Beyond Casual Spanish: Exploring Unique Salvadoran Slang

Grover Laughton7 min
Created: Apr 25, 2024Last updated: May 1, 2024
Salvadoran Slang

El Salvador, a beautiful country in Central America, is known not only for being a Land of Volcanoes but also for its exquisite slang and tons of vivid expressions. Although the official language of the country is Spanish, Salvadoran slang is quite rare and unique. In today’s article, we’ll explore some of the most widespread phrases and colloquial expressions to expand your vocabulary and take a glance at the beautiful culture of this fascinating country. So keep reading, and let’s jump right in!

Salvadoran Spanish Slang Phrases You Need to Know

In addition to Spanish, people in El Salvador speak several languages, including English, French, Cacaopera, Nawat, and some other indigenous tongues. Therefore, there are numerous unique expressions you can hear from locals. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most widespread El Salvador slang phrases for you.

  • Está Yuca – [es’ta ˈʝuka] – It’s tough/hard.

Starting strong with a common expression that you’ll hear a lot in El Salvador. It is used when you want to complain about something being too difficult to do. For example:

¡Esta tarea está yuca! (This homework is tough!)

  • Vaya pues – [ˈbaʝa ˈpweɪs] – See you later.

This one has several meanings but is mostly used when casually saying goodbye to someone. Also, depending on the context, it might mean “Ok,” “Let’s go,” or even “That’s what I’m saying.” For example:

Bueno, me voy. ¡Vaya pues! (Well, I’m off. See you tomorrow.)

  • ¡Puchica! – [puˈtʃika] – Darn/shoot.

If you need a tough phrase to express frustration but don’t want to swear, this exclamation is a perfect example of Salvadorian words you can use instead of cussing. For example:

¡Puchica! No puedo creerlo. (Darn! I can’t believe it.)

  • ¿Qué onda(s)? – [ke ˈon.da(s)] – What’s up?/How’s it going?

This phrase is perfect for anyone looking for a casual greeting or a simple way to start a conversation. It is a great way to ask your interlocutor about their well-being without being overly polite and formal. For example:

¿Qué onda, cómo estás? (What’s up, how are you?)

  • ¡Chivo! – [’tʃi.βo] – Ok, cool, nice, great.

For those looking for a versatile term that can be used as a way to convey agreement or say that something is cool – you should definitely memorize this word. For example:

¡Chivo! Esa película estuvo genial. (Cool! That movie was great.)

  • Es de choto – [es de ˈtʃ] – It’s for free!

If you’re lucky enough to get something for free in the country, use these El Salvador words to tell about your gift to your friends! They are typically used to say that something was entirely free of charge. For example:

Me regalaron este café. ¡Es de choto! (They gave me this coffee for free. It’s on the house!)

  • Buena onda – [ˈ ˈon.da] – Good vibes.

The last phrase on the list is used to describe someone or something that gives off very positive energy or has a good attitude. For example:

Ese chico siempre tiene buena onda. (That guy always has good vibes.)


Salvadoran Slang Words to Spice Up Your Conversations

In addition to amazing slang phrases, there are also plenty of unique colloquial expressions you can hear on the streets of El Salvador. And, of course, we can’t leave them behind. In the list below, we’ve compiled some of the most widespread slang terms and the ways of using them in Salvadoran phrases and sentences.

  • Bajonear – [ba.xoˈnɛ.ar] – To eat a lot, especially comfort food.

Después de la fiesta, fuimos a bajonear. (After the party, we went to eat.)

Vamos a bajonear algo, tengo hambre. (Let’s go eat something, I’m hungry.)

  • Bicho – [ˈbi.tʃo] – Kid or young person.

Ese bicho siempre está jugando en la calle. (That kid is always playing in the street.)

Dile a ese bicho que venga a comer. (Tell that young person to come eat.)

  • Cabal – [kaˈbal] – Exactly/right.

Cabal, así es como se hace. (Exactly, that’s how it’s done.)

Te quedó cabal el traje. (The suit fits you exactly right.)

  • Chero – [ˈtʃ] – Friend.

Vamos al cine con los cheros. (We’re going to the movies with friends.)

Ella es mi chera desde la infancia. (She has been my friend since childhood.)

  • Bayunco – [baˈʝun.ko] – Silly/crazy.

No seas bayunco, ¡comportate! (Don’t be silly, behave!)

Ese bayunco siempre hace reír a todos. (That crazy guy always makes everyone laugh.)

  • Alero – [aˈle.ɾo] – Close friend.

