Puerto Rican Slangs | 10 Words and Expressions To Learn

Are you about to head to Puerto Rico and want to learn some Puerto Rican slangs to help you speak like a native?

If you have spent time in Spanish speaking countries or even if you have talked to Spanish-speaking friends, you know that the vocabulary can vary widely between countries.

Everyday words in one country may be vulgar curse words in another.

For instance, the word “coger” has a drastically different significance in Mexico than it does in Spain.

You aren’t catching a taxi when you say that in Mexico. 🙂

useful spanish phrases for travel

Learning local expressions and vocabulary not only helped me understand my Spanish friends better, but also helped me feel more integrated into Spanish society.

Whenever you go to a new country, it is helpful to learn some words in the native language.

Puerto Rican Cemetery

Even if you are a Spanish speaker, you can benefit by learning local expressions before traveling to a new country.

In this article, I walk through 10 Puerto Rican Spanish slang words and expressions. Since Puerto Rico is an American territory, many of its slang expressions have English language influences.

Puerto Rican Slangs

Download the 1-Page PDF of the Puerto Rican Slang Words Cheat Sheet. 

10 Puerto Rican Slang Words to Learn

Best Spanish Phrases for Travel

1. Boricua

Boricua is the local name for a Puerto Rican. The word derives from the indigenous name for the island of Puerto Rico: Boriken or Boriquín.

The Boricuas first inhabited the island many, many years ago long before the Spanish came and conquered. The name signifies, “Brave and noble Lord”.

So, next time you see a Puerto Rican, make sure to say, “Que tal, Boricua”. It might catch them by surprise.

2. Tirar

In addition to the traditional meaning of tirar, “to throw away”, in Puerto Rican slang, tirar also means to make fun of someone.

The noun derived from the verb form, tiradera or tiraera means a dis or verbal feud and often refers to feuds between rappers.

3. Al garete

Al garete is used to refer to someone or something that is adrift or going poorly.

It has a nautical origin. The garete is the rudder that is used as a last resort when a ship finds itself without a mast or oars, and al garete originally referred to a ship that was adrift.

You can say that something “se fue al garete”, meaning it started to go disastrously, such as “el partido se fue al garete” (the game went poorly).

You can also tell some “vete al garete” or “get lost” if they are bugging you. Careful with whom you use this one though, as context is key.

4. Chavos

Puerto Rican money

Chavos is a Puerto Rican slang word for money.

It is derived from a contraction of ochavo in old Spanish, or one-eighth, which in turn refers to the eight pieces a silver coin was divided into in previous centuries.

Before you head off for Puerto Rico, make sure you bring along some chavos.

5. Bregar

Bregar means to struggle or to work on something with a lot of effort.

In Puerto Rican slang, both “bregaste Chicky Starr” and “bregar cajita de pollo” mean to betray someone or play dirty.

Chicky Starr was a Puerto Rican wrestler who takes on the antagonist. La cajita de pollo (box of chicken) refers to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s box of soggy chicken pieces that were not worth the money, at least originally.

As you can imagine this one is a bit of a silly phrase, but it is another way of saying, “you did me wrong”.

6. Wepa

Puerto Rico Slang

Wepa is more an exclamation than a word.

It is yelled to express joy and utter happiness. Puerto Ricans will yell it nasally and hold the “e” and “a” for a long time.

This may be used to celebrate a victory, a birthday or a good exam grade. Make sure to use it often and you will be confused as a Puerto Rican in no time!

7. Janguiar/Janguear

Say the word janguear out loud, and you may be able to determine its definition: to hang out.

This is an example of an English words penetrating Puerto Rican Spanish.

Someone might say, “Voy a janguear con mis amigos en el parque esta noche.” This of course means, “I am going to hang out with my friends in the park tonight.”

8. Acho/Chacho

Puerto Rican boy

Acho and chacho are contractions of the Spanish word “muchacho” which means “boy”.

Just like most Spanish speaking countries, Puerto Ricans have a way of shortening words.

So, if you are trying to say, “What’s up, dude?” you can say “¿Que tal, acho?”

