Handy-Dandy Glossary

April’s Guide to Ecuadorian Spanish and Slang

I like using Spanish in my posts. Sometimes it’s just appropriate. The trouble is that Spanish is one of those languages where a word can mean something different between Spain and Latin America, between Central America and South America, between Columbia and Ecuador, sometimes words even mean different things between here and the closest city.

This little “glossary” is based on my experience with how these words are used in this very specific part of the world. Most of these are words that you will not find in your dictionary, or if they are, they’ll have a very different definition than the way that we use it here. I find examining colloquialisms to be an interesting way to learn about the culture that produced them, and the interplay between English and Spanish words can be hilarious. If you’re planning on a visit here, hopefully this bit of Ecuadorian Spanish and street Spanish could come in handy. ¡Disfrutalo!


abril (adj) – Stupid, dumb. This comes from the fact that in this part of Ecuador, high school kids who do badly in school have to take classes in the month of April to make up for the things they failed during the semester. Makes my name a bit inconvenient : No seas abril. – Don’t be a dumbass.
.        (n) – The fourth month of the year.
.        (n) – the first name of the most awesome blogger in all the land.

adiós (n) – Here, adiós is a super serious, I-may-never-see-you-again, type of goodbye. Use if you’re breaking up with someone, or saying goodbye to a friend heading off to the other side of the world. For a normal goodbye, see chao.

ají (n) – Hot peppers or hot sauce. Ecuadorian ají is more like what we Americans would call a spicy salsa.

Babilonia (n) – Nickname given to Montañita by the people of Manglaralto. Babylon, as in that city in the bible that represents cultural and ethnic diversity, but also sin, false religion, and all evil things in general, so much so that God had to smite them a bit. Used in a light-hearted way : Party tonight in Babilonia, woohoo!

broder (n) – ‘Brother’ with an Ecuadorian accent : ¿Qué tal broder? – What’s up brother?

cachudo (n) – A cuckold, a.k.a. someone whose significant other is cheating on him/her.
.               (n) – Someone who is not seeing something obvious :  You’re such a cachudo, your glasses are right there on your head!

cagar (v) – A word meant to add emphasis to how intensely you are doing something : Me cagué de la risa. – I was laughing so hard.
.          (v) – To beat someone : ¡Si no haces lo que te digo, te cago! – If you don’t do what I say, I’m gonna kick your ass!
.          (v) – Vulgar way to say defecate.

chao (n) – Goodbye, bye, see ya. Stolen from the Italian ciao and spelled differently. Used instead of adiós, since adiós is a grave, “goodbye forever” sorta thing.

chato (n) – A 20 to 30-something year old from Manglaralto. This term was originally used for a group of local surfer dudes who grew up together, but being that it is a small village and everyone is friendly with everyone, the name has expanded over time to include most of everyone from Manglaralto in that age group : There were only a few chatos at the party last night, the rest were from Montañita.

chico/a (n) – Guy, dude, bro, girl, chick. Use for people who are no longer niños or niñas but who are not yet señores or señorasMuchacho isn’t used in Ecuador so much.

chilajarse (v) – Chillax. In English, a combo of the words “chill” and “relax”. In Spanish, a combo of the words “chill” and relajarse : Chilajate broder, todo estará bien. – Chillax bro, everything is gonna be fine.

chinaso/a (adj) – Very high/stoned, exclusively in reference to marijuana. Comes from the word chino, meaning chinese, and the idea that your eyelids get really heavy when your stoned. Super racist, I know.

chucha (n) – A vulgar word for a part of the female anatomy.
.       (interj) – Most often used as a ubiquitous filler expletive when chitchatting, or what you yell out when you stub your toe, like the word f*** in English : “…entonces, chucha chico, dije, ‘chucha, yo no lo sé.’ Me entiendes?” – “…and then, f*** man, I was like, ‘I don’t f***ing know.’ Know what I mean?
.                ¡¿Qué chucha te pasa?! – What your f***ing problem?!
.                 ¡Chucha su/tu madre! – (If you’re just saying it…) Goddamn it!
.                                                      – (If you are saying it to someone…) F*** your mother!
.             (n) – The Colombians say it’s not a curse word at all but just a word for armpit, or body odor.

