Ecuador might just serve up the best slang in the Spanish-speaking world.
Okay, I’m definitely too biased and not quite well-traveled enough to make that statement—but I just wanted to start off with a bang.
Ecuadorian slang is a unique blend of Spanish, Kichwa (the nation’s indigenous language) and foreign loan words. Not to mention, the slang is as diverse as the nation itself. You’ve got the coast, the mountains and the jungle, all of which have their own unique variations on Spanish and Kichwa.
The variations are striking, so much so that even after spending three months in Quito and chatting constantly with your new Quiteño buddies, the Spanish spoken on the coast or in the jungle can totally throw you for a loop.
So, given that there’s a lot of nuance at play here, how do you know when and how to throw out your Ecuadorian slang?
How to Use Ecua-slang Like an Ecuadorian
The very phrase “ecua-slang” gives me away as a foreigner. Expats living in Ecuador have a strong tendency to prefix many words with Ecua-, often when expressing that that thing is quintessentially Ecuadorian. Like, “Man, I had to go to four different offices and get this document notarized twice today, such an Ecua-day.”
That’s fun to say and all, but what about when you want to blend in and sound Ecuadorian? Here’s what you need to know about native slang usage in Ecuadorian Spanish.
Kichwa words are thrown into conversation casually and regularly, so you’ll need to know the most commonly used vocabulary to get by. Sometimes the Kichwa words are used with a delicate touch of humor, as they indicate that the speaker is a true homeboy.
If you know the indigenous words and use them to describe things that you love or own, then that’s a dead giveaway that you’re an Ecuadorian de corazón (in your heart). The Kichwa slang words can be used in pretty much any situation, in formal or informal conversation, since they’re not suggestive (mostly).
This nation’s sense of humor is unrelentingly cheeky. And by that I mean, butt cheeky. Slapstick and loud, bombastic jokes are the ones that get the most laughs. It’s totally irreverent in the sense that very little is off limits, and things that are typically taken very seriously become the butt of the joke. So, it’s only natural that so much of Ecuadorian slang is super in-your-face.
Many daily things are given more silly-sounding or affectionate slang names. People are called by terms and nicknames which often sound callous or disrespectful to sheltered American ears. You can whip out the more rambunctious or suggestive slang words and use them profusely when it’s time for casual conversation or joke telling.
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You’ll thank me when you’re sipping canelazos in Plaza Fosch (the center of nightlife in Quito) or chilling by a seaside bonfire in Montañita. But we’ll talk even more about Ecuador’s sights and nightlife hotspots in a bit. Let’s get rolling with the slang!
103 Ecuadorian Slang Words That Win Locals’ Hearts
1. Aniñado — Literally, this Spanish word means something akin to “infantile,” “childish” or “spoiled.” This meaning is not totally lost in the slang, as it refers to a wealthy person, usually one from a fancier neighborhood in Quito or Guayaquil. You’ll often hear people exclaim, “¡Qué aniñado!” about stuck-up people or discuss the ulterior motives of los aniñados in politics and social issues.
2. Quitop/Quitoffff — Add a p or an elongated ffff sound to the end of a word which ends in a vowel, and you’ll sound super Quiteño. It’s a defining characteristic of the accent particular to Quito. For this reason, many people will humorously refer to Quito as Quitop or Quitoffff.
3. Chiva — You haven’t truly partied in Ecuador until you’ve ridden on a chiva, or party bus. You all pile on, hold onto the poles and handles for dear life and try to dance salsa while the driver guns it around city streets. Everyone drinks from little plastic cups tied around their necks with string. The bus will even make special stops so you can hop off the bus and dance to Top 40 music at historical sites.
4. Serrano — This means “mountain person” or “highlander,” and is used to refer to anyone living in the mountainous regions of Ecuador. It’s proper Spanish, not quite slang, but it’s important to know for any casual conversation.
5. Sorroche — Altitude sickness. When you catch a bus from the coastal region at 100 MSNM (metros sobre el nivel del mar — meters above sea level) and zoom up to 2,500 MSNM in one 3-hour drive, this is what you might be feeling. Be sure to sip water constantly as you climb in altitude and bring along (my personal favorite sorroche remedy) ginger chews.
