Monday, June 24, 2024

Mexican Slang 101: La fiesta

There’s nothing like a chela bien muerta, and all the better if it’s straight from the caguama.

Mexicans enjoy their leisure time, and this country’s party culture is always just around the corner. However, as the beers go down the slang often comes out, and knowing what certain phrases refer to in the context of drinking can be essential. 

Journalist Alasdair Baverstock
Alistair Baverstock has compiled a rich collection of Mexican slang in his dictionary. (Alasdair Baverstock)

The author of The Mexican Slang Dictionary, Alasdair Baverstock, gives us ten lesser-known Mexican expressions and phrases to take your Pachanga to the next level.


  1.     A sea turtle.
  2.     A large bottle of beer, usually measuring 1.2 litres. Often shared between friends as a cheaper alternative to individual bottles.

Ballena noun A Caguama, specifically of Pacifico beer, found only in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, where the brewery is based. Literally, a whale. 

Chela noun Beer. The etymology of this slang stems from the name Graciela, which sounds similar enough to the word Cerveza to be substituted for it. The abbreviated nickname for Graciela, is Chela, which therefore applies also to the slang for beer.

Chevenoun A Norteño equivalent of Chela.

Hasta ver la cruz – 

  1.     expression To ‘down’ a drink in one go. Comes from the religious prayer candles, the containing glasses have a crucifix at the bottom, and are commonly used for drinking mezcal after the candle has been spent. By doing so, the drinker would ‘see the cross’ at the bottom of his glass only when it is upturned. Consequently also:
  2.     adj Very drunk.

Hecho una Cubaadj Extremely Drunk.

Mala Copaadj Descriptive of a person who cannot hold their drink, becomes drunk easily, or is prone to foolishness once drunk. 

Medios Chiles, Estar aadj The ‘merry’, or ‘tipsy’ state of drunkeness. Also happysón.

Palomanoun A mixed drink containing Tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda

Torito noun Jail cell where those who have committed offences while unde the influence of alcohol are taken to sober up overnight. The ‘drunk-tank’.

You can buy The Mexican Slang Dictionary on Amazon in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Alisdair Baverstock in the Mexico City based author of The Mexican Slang Dictionary.


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