Mi alero siempre me apoya. (My close friend always supports me.)

Vamos a salir este fin de semana con los aleros. (We’re going out this weekend with close friends.)

  • Chucho – [ˈtʃu.tʃo] – Dog.

Ese chucho siempre ladra en la noche. (That dog always barks at night.)

Adopté un chucho del refugio. (I adopted a dog from the shelter.)

  • Aguja – [aˈɣuxa] – Ready, prepared, focused.

Siempre llega aguja a las reuniones. (He always arrives ready and focused for meetings.)

Para el examen, tienes que estar aguja. (For the exam, you need to be prepared.)

  • Arrecho – [aˈretʃo] – Awesome, perfect.

Ese concierto estuvo arrecho. (That concert was awesome.)

¡Qué jugada arrecha! (What a perfect play!)

  • Cacaso – [kaˈ] – Something ugly, sad, or poorly done.

Esa pintura quedó un cacaso. (That painting turned out ugly.)

La comida en ese restaurante fue un cacaso. (The food at that restaurant was poorly done.)

  • Remar – [reˈmar] – To walk a long way for a long time.

Tuvimos que remar desde el bus hasta nuestra casa por la huelga. (We had to walk a long way from the bus to our house because of the strike.)

Cuando se descompuso el carro, remamos un montón para llegar a la ciudad. (When the car broke down, we walked a long time to get to the city.)

  • Pisto – [ˈ] – Money.

No tengo suficiente pisto para comprar eso. (I don’t have enough money to buy that.)

¡Qué bueno que me pagaron, ya tengo pisto para salir este fin de semana! (I’m glad I got paid, now I have money to go out this weekend!)

Master El Salvadorian Slang with Promova

Learning slang phrases is highly beneficial for anyone aiming to become fluent in Spanish or any other language. Yet, to become fully proficient, it is necessary to focus on different language skills, like reading, speaking, listening, and writing. And at Promova, we’ve got you covered! You can install our convenient application and access all the tools and features you need for a pleasant learning experience.

  1. Engaging lessons. Our interactive classes are created by language professionals, making them helpful and fun for students with different fluency levels. Regardless of your learning style, you can find everything you need within the application.
  2. Bite-sized learning. You don’t have to spend hours on boring studies! With Promova, you can focus only on the essential things and still achieve significant results.
  3. Studying on the go. Since the app is available for all modern iOS and Android devices, you can easily install it and access your courses whenever and wherever it is convenient for you.
  4. Multilingual approach. Within the application, you can learn several languages at the same time. Whether you want to master Spanish, Korean, French, English, or some other tongues, we’ve got you covered!

With the Promova app, your language studying can become extremely pleasant and efficient. So what are you waiting for? Hit on the installation button, and give Promova a try. Spend only a few minutes a day and reach your linguistic goals! 


El Salvador, like any other country in Central America, has numerous slang expressions. So, if you want to communicate with and understand locals easily, you definitely need to memorize one or two. However, always be aware of context and circumstances. Remember that slang expressions are only appropriate to use in casual settings when you’re communicating with people you are familiar with. And that’s it for now! Tell us about your favorite slang terms in the comments, and we’ll see you in the next article!


Is there a difference between Spanish and El Salvador words?

Totally! There are several notable variations between standard Spanish and the variety spoken in El Salvador. Like other regional dialects, Salvadoran Spanish has unique vocabulary, pronunciation, idiomatic expressions, and slang that sometimes vary significantly from what is taught in most Spanish learning classes.

Why should I learn Salvadorian sayings and slang terms?

Firstly, of course, it is a great way to expand your vocabulary and boost confidence when communicating with locals. Using slang expressions in your speech makes it sound more natural and easy-going. Additionally, it is a great way to peek at another culture and see the communication patterns between native speakers.

Are there any tips for memorizing Salvadorian slang?

The first advice we can give you is to always learn slang in context. Whether by communicating with locals or watching YouTube videos, it is vital to memorize not only the pronunciation and meaning of the word but also the appropriate context for using it in a conversation. Another great tip is to practice regularly – the more you do it, the easier it is for you to memorize slang and use it in casual interactions.

What are some other slang terms popular in Central America?

Ah, there are so many of them! For example, in Honduras, you’ll frequently hear the word chamba [ˈtʃ], which means “job” or “work.” In Guatemala, they use the term chilero [tʃiˈle.ɾo] to describe something awesome and cool. And in Nicaragua, locals might call foreigners chele [ˈtʃe.le] – a word used to describe a pale, blond, light-skinned person.