Learn Spanish from Latin America: Peruvian slang

27 Jan
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Learn Spanish from Latin America: Peruvian slang

Wednesday January 27, 2021 - Posted by admin

Learn Spanish from Latin America: Peruvian Slang | Prepare for a trip to Peru and learn Peruvian Spanish and Peruvian slang. The official definition is slang is: “language (words, phrases and usages) of an informal register that people and particular groups prefer over the common vocabulary of a standard language. Peruvian slang are typical Peruvian words and phrases that are part of the informal, spoken language; sometimes it’s street language, used mainly – but not only – by younger people.

Like other countries, Peru has developed its own unique, particular slang that Spanish speakers of other Spanish speaking countries might not even fully understand. These words are beneficial if you’re in direct contact with local people in an informal setting: with friends, out partying, etc. Interested? Learn Spanish from Latin America: Peruvian slang.

Whether you are interested in travelling in Peru for just a few days or staying there for months, you’ll benefit from knowing “Peruvian Spanish’ or Peruvian slang. Or, maybe you love the Spanish language, and you want to learn about the different accents and idioms; or, compare Latin American Spanish and Spanish from Spain. If you are interested in Peruvian slang or ‘jerga’ (slang in Spanish) because you’ll use it to interact with the local Peruvian people, it’ll open up a whole new world of opportunities.

Talking about Peruvian Spanish first: Peruvians are said to be ‘the clearest Spanish” of South America (together with the Colombians.) The locals of other South American (such as Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, or Central American countries like México), have a stronger Spanish pronunciation with more varieties; mostly, more challenging to understand for foreigners learning the Spanish language.

What are the characteristics of Peruvian Spanish?

Peruvians speak American Spanish. There are different accents throughout the country. In general, Peruvians do not speak very fast, except for the people from the capital Lima (they speak incredibly fast).

Other characteristics:
  • Peruvians do not have the [θ] sound
  • they don’t use the apico-alveolar “s”, and
  • Peruvians don’t use the “vosotros” pronoun and its verb conjugations.
Influence of Quechua

Many typical Peruvian Spanish phrases and Spanish words in slag are popular only in South America and Peru. A lot of everyday Spanish in Peru comes from Quechua, the original language of the Incas. Not all Peruvian speak Quechua – especially not the younger generations, and people in the big cities. However, in Peru, they seem to know a little Quechua even when they say they don’t.


Take a look at the following list of the best and most common slang or jerga/jargon used by Peruvians.

1. PATA.

Pata in standard Spanish means: the leg or paw of an animal; pierna is only used for human legs). However, a Peruvian uses this term to refer to a close friend (either male or female). If you say : “Carlos es mi pata” you mean “Carlos is one of my friends”.
Other typical slang words for friend in Peruvian: causa, broder.

People use causa when talking about a really close friend, its more personal than pata.


Bacán can be translated as “awesome,” “great,” “cool,” etc. Younger people mainly use it. You can say “qué bacán” when you think that the people you are talking to have said something that you think is interesting or great. You use it to express a favourable opinion.


A chela is a beer. A Peruvian friend will invite you to have drinks with the invitation: let’s go and have “un par de chelas’ (a couple of beers).

Peruvian Slang Chela


Chamba means work, job, employment. Using informal Peruvian slang, you don’t talk about your ‘trabajo’ (job); no, you have a chamba. Directly referring to work or employment, “chamba” is often used in the expression “la chamba es chamba,” meaning “work is work.” The Peruvians even made a verb out of it: chambear = to work.


In Peru, “que piña!” -– means as much as : “Such a bad luck!” Literally, piña means pineapple in Spanish.
If you want to express ‘bad luck’ you can also say: “Piñata”o “estar salado” (it’s means ‘bad luck’ when you spill salt).
Example: Que piña, perdi mi bolso anoche. Or
Estoy salado, pedí mi bolso anoche.

Peruvian Slang Piña


Chevere – like bacán – means: cool, great, awesome. It is used to express a positive opinion of something or someone. A different alternative for ‘chevere’ and ‘bacán is: paja.
Paja often used in the expression “¡qué paja!“, for instance when you talk about a book, a movie, the new sweater of your friend, while ‘chevere’ refers more to situations.
“How were your holidays”? “Muy chévere, gracias’.
Peruvians use ‘bacán’ to talk about another person too. “I met Miguel at the party, he’s very ‘bacán’.


A chibolo in Peru is a young person, generally in their teens. In a certain context it can also mean “kid”. It can be used in a playful way.


Flaco literally means: ‘skinny’. But Peruvians use it to refer to people (e.g. their boyfriend or girlfriend, or a friend). It has no negative connotation. It is more like a friendly way to add some casualness. It also works instead of ‘amigo’ when you want to call a waiter or want to get someone’s attention on the street (for some other reason).


Pituco is used to refer to a wealthy person or to people who act is if the were. It has the connotation: arrogant, snobbish.

Jale means sexy Peru

10. JALE

Jale literally means: to pull. In Peru it can be used to say “sex appeal”. So, if somebody has “jale” it means he or she is very attractive and has something that catches the attention. Jale is a very common word and it may or may not have sexual connotation, it depends on the context.

Abbreviations from Spanish words

There are some slang or ‘jerga’ words in Peru that are simply an abbreviation of common Spanish words. Like for instance

“cole” for colegio,

“cumple” for cumpleaños,

“porfa” for por favor,

“finde” for ‘fin de semana’.

On the markets in Peru, you will also hear “seño” as an abbreviation of “señora”. In this case “seño” sounds nicer and friendlier than the ‘formal word’ “señora”.

Want to learn more Peruvian Spanish?

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