They are also used as fillers between thoughts and sentences when speaking. It’s similar to “well” in English.

9. A mí, plín

A mí, plín is a slightly vulgar way to say “I don’t care” or “no me importa”.

It is thought to have come from the English word “plink”, which means to shoot randomly and casually at targets.

Hopefully, by this point you aren't thinking, “A mí, plín” to these Puerto Rican Slang expressions.

10. Corillo

One Night Movie

Corillo is quite a useful word to know when talking to your new Puerto Rican friends.

The word “corillo” is the Puerto Rican slang for friends or a group of friends. You might hear someone say, “Vamos! Salgamos con el corillo!”

This signifies: “Let’s go! Let’s all leave together!”

Try out a few of these slang terms for Puerto Ricans and you are sure to make a “corillo” in no time.

I am sure most Puerto Ricans would feel honored that you are trying out the local slang expressions on them.

What’s Your Favorite Puerto Rican Slangs and Expressions?

Puerto Rican slangs

Ready to start speaking like a native Borinquen?

Puerto Rican slang is full of expressions and words found only in this beautiful island and many of which are influenced by English words and phrases.

The above list is only the tip of the iceberg and we tried to include only the 10 most important Puerto Rican slang expressions.

Puerto Rican Expressions

It can be useful whether you are planning a trip to Puerto Rico, have Puerto Rican friends or simply want to learn more about Puerto Rican slang and culture.

Using even a few native words or expressions can cause locals to instantly warm up to you even if your Spanish in general is not the best.

People will understand that you are interested in their culture and language and will welcome the opportunity to teach you more.

The ten words listed in this article are a place to start building your Puerto Rican vocabulary. Now get started and get using it!

Puerto Rican Slangs

Want an easy way to remember the slang words? Download the 1-Page Puerto Rican Slang Cheat Sheet. 

23 thoughts on “Puerto Rican Slangs | 10 Words and Expressions To Learn”

  1. I grew up in NYC in a mixed neighborhood, so I’ve heard his term used a lot. I think there’s a little more nuance to the word than simply referring to a Puerto Rican man or woman, though. At least in New York, it’s commonly used to refer to someone, particularly a woman, who has held on tightly to the traditional culture, social norms, and values of Puerto Rico. It’s used as a term of respect, but can be used humorously as well. For example, I can easily imagine a scenario in which one young man might say to another, “Man, that food last night was slammin! You got to find yourself a real boriqua if you wanna eat like that!”

  2. I am Puerto rican born and raised in the island , I love that people take the time to learn our slang. It is very flattering. As a Spanish speaker from Puerto Rico I can assure you most of this slang words are correct. exept for number 8 , please dont go around saying ¿Que tal, acho? because you will get weird looks and it sounds cringey. we do not use that word in that way. Acho can be used as an exclamation word most of the time we use it to express frustration for example when we are in a bad situation or when we dont want to do something we say “Acho no.” but sometimes it is used to express happines for example if we see someting that we really like we can say “Acho quedo brutal.” etc… The word is mostly used between close friends and family.

    • En velda velda eso eh así ! Boricua pa’ que lo sepas y pa’ todo el corillo Dios les bendiga un monton !!

    • Yup! I am PRican and I completely agree with number 8 being totally off. Everything else was spot on except “a mi, plin” which isn’t really used anywhere except some country areas? Acho, I’ve never even used that phrase. Lol
      Cool article tho!

    • Funny !!! Exactly what I was going to comment. You are absolutely correct and also I might add a corillo is a group of people that do not necessarily have to know one another.

  3. I grew up playing baseball with the Puerto Rican kids in my neighborhood. When they refered to Black people they would say something like monaco mujeto. They never explained its meaning and maybe my memory fails me, but if someone understands maybe they can enlighten me. Thanks

  4. Corillo is used mainly to refer to a group of people or crowd, particularly a small crowd, unknown or unidentified people. Corillo does not necessarily refer to acquaintances or friends. E.g. There was a “corillo” (group of people, crowd) at the entrance of the building. Había un “corillo” en la entrada del edificio.


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