How do Colombians say hello

A Gringo's Guide to Colombian Slang

Author: Betsy Gibson | Last updated:

Colombia's main language is Spanish, with accents that vary slightly between regions. While this is true, Colombian Spanish is fairly clear and easy to understand (Bogotanos has a neutral accent) which makes Colombia a great place to learn or improve Spanish. As in any country, Colombians have their own slang words and phrases that can be used in different and specific contexts and have different meanings than what you can expect. The following sentences are typical Colombian slang words and phrases; These can be used to improve your understanding while visiting the country.

Jardin, Colombia © Pedro Szekely / Flickr

Con mucho gusto translates directly to "with pleasure"; It is used as a gesture to thank someone and its equivalent would be "no problem" or "you're welcome." Colombians are generally polite individuals and respond with glee and joy. Chino or China - while this translates directly to "Chinese", Colombians use it to refer to a boy or a girl - for example, "hola china" would mean "hey girl". Tinto - If you asked for a tinto in a restaurant you would get a little Colombian coffee with no milk. Colombians love coffee, which is no wonder considering it's a huge export item from Colombia. While it is largely exported, Colombians still enjoy their coffee the same way people in other countries do, with many brands choosing to sell within the country rather than export.

Juan Valdez - a major Colombian coffee producer © Camilo Marino / Flickr

Qué Mas? - This is a form of introduction and translates to something similar to "What's up?" Colombians use this as a greeting between friends. Finca - many Colombians have or are allowed to visit a finca for the weekend or vacation; it refers to a farm or country house away from the city. Guaro - Aguardiente is a Colombian alcoholic drink that is usually drunk as a shot. It is sold in boxes and bottles, and it is normal at an evening social event for a bottle to be purchased and shared between a group of people. Guaro is the abbreviation for Aguardiente. But if you drink too much guaro, you can end up with a guayabo, which means "hangover".

Guaro © Jorge / Flickr

Qué pena has the same meaning as the Spanish expression "lo siento", which means "I'm sorry," but it can also mean "sorry". Chévere is a Colombian slang word that has a meaning similar to "cool" or "great". Something or someone can be chévere. Colombia has a lot of slang words to describe people from its regions or other countries. When you are a gringo / gringa you are usually from the US, but the word is sometimes used to refer to someone who is not Colombian. If you are a paisa, you are native to the Paisa region of Colombia - for example, Medellin. If someone is from Bogotá they might be known as Bogotano or Rolos, and if you are from the coast of Colombia you might be known as Costeño. A La Orden - that means "at your service" or "can I help you?" This is often used by waiters, restaurant workers, shopkeepers, or service staff as a thank you. Plata translates directly to "silver," but Colombians use plata to refer to money in general. Gordo / Gorda - This literally means "fat", but Colombians use it as a nickname. Buenas is a short form of or slang word for buenas dias, buenas noches or buenas tarde. This is a way of saying "hello" or "good morning / evening" and it is used as a short and simple way to say hello or to say hello to a person.

Bogotá at dawn © Fernando Garcia / Flickr

These words are commonly used by Colombians and can be learned to help people understand what is happening in a conversation when one of them shows up. These words are commonly used across the country, but individual regions also have their own slang words or different ways of saying things.

Author: Betsy Gibson

Betsy Gibson is a 27 year old journalist. Music fan. Zombie Maven. Writer. Social media ninja. Entrepreneur. Bacon junkie. Angry humble TV nerd.