ACA Explorers – Blog

5 Ways to Talk like a Paisa

Colombians who live in Antioquia are called Paisas. Paisas have their own specific way of speaking including slang typical to the area and their accent. There is much variety of speech in Colombia so what I’m writing about is specifically Paisa slangMedellin and the pueblos of Antioquia. I’m sure slang differs even in Antioquia so just for the record, I’m writing based on my observations in Andes, Jardin, and Medellin, Antioquia.

Here are the top ways you can sound like a Paisa and do your best to blend in:

  1. My number one tip to travelers in Colombia is to ALWAYS. USE. THE. USTED. FORM.
    First of all “usted” is the most respectful and formal way of saying “you“. If you are every in doubt in any Spanish speaking country, go with the “usted” form. Better to risk being overly polite than impolite!
    Tu” is hardly ever used here. The cool kids use “vos” which is usually just conjugated like “tu” here in Colombia but also has its own conjugation for present tense verbs. “Que hacés” “Miráme” “Decíme algo“. You can totally use vos and just conjugate it like “tu” in Colombia but in other countries you might get called out.ANYWAYS, USTED!!! This is usted territory baby. Out here in the pueblos of Antioquia, EVERYONE IS USTED. Babies? “Usted es el bebe mas lindo del mundo!”
    Someone you hate? “Le odio con todo mi corazon.”
    Your younger siblings? “Usted es el peor Pablo, siempre le dice a mama cuando llego tarde.”
    Your best friend? “Caro me va a prestar este buso para salir hoy?”
    Your significant other? “Mi amor usted es la mejor bendicion de la vida. La amo mucho.”

    In other countries, talking with your closest relationships (best friends, significant others), an older person addressing a younger person, or someone talking to someone they don’t like would more likely use “tu” but in in Antioquia, everyone is usted! Often, I find my friends conjugating like “tu” for their friends but still will usually use “usted” when they actually say the pronoun. My students call each other “usted” and that’s the cutest thing ever to me! So much respect.

    You’ll never regret using “usted!”

  2. Say “hágale pues. I was honestly confused when I first got here about how often I heard this expression. It is the most typical Paisa phrase. It can basically mean anything. Literally it means like “go ahead and do it” but it can be used to encourage people to do something or just mean “okay” kind of like how I would use “for sure” or “word” in American English slang.*kids playing soccer to the kid with the ball*- “Hágale pues Mateo tírela” DO IT
    “Amiga me voy a ir a la casa y ahora la escribo” “Hágale pues ahora hablamos” COOL/SOUNDS GOOD/FOR SURE
    “Manana me va a acompanar a hacer esta vuelta?” “Hágale pues parce voy con usted” YES/CONFIRMATION“Hágale pues” is so Paisa/typical here that the Paisas might not even notice how cool it is that you, a foreigner, are saying it but you’ll know how legit you are 🙂

    *Using “pues” all the time in general is super Paisa. They say it for emphasis or like I might say “like” in English. Pues following any verb emphasizes that verb. “Traigalo pueeees” is like “Bring it already!“. “Vamonos pues” is like “Come on let’s go. I’m very ready to go.Add “pues” to your speech as much as possible and you’ll be super Paisa!

  3. When you want to curse someone out, use the words “hijueputa, malparido and pirobo”. These are the top 3 Paisa curse words.Hijueputa– shortened version of “hijo de puta” or “son of a bitch” (puta technically means more like slut). This is the most Paisa word ever. Kids even have their own non-swear version “hijuepucha” which reminds me of “fudge” instead of… you know what.
    This is a word you will hear all the time! Even though it sounds like a very strong swear word, it is a part of everyday language. It can be used to describe a person but is also an exclamation that people say when something exciting, funny, or bad happens! It can be like “holy sh**!” “f***!” or “m***** f*****!”. It also can be an adjective: “Este hijueputa celular no quiere prender“. It is a versatile swear word and is the go-to around here.Malparido– *can be changed to malparida for a girl* “Son of a bitch” “Bastard” “Motherf*****” Another versatile swear word. It is usually used as a noun: “Este malparido me robó!” but can also be used as an adjective: “Este malparido hijueputa me engaño.” (The funny part is that sentence can be switched to make hijueputa the adjective and malparido the noun- hijueputa malparido)

    Pirobo– another way of saying “motherf*****” or “a**hole” or any generic insult. All of these terms are used in similar ways. When you’re mad, feel free to use any combination of them. “Malparido pirobo hijueputa” “Hijueputa pirobo malparido“… literally they all work…!