colorado/a (adj) – rosy, blush : Me puse colorada. – I blushed.
.                    (n) – Someone who is caucasian, as in someone who is white enough to get “rosy” when embarrassed, or drunk, or sunburnt : Hubo muchas coloradas aquí el fin de semana pasado. – There where a lot of white girls here last weekend.
.                    (n) – An Ecuadorian who is lighter skinned then average, or an attractive Ecuadorian. (Colorado technically is used to refer to non-latinos or “white-latinos”, like the word gringo or rubio, however I have noticed it used for girls who are dark-skinned and very pretty. To me this is clear evidence of a form of intra-group racism since they are using a word that’s used to mean “white” in lieu of the word “pretty”. Locals I point this out to like to argue with me, but I have yet to be convinced otherwise. Imagine hearing someone tell a beautiful black girl, “Wow! White girl, you look so pretty!”)

cuy (n) – Guinea pig. Usually roasted and eaten in the Sierra regions. Coastal Ecuadorians, for the most part, think that eating cuy is weird.

estadounidense (n) – The nationality of someone from the United States of America. Saying your an americano will offend some people since it implies that people from the United States are trying to claim the identity of two entire continents for themselves. Anyone who lives in the Americas (North and South) is technically an americano. If you can’t pronounce estadounidense (it’s a mouthful), you can say your norteamericano (North American, which is still kinda awkward because where does that leave Canada?), or avoid the whole issue by just saying, “Soy de [insert your home state]”, (which is what I do since people seem to have friendly feelings towards New York than they do towards the USA in general.)

extranjero/a (n) – Foreigner. Anyone not from Ecuador.

flaco/a (adj/n) – Unlike in other places where flaco is a little insulting (like emaciated, or frail), here it just means slim. Or sometimes it just means ‘not fat’. I would not consider myself as falling under the definition of ‘skinny’. My BMI fits neatly right in the middle of ‘normal’ on the chart, but it is not unusual for me to be called flaca when I’m walking around : “Hola flaca, dónde vas?” – “Hey (skinny) girl, where you going?”

gordo/a (adj/n) Technically, it means fat, but mostly it just means ‘not skinny’. In English you don’t just throw the word fat around, especially when talking to women, without expecting a black eye, but gorda doesn’t have the same negative connotations. It’s not an insult, and usually you’re not actually saying the person is fat. Curvy is probably a better translation. I have been called flaca, the same day that I’ve been called gorda. No need to take offense if someone uses it in reference to you : “Hola gorda, dónde vas?” –  “Hey (curvy) girl, where you going?”

gringuero/a (n) – A Montañita local or replant from another city or country, who hangs out in order to pick up gringos/as who are here on vacation. They play novio/a for the few weeks or months that the gringo/a is here, and then move on to the next one after they leave. Many also find ways to get their temporary gringo/a to support them while they are here, by paying for food, hostels, picking up some new clothes for them, etc. Basically a vacation prostitute, but where the “john” doesn’t necessarily realize that he/she is a “john”.

guatita (n) – Also known as ‘guata’. It is a delicious traditional Ecuadorian dish made with tripe that’s slow cooked in a rich peanut sauce and served over rice. I load mine up with ají before eating it. Many people, including most extranjeros and many locals, won’t touch the stuff, but I’m a little obsessed. It’s usually only served in a few places on Sundays mornings.

guitarra (n) – A stringed musical instrument that magically causes the person playing it to appear more attractive. Most often seen in the hands of older señores who know what they’re doing, and in the hands of younger chatos and waikis who don’t know what their doing but have discovered the magical effects.

lanzar (v) – to be stoned, to get stoned.

longboard (n) – A really tall girl. Classic misogynistic objectification of a woman based in a machismo culture but with a surfer twist, I know.

mun (n) – ‘Man’ with an Ecuadorian accent. Pronounced so that it rhymes with the word ‘sung’ : ¡Este mun es mi mejor amigo! – This guy is my best friend!
.              – Hilariously, it’s also used for women! : ¡Esa mun es loca! – That girl is crazy!

ñaño/a (n) – The people who you are emotionally closest to in your life, siblings, cousins, or best friends. Comes from the Quechua word for brother/sister : No es sola una amiga, es mi ñaña. – She not just my friend, she’s my ñaña.

