Here is a running list of “Nicañol”, Nicaraguan words and phrases that I have come across, in no particular order.  I will keep adding to them as time goes by….

This page is a bit lacking, partly because the vast majority of Nicaraguan slang I have been learning has a double meaning that I’m not sure is appropriate to put up on the public web…I’ll save them for sharing in person!

Me cuadra – me gusta, I like him/her.  Searching a bit for a literal translation: she/he fits within what I know I like.  Unless you specify (me cuadra como amigo), it’s understood you find this person attractive.

Prensar / fincar / besar – three synonyms for kiss.  See the”una buena prensada” discussion in the comments on this page.

Fulano – Mr. So and So.  They guy whose name you can’t remember, never know, or isn’t really important anyway for the story.  Often, “un tal fulano“…somebody or else.

Chigüine, Zipote – endearing terms for niño or child

Campechana – from the countryside, or something that has the flavor of country life.  ex. Chigüine es una palabra campechana, meaning that chigüine is a term mostly used in the rural areas.

La maña – a tendency or habit.

Bayunco – slang for guy, like saying dudes or chaps.

No fregés!  – No way!  When someone tells you something unexpected or pulls out just exactly the book you spend a month looking for high and low and they had it the whole time.  Might be reflexive (no me fregés), I’ve heard it both ways.

Hacer agua – literally, to “make water”, used as a more discrete way to say urinate.  If you go out to the campo, you never know what toilet conditions you will find and you should be prepared for the unexpected.  Since some families have different spots for different needs, I have been asked after requiring for permission to use a latrine, “Solo para hacer agua?” , indicating that there is one place that is acceptable to pee and a different place to deposit solids.  Another Nicaraguan bathroom expression I have not yet gotten entirely used to is the tendency to say “Estoy orinando”, literally “I am urinating” when what they mean is, “I need to pee so badly I’m bursting!”

Coyotear/hacerse un coyote – to “brown nose” or say whatever someone wants to hear in order to get in their favor.

Soy un caballo / una bestia / un burro – literally, I am a horse/beast/mule.  What you are really saying is that you are ignorant and completely wrong about everything.  BUT if you answer the question, “how are you” by puffing up your chest and saying with attitude “Soy una bestia” it means you are feeling like hot sh!t, man, bring it on!  Read the body language carefully.

Putchika – Exclamation, what you say when you are trying not to say another word that also starts put… but that is much more vulgar.  Kind of like saying “what the frick”.

Salvaje – Awesome, incredible, and unbeatable.  I’m seriously wowed.

Vos – you singular.  Congugated more or less the same as tu, with the exception of ser = vos sos and some accent changes.  Basically interchangeable with tu (although in my experience used more commonly) and less formal that usted.  De donde sos vos? There’s a good wikipedia article on voseo (Thanks Daniel!)

Chunche – a thing.  Used when referring to something odd and unusual, or when you can’t remember or don’t know the proper term.  Ex. going to purchase a drip irrigation connector plug, but asking a friend first, what’s the name for this chunche de plastico?

Chepa – a person who is constantly curious, walks around questioning and investigating, a bit of a know-it-all.

Cuecho/Cuechando – gossip/gossiping

Chispa – intelligent, smart, lista

Mujeriego – a man who runs around with lots of women.  It’s more negative than bandido, which can mean the same thing but is more teasing than insulting.

Caite – rustic form of leather shoe typically worn and made by campesinos.

Gringo Caitudo – phrase used for Nicaraguans who have moved to the states and return thinking and acting like they are gringos but who haven’t quite lost all their signature Nicaraguanisms, i.e. even though they moved abroad they can’t shed their caites.

Aguachacha – weak or worthless material, or a weak attempt at doing something.  I was taught this word when I was complaining that a tamarind juice was virtually nothing but water and sugar.  Aguachacha, a poor excuse for a tamarind drink!

Fachento – a person who tries to ‘pass’ as being in a higher class than they are.  A Nicaraguan joke is that people from Granada who are known to be fachentos eat their beans and rice on china plates with a knife and fork, so that the neighbors who hear the noise of the cutlery think they are eating meat.

Malinchisme – also used in Mexico, it means a person who is always portraying themselves as a foreigner, or striving to appear foreign.

Chochada – something that is useless or worthless or insignificant.  Don’t listen to him, he speak pure chochada!

Pedir Cacao – literally, ask for cacao.  Used when you are completely wiped or finished, so tired you can barely walk.  Estoy pediendo cacao!

Diacachimba! – kind of like, Cool!, or WOW! but very street languange.  Maybe more like, “F yeah!”.  Not what you say in the office when you like your colleague’s idea.

Adios – you think you know that this means goodbye, but in León it is also used as a greeting.  Expect to hear it called out to you as you walk past people on the street.  Very amusing when folks translate it into English for your benefit.  Lots of smiling strangers