6. ¡Chendo! — Just kidding!
8. La Casa Blanca — The stadium where La Liga plays. Since their team color is white, naturally their stadium is known as the White House.
9. Muerte Blanca — Yes, the soccer stadium erupts in chaos, fireworks, loud music, audience chants, vuvuzelas and beer cups flying through the sky. But where does it all begin? The Muerte Blanca, the no-holds-barred section of the stadium where only the most rabid fans are seated.
Guayaquil / Coastal Language
10. Lámpara — Sketchy. If you know how sketchy parts of Guayaquil can be, then you’ll know exactly how handy this word is. It’s used all over Guayaquil nearly constantly, but outside the city don’t be surprised if other people haven’t heard it before. You can say lamparota if something is super sketchy, and you can even use it as an exclamation: ¡Qué lámpara!
11. Mono — Literally means “monkey,” but the slang refers to coastal Ecuadorians. This is sometimes used lovingly, for example, when a coastal girl is called by the nickname la mona or la monita. Other times it’s used not-so-lovingly by people from other regions. Just pay attention to the context!
12. Coco — This favorite coastal fruit (coconut) is also coastal slang for “virgin.”
13. Caleta — Perhaps my favorite coastal slang word, this one literally means “cove,” but actually refers to a house or home. Imagine a lovely rocky outcropping, waves gently breaking and lapping onto the shore—doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to describe your home?
14. Barcelonista — Fan of the Barcelona soccer team in Guayaquil. The other major team in Guayaquil is Emelec.
15. Hornoquil — Fusion of the word horno (oven) and Guayaquil, which is used to curse the at times unbearable heat of this city. Yes, when walking around Guayaquil you might feel like you’re trapped inside an oven, being baked.
16. Guayaco(a) — Of Guayaquil. This isn’t necessarily slang because it can be used more formally, as in, la comida guayaca (Guayaquil food). However, it’s more casual to call your friend la guayaca (the girl from Guayaquil) than it is to call her la guayaquileña, even though they both mean the same thing.
Words with Friends
17. Amiguero(a) — If you’re amiguero, then you’re extra friendly and amiable. This slang adjective is used to describe someone who makes friends quickly and easily.
18. Tímbrame — After you’ve first exchanged numbers, or when you’re making plans to hook up with someone later, you’ll often hear them say, “¡Timbrame!” or “Ring me!” It doesn’t just mean “call me” all the time. Rather, because it costs saldo (phone credit) to place calls, your friend is suggesting that you just set off their ringtone to give them your phone number or let them know you’re ready to meet up.
19. Pana — Buddy. This one belongs more in Guayaquil, but it’s used around the country.
20. El/la man — Ugh, this one is confusing when learning Spanish, mostly because it’s hard to distinguish if the speaker’s talking about a girl or a guy. Man is pronounced “mahn,” with a Spanish accent. El man means something like “the guy” and la man is the female version, best translated as “the chick” or something similar. You can use it to sound chill when referring to any friend, acquaintance or complete stranger.
21. Amiguis — A cutesier way than amigos to say “friends,” best reserved for girlfriends.
22. Porfis — A super cutesy version of por favor used to say “please” in the most adorable way possible. Try making sad puppy eyes when you say this.
23. Mi llave — Literally means, “my key,” and makes no sense in English or Spanish. It’s just a nonsense phrase used to refer to friends humorously and make your sentence sound silly.
Want to sound enthusiastic? Here are all the phrases you’ll need!
24. ¡De ley! — Absolutely!
25. ¡De una! — Absolutely!
26. ¡Pilas! — Look sharp!
27. Simón — Yeah, man!
28. Verás — This is used in a variety of contexts to mean, “You’ll see,” “Watch out,” or “I’m going to say ‘I told you so.'” When making plans to hang out, you can humorously warn your friend not to break the plans by saying “Quedamos para el jueves. ¡Verás!” (We’re on for Thursday. Or else!). You could also use this to warn someone to exercise caution or be wary of the outcome of their actions.
29. Ya saaabe — A super chill way to say, “You already know, man!” or “You know it!” The longer you stretch out that aaaa, the chiller you are.