ñaño/a (de pierna/socio) (n) – The other man or woman who your significant other is sleeping with : Oye negra, I saw your boyfriend with another chick last night. ¡I think you have a ñaña!

necia (adj) – A word frequently used to describe April by her friends and loved ones. Stubborn, headstrong, obstinate, a general pain in the ass :  ¡¿Chica necia, porque nunca me escuchas?! – Stubborn girl, why don’t you ever listen to me!

negro/a (n) – Friend, buddy, bro, dude, and the female equivalents. Used by coastal Ecuadorians amongst each other, but also used casually for any friend who is not obviously caucasian. Please note that Ecuador does not have the same charged racial history surrounding this word that we have in the States. Using it is not making any kind political or racial statement, nor is it “taking it back” since it was never taken away to begin with. Negro means “black”, it does not mean “negro” in the way Americans used to use it, or “n***er”, or any of that craziness. It’s just black. That said, don’t go throwing that around like it’s nothing other parts of Latin America or Ecuador. I can only vouch for here : ¡Mi negro! ¿Que tal? – My man! Whassup?
(adj) – The color back.

paco (n) – An insulting term for a police man. Akin to pig, doughnut-patrol, popo, irish-mafia : Todos los malditos pacos son tan corruptos. – All the goddamn pigs are so corrupt.

perrita (n) – The diminutive of perra, meaning a female dog. Perra is used in a derogatory offensive way for a woman who is sexually nasty/easy.
.            (n) – Since none of my friends are assholes, the only way we use this word is to talk about a surf board : I bought a brand new 6′ 5″ perrita yesterday! 

policía (n) – The way to say paco without getting in trouble : Todas los simpáticos policías son tan agradables. – All the nice policemen are so pleasant.

queso (adj) – When you are having a ‘dry spell’. When you haven’t had sex in a really long time : Pobre Gijs está (hecho) queso desde que llegó. – Poor Gijs hasn’t gotten laid since he got here.
.            (n) – Cheese.

rastas (n) – Dreadlocks. The hairstyle prefered by many artisans, performers, and hippies from all over the continent and the world who’ve adopted Montañita as their temporary home. Not common among locally born Ecuadorians : That guy’s rastas are really long!

rubio/a (n) – Technically, it means a blonde. In practice, it is used for any light-skinned person who doesn’t have black hair. In other words, a nice way of saying gringo.

tripear (v) – To trip (out). In the same way we use “trip out” it in English, it can be referring to a drug experience, or to just being in awe of or really enjoying something :
.             Estuve tripeando en la “Rasta Party” anoche. – I was tripping at the Rasta Party last night.
.            Estoy tripeando con esta caida de sol! – I’m really loving this sunset!
.           (v) – To hang out with someone : Estuvimos tripeando para la playa. – We were hanging out at the beach.
.           (n) – the noun form, trip, is most often used to describe a person that you enjoy : Eso mun es un buen trip. – That’s a good guy

vacán (inj) – Awesome. Amazingly flipping cool. Other versions include vacancisimo. The Peruvians spell it bacan, and the Columbians say bacano.

vago (adj) – To describe someone who only wants to hang out and surf, unmotivated, no desire to work or go to school, lazy : No quiero trabajar hoy. Me siento vago. – I don’t want to work today. I’m feeling vago.
            (n) – A traveling artisan or hippy who lives outside the “system”, a vagabond : A veces, quiero dejar todo y vivir como un vago. – Sometimes, I just want to leave everything and live like a bum.

verga (n) – A vulgar word for a part of the male anatomy. Used in many different ways :
             ¡Andate a la verga! – Go f*** yourself!
             ¡Verga, lo olvidé! – S***, I forgot!
             ¡Estuve en la verga anoche! – I was f***ed up (very drunk) last night!
.            ¡No conoces ni verga!– You don’t know s**t!

waiki (n) – A hippy, vagabond, or traveling artisan, performer, or bum that comes through Montañita selling his/her wares or services on the street. Usually of Argentinean, Columbian, and Chilean descent : Te pareces waiki con estas rastas. – You look like a hippy with those dreadlocks.

5 thoughts on “Handy-Dandy Glossary

  1. Pingback: New Words | Aventuras de Abril

  2. Abril, Thanks so much for this. I love it. One of my good friend is the chairman of the Spanish Department at his school, so I am going to pass this on to him. (His focus is mainly on Europe, but the majority of teachers focus on South America. I speak pidgin Spanish at best, but will be adding some of these terms in soon. I love it. Thanks.

  3. awesome! its the langue we use in the cocino! Yo aprendi todos a mi espanol(spanglish) en la cocino y k dice tu dice es verdad para chapinos, bariquas y dominicanos tambien

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