  4. Start calling everyone parce. Parce, not to be confused with parche which is a very Paisa word for a party or get-together, is a way friends address each other. Parce is the short version of parcero which means friend. Parce translates more to “dude” or “bro“. People use it ALL the time and it doesn’t always refer to someone, sometimes it’s just a sentence filler.”Parce el parche anoche fue una chimba” (“Bro that party last night was so dope.”)
    Uy parce no se que hacer” (“Ugh dude I don’t know what to do“)
  5. Use the following adjectives as much as possible in daily speech: cansón(a), juicioso/a, bobo/a, maluco/a, chimba (can also be a noun). These are some of the most popular adjectives here that I hadn’t heard that much in other countries.
    Cansón(a)– Literally tiring/wearing but used in Antioquia as someone who is annoying. Annoying is also molesto or fastidioso. Canzon(a) is used as a noun or an adjective.”Santi devuelvame la pelota ya, cansón!” (Santi give me the ball back already, annoying boy.)
    “Usted por que es tan cansón? (Why are you so annoying?)Juicioso/a- This is WEIRDLY popular here…. It literally means “judicious” or “wise” but it’s used like being a good girl/boy, working, being studious and behaving yourself well. Someone who is juicioso stays in the house mostly (they have an obsession with this. The more you’re literally outside the less juicioso you are… weird phenomenon, more to come.)
    It is normal for you to ask someone how they are and them to respond “juicioso”. It means they’ve been “behaving well”, maybe busy, not going out much. This term is so tied to the culture it’s very interesting to me!

    “Perdida, donde ha estado?” “Pues juiciosa en la casa y usted?” (MIA, where have you been? I’ve been a good girl at home how about you?)
    “Mateo gracias por limpiar la cocina. Usted es un niño bien juicioso.” (Mateo thanks for cleaning the kitchen. You’re such a well-behaved boy.)

    Bobo/a– stupid, goofy. This is their go-to word for a soft insult meaning stupid or goofy. “Bobo” usually doesn’t offend a lot. It is like “tonto” in Spain. Not close to as hard as “estupido” or “idiota“. Bobo can be a response to someone being silly or it can be like a way of calling someone dumb.

    Boba donde dejó mi celular?” (Stupid, where’d you leave my phone?)
    Nati eres tan boba no te rías así” (Nati, you’re so goofy, don’t laugh like that!)

    Maluco/a– malo. This is the Colombian way of saying bad. It literally means the same thing as malo but after months of living here, you feel weird saying just malo. It’s almost as if “malo/a” is saved for “mean” and everything “bad” is called “maluco“.

    Parce el parche está todo maluco, vamos pa’ la casa” (Dude this party sucks, let’s go home.)
    Esta sopa sabe toda maluca, que al echó mamá?” (This soup tastes bad, what’d you put in it mom?)

    Chimba– awesome/bad. Chimba can be an adjective or a noun. It can mean good or bad. It is the ultimate slang of Antioquia!

    Parce esta tema es una chimba (Bro this song is dope!)
    Hay cover en este bar? La chimba.” (There’s a cover at this bar? Fuck that!)
    Que chimba de carro parce.” (What an awesome car dude.)

Other key Paisa words- 

Quiubo?- the phonetic spelling of “que hubo?” said in a Paisa accent. This along with “Que mas?” and “Bien o no?” are popular ways to great people in Antioquia. “Que hubo?” literally means “what was there?” or “what happened?” but is used as “what’s up” or just a general saludo (greeting)

Guayabo– hangover. Enguayabado/a- hungover.

Rumba/rumbiar– party/to party. These are the words you’ll use instead of fiesta or salir.



Berraco– super Paisa word. Literally only used in Colombia. This word (surprise, surprise) can mean a bunch of different things. Most commonly it’s used like ballsy, smart or courageous- “¡Usted sí es un berraco!” (You’re a genius/awesome!)
It can also mean angry. “Cuidado con Pipe que está berraco hoy.” It can also be used to express difficulty of something or for emphasis.

Paila– Paila is something you say to express that something is already screwed or better to leave it alone. For example, if you forget to study for a test and walk in that day to take it you might say- “Uy parce no estudie por nada pero paila.” It’s kind of like “screw it” but used even more often! It recognizes that something is already “jodido” (screwed) and better not to stress about it.

These are just the most common of the Paisa slang. One of the hardest part of the language here has definitely been learning all the slang and being able to understand it amongst the Spanish words I already knew. The more you use these words, the more impressed Paisas will be and the more easily you’ll be able to integrate in their culture because you’re using words that are familiar to them. Antioquia is one of those places where you go to a store asking for the dictionary definition of what you’re looking for only to confuse the store worker and find out they call them something else.

Best of luck on your Antioquian adventures, parce. Que Dios le bendiga y que pase BERRACO 🙂



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