “buddy”

There are obviously so many of these words that could fill a book with the entire “chilango language”; but at the very least this handful of words will give you a gist of what’s transpiring. Cámara

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