30. ¿Mande? — Come again? This one has a negative historical context rooted in the times of Spanish conquerors, as it was the proper way for a subject to address their ruler. Mande is the polite “you” form of mandar (to command). Basically, you’re politely asking, “What do you want me to do?” or “What do you command me to do?” It’s considered to be polite, so you may use this as you please in Ecuador with whoever you’re addressing.
31. ¡Chuta! — Shoot! If you’re feeling especially frustrated, try elongating the u and saying chuuuuuta or chuuuu. It’s pretty satisfying, right?
32. -azo — Alright, this one isn’t a word so much as a suffix. Adding it to the end of a word expresses that the thing in question is large. Some examples of its usage are buenazo (awesome) instead of bueno, or ricazo (delicious) instead of rico.
33. ¡Qué huevada! — What a load of crap!
34. ¿La plena? — Really? Seriously?
35. Huevón — Jerk, a**hole. Commonly used between male buddies when joking around.
36. ¡Mentira! — Sure, this word is a proper Spanish word, but it’s used frequently in conversational Ecuadorian Spanish to express disbelief or astonishment. If you’re super incredulous about something your buddy just said, shout “¡Mentira!” in a high-pitched tone of voice.
37. Bacán — Cool
38. Chévere — Cool. This is more common than bacán in Ecuador.
39. ¡Qué asco! — Gross! This can be used humorously during a gross-out story, vulgar joke or gritty story from someone’s last night out. You can also just say “¡Asco!”
40. ¡Carajo! — Darn, damn
41. Fresco — Fresh, smooth. For example, if someone asks you how your trip to the coast went, you can tell them how chill, relaxed and uncomplicated it was by saying, “Todo fresco, man.”
42. Caramba — An exclamation used to express surprise, anger and excitement. It’s often said directly to a misbehaving child or dog and comes off sounding more like, “You rascal!”
43. Cacho — Time-out, pause. This is used by kids when they want to take a time-out from a game like hide and seek. They’ll say, “¡Cacho, cacho, cacho!” and all the other kids come running out from their hiding places. For example, if your group of friends is arguing about where to eat out and can’t decide on a restaurant, you can break in and say, “Cacho, cacho, cacho…” so they quiet down for a minute.
44. ¿¡¿¡Quién dice?!?! — Who says?!?! Say this mischievous phrase when someone tells you that you shouldn’t do something, or that something you want to do is a bad idea. You can’t swim right after eating? You can’t go to that concert on the dangerous side of the city? Who says?!?! This became popular thanks to the Ecuadorian comedy group EnchufeTV—you can watch one video in the famous series here. You’ll also hear a TON of Ecuadorian slang in this video.
45. Cojudo — Silly, stupid person
46. Loquillo — Crazy person
47. Cholo — Tacky, vulgar, in poor taste.
48. ¡Dale! — Hit it!
49. O sea — Used to join thoughts together much like “Ummm….” Drawn out to sound like “o seaaaaaa….” when a long pause is needed in conversation.
50. ¡Sale! — Get out of here! This is shouted like “shoo!” to dogs and other animals.
51. Chucha — Darn! This one’s a bit vulgar and should only be used informally because, in certain contexts, it’s slang for female lady parts.
52. ¡Qué bestia! — “How crazy!” or “That’s wild!” The word bestia means “beast,” so that’s where the wild and crazy element comes from.
53. ¿Qué cosa? — What was that? Say this when you didn’t quite understand someone and want them to repeat or clarify something.
54. ¿Qué fue? — What’s up?
55. ¿Qué más? — What else is up? You can use this after you’ve already asked “¿Qué fue?” and want to encourage your conversation partner to keep chatting about their life.
56. ¡No me jodas! — Don’t mess with me! This is exclaimed to express disbelief or excitement. It can be said playfully to tell a close friend to quit yanking your chain.
57. ¡Ojo! — Watch out!
