Peruvian slang words and phrases, known as jerga, can be heard throughout the country. You’ll also come across plenty of slang in Peru’s trashy and sensationalist tabloid newspapers. Even if you’ve perfected your spoken Spanish, some of these words may have you scratching your head. So, here are a few common slang expressions that you might hear while travelling in Peru.
Updated to include many of the suggestions left by readers. Thanks for the input, keep ’em coming!
Warning: If you are easily offended, which I hope you are not, please exercise caution when reading the comments at the end of the article. You will find some colorful language down there, but it all fits in with the Peruvian slang theme. Thanks.
Peruvian Slang Words A-E
- a su madre – a common expression of surprise, often shortened to just “asu!” Despite the presence of the word “mother,” the expression is not rude (but don’t go experimenting with “mother” expressions – you could get in trouble).
- achorado — an aggresive or “low living” person (sometimes used to refer to “undesirable” types from slum areas).
- al toque – right away, straight away. Bear in mind that “right away,” like mañana, could mean a few hours or a few weeks in Peru.
- arrecho (a) — to be horny, turned on (estar arrecho).
- asado – angry, irritated. Literally “roast” or “roasting,” so a visual expression.
- bacán – cool
- bamba – fake, imitation. You might hear this in Peruvian markets, where fake goods and fake money are both in circulation.
- blanca – cocaine. Literally “white.”
- brócoli – a homosexual man. Originates from cabro (below): cabro, cabrócoli, brócoli.
- bróder — friend, amigo (from the English “brother”)
- cabro – a homosexual or effeminate man.
- calabaza — stupid, empty headed.
- calato – naked.
- causa — a close friend.
- cocho (a) — an old person.
- cojudo (a) — an idiot, dumbass.
- conchudo – shameless, rascal.
- costilla – girlfriend. Literally “rib,” a reference to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib.
- chamba – work, employment.
- chancha – a collection of money between friends, normally to pay for beer. A whip-round (read more about drinking beer in Peru).
- chato – short, used to describe a person (often used as a nickname).
- charapa – the charapa (Podocnemis expansa) is a species of turtle found in the Peruvian Amazon region. The term charapa is used to refer to Peruvians from the jungle regions (generally derogatory, offensive if used in an aggressive or mocking manner).
- chongo – whorehouse, brothel.
- chela – a beer. The standard invitation is to go drink “un par de chelas” (a couple of beers); this normally turns into eight or more and you may find yourself cheleando all night long (find out which Peruvian beer is the best).
- chévere – cool, great, awesome (like bacán)
- chibolo – a young person, generally in their teens.
- chibolero – a man who dates girls much younger than himself.
- choche (also chochera) — friend.
- choro — a thief.
- chupar – to drink alcohol. Literally “to suck,” like “sucking on a beer”.
- churro — an attractive or handsome man.
- doble filo – bisexual. Literally “double edged.”
Peruvian Slang Words F-O
- fercho — chauffer, driver (an example of syllable reversal in Peruvian slang: chofer becomes fercho).
- figureti — a poser, show-off.
- flaco (a) — boyfriend or girlfriend (lit. “skinny”).
- florear — to lie, flatter or exaggerate, usually with the aim of getting something (a floro would be a type of lie)
- fuiste – gone, the moment has passed, missed opportunity. “Ya fuiste!”
- fumón – pot smoker.
- germa — a girl or girlfriend.
- grone – black, or a black-skinned person. An example of Peruvian slang where the order of the syllables has been reversed: negro = grone. You may see this used in graffiti, where Zona Grone means Black Zone, an Alianza Lima football fan tag.
- huachimán – watchman (from the English word). A huachimán in Peru is a private security guard, often one who patrols a specific street or block at night.
- huasca — the state of being drunk, wasted, or otherwise shitfaced (“Cómo vas a manejar si estás huasca?”). Not to be confused with Huascar, which is an Inca ruler, the name of Miguel Grau’s ship, and a bar in Tarapoto)
- jale – a person’s attractiveness or sex-appeal. Literally a person’s “pull”: the ability to draw in the opposite sex.
- jama — food (jamear — to eat).
- jato — house.
- jugador(a) – a player, womaniser, promiscuous person.
- lechero — a lucky or fortunate person.
- luca – one Peruvian Nuevo Sol (mil lucas = 1,000 soles).
- mamacita – hot or sexy woman. Literally “little mama,” it’s not the most romantic expression, more an “Oh boy, check out that mamacita!” kind of thing.
- mañoso – a slime bag, a person who is over familiar with women (often in a physical, touchy-feely way).
- miércoles – literally “Wednesday,” but used instead of “mierda” (shit).
- misio — poor, broke.
- monse – stupid, dim-witted, slow.
Peruvian Slang Words P-Z
- paja — cool, awesome (like chévere).
- pajear — to masturbate (a pajero would therefore be a… you know).
- papaya — used to refer to the female sexual organ.
- pata – guy. Used informally to refer to almost anyone. If there is a possessive involved (such as “mi pata,” “tu pata”) it refers to a friend (“my friend,” “your friend”).
- pendejo (a) – a sly, sharp, but generally untrustworthy person.
- pichanga – an informal football kick-around amongst friends.
- piña – bad luck.
- pituco — a wealthy person (typically implies a rich, arrogant, snobbish person). Read more about pitucos at Streets of Lima.
- por las puras – to do something for nothing, no reason, a waste of time.
- profe – short for “professor,” often used by Peruvian street vendors, shoe-shine guys etc to get the attention of well-dressed, business-like people walking down the street. It’s friendly and not disrespectful.
- pucha – used instead of the much stronger “puta” (“bitch” or “whore”), as an expression of disgust, distaste, surprise, relief etc, not literally (and not in reference to a particular person). The origin of the word is disputed (see comments below).
- roche – shame. “Que roche!” (“What a shame!”)
- suzuki – dirty. A play on “sucio,” the Spanish word for dirty.
- tombo – a policeman.
- tonear — to party, to dance (tono — a party)
- yapa — the extra (when you finish a glass of fruit juice, the vendor may top it up with the yapa, or extra, that remains in the jug).
Add to the Peruvian Slang Dictionary for Peru Travel
The above Peruvian slang words and phrases are some of the most commonly heard in Peru, but there are plenty more out there. Feel free to add to this little Peruvian slang dictionary in the comments box below. Thanks!