20 words that only make sense in Colombia

Chévere, Intenso, Mecato, Bacano
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Has someone ever given you “cantaleta”? Or have you ever felt “amañado” on a new place? Have you met an “intenso”? Or experienced something “hostigante”? Don’t worry, we know Colombian slang can be hard to navigate. That's why here, we give you the essential guide for words you will only hear from Colombians.

Amañado: adj. coloq. The adaptation to or enjoyment of a new situation. Similar to: Loving it.  Ella está muy amañada en su nuevo trabajo. (She’s really loving her new job)

Bacano: adj. coloq. 1. Something particularly good. Similar to: Awesome, excellent. Es una película bacana. ¡Qué almuerzo tan bacano! (It’s an excellent film. What an awesome lunch!) 2. A person of whom you have a good impression. Similar to: Great, cool. Ella es una bacana (She’s great, she’s cool)

Cantaleta: verb. coloq. The frequent repetition of a topic or subject until it annoys the listener. Similar to: Nag or badger. “Ay mamá, usted si da cantaleta,” (“Mu-um, you really know how to nag.”)

Discover more Colombian phrases and sayings and their translations.

Desentejado: adj. coloq. Balding. Someone who’s losing his hair, or almost bald. Tan joven y ya está desentejado,” (“So young and he’s already lost his hair).”

Enguayabado: adj. coloq. 1. Recovering from the effect of alcohol consumption. 2. Hangovered.

Fritanga: noun. coloq. A dish of Colombian delicacies, including chorizo sausage, criollo potatoes (a small yellow variety) blood sausage, plantain and chicharrón (pork rinds). Also known as a picada.

Gallinacear: verb. coloq. To seek romantic conquests. Similar to: Make a play/hit on someone. “Él está gallinaceando con las meseras,” (He’s hitting on with the waitresses)

Hostigante: adj. A too-sweet food or drink. Similar to: Saccharine/sickly sweet. “Esta torta quedó muy hostigante.” (This cake is too sweet, it’s sickly)

Intenso: adj. coloq. Irritating, over-the-top, annoying. “¡No sea tan intenso!” (Stop being so annoying!)

Jartera: noun. coloq. 1. Annoying, bothersome. 2. Exhausting, boring. Similar to: Fed up/had enough. “¡Qué jartera con tanto trámite!” (I’m sick of all this bureaucracy!)

Líchigo: adj. coloq. Tight-fisted, cheap, shabby. Similar to: Cheapskate.

Mecato: noun. Treat you eat between meals. Similar to: Snack.

Necio: noun. coloq. Someone that can’t stay still, irritating. Similar to: Pain-in-the-backside (or less polite alternatives).

Onces: noun. plural. Snack taken between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. Similar to: Elevenses/afternoon tea.

Parcero (Parce): m and f. coloq. Close friend. Similar to: Buddy, mate, pal.

Querido: adj. coloq. Person who is nice, loving, friendly. Similar to: A darling/a real sweetheart. “Ella es querida con todo el mundo.” (She’s lovely to everyone)

Recocha: noun. coloq. Loud and disorderly in a fun setting. Similar to: Ruckus/racket.

Salar: verb. coloq. To have or inflict terrible luck. Similar to: Curse.

Traga: noun. coloq. Person for whom you have romantic feelings. Similar to: Crush. “Esa traga suya lo tiene loco,” (Your crush on that girl has driven you crazy)

Vaca (make one): verb. coloq. Collect money for a specific purpose. Similar to: Have a whip round.