General Ecuadorian Slang Words
58. Canguil — Popcorn. The non-slang term is palomitas.
59. Chichis — Boobies
60. Estar chiro(a) — To be broke
61. Pelado(a) — Boyfriend (girlfriend)
62. Pelucón — Wealthy person
63. Foco — Flashy, showy
64. Cargoso(a) — Someone who likes to joke around at others’ expenses.
65. Choro — Thief, robber
66. Chapa — Police officer
67. Policía acostado — Speed bump. Literally, it means “police officer laying down.”
68. La yoni — The United States
69. Chompa — Sweater, jacket
70. Acolitar — To help or support
71. Zancudo — Mosquito
English Loan Words in Ecuadorian Spanish
English has made it all over the world, so it’s no real surprise that it’s made it to Ecuador. As always, the youth adopt what’s “cool” in modern culture. Here are some of the English loan words that you can expect to hear in Ecuador.
72. Full — Full, total, complete, crowded. Full is pronounced with a Spanish accent (“fool”) and precedes nouns as an adjective. For example, ¡Full fiesta! (Total party!)
73. Cool — Same as English!
74. Fresh — Fresh (as in fresh air) or chill, relaxed
75. Relax — This is spoken with an elongated rolled rr sound, and is spoken as a one-word motto. Like, hey man: rrrrrrrelax.
76. Super — Can be used to replace muy or demasiado.
77. Happy — How you feel after a night of partying, tipsy.
78. Broder — Brother. This is used like “bro.” It’s pronounced with a strong rr roll and an extra long oooo, like “broooooder.”
79. Chance — When you’re out of options you can say, “No hay chance,” (There’s no way) or you could say “¡Dame otra chance!” (Give me another chance!) when playing a video game and failing. It’s pronounced more like “chans” or perhaps the name “Chauncey.”
Ecuadorian Party Words
When you get to Ecuador, you’ve got to be prepared for a party or two. Grab your favorite beer—are you more into Pilsener, Club or Brahma? If you said Brahma, we can’t be friends, and Club is only acceptable if you’ve found a nice potent bottle of Club Rojo or Club Negro.
You could also opt for a michelada (beer and lime juice with salt around the glass rim) or some caña manabita.
80. Finde — The shortened slang version of fin de semana (weekend).
81. Chumar — To drink
82. Chumado(a) — Drunk
83. Chupado — Drunk
84. Biela — Beer
85. Trago — Drink, shot
86. Vacilar — Dance provocatively, suggestively with someone; hook up
87. Agarrar — Hook up, make out
88. Jaba — A crate of 12 beers. This is the cheapest way to buy them, as you can usually get 12 beers for $10. Nice!
89. La farra — Party
90. Changar — Hook your legs around someone when dancing, cuddling, etc.
91. Arrecho — This all-purpose adjective expresses a heightened state of emotion. If you say that you’re arrecho, it could mean that you’re feeling awesome, frustrated, infuriated, energetic or ecstatic. It’s a great word to have on hand for party night!
92. Embalado — Super exited, pumped
93. Cueeeeeenta — “Tell me!” or “Spill!” Say this when you want your friend to spill her juiciest gossip over a beer.
94. Chuchaqui — Hungover/hangover. What you’ll be feeling after you sample all those drinks. This word also belongs to the next section as it’s derived from Kichwa.
Kichwa Derived Slang in Ecuador
95. Wambra or Guambra — Kid
96. Wawa or guagua — Baby
97. Taita or tayta — Dad, father
98. Achachai — Cold. Say “¡Achachai!” when you’re chilly and shivering.
99. Arrarrai — Hot. Say “¡Arrarrai!” with strongly rolled rr sounds when you burn yourself.
100. Ñaño(a) — Brother (sister)
101. Chullo — One. For example, “Solo tengo un chullo zapato” (I only have one shoe!)
102. Yucho — Naked, stark naked
103. Chancleta — Sandal, flip flop. You can also have la chancleta de biela (the case of beer).
Alright, guys. That’s all the Ecuadorian slang you could ever want to know. It seems like a lot but, believe me, there’s still more out there for you to discover. Wherever you go in Ecuador, you’re sure to encounter new ways of playing with the language that never occurred to you before.
I think you’re officially ready to ship off to Ecuador and hit the Mariscal.
Enjoy, and have an extra canelazo or two for me!
Maureen Stimola is a Vermont native with her heart in Latin America. She has a lifelong passion for travel, science, languages and crazy things like snowboarding in Argentina and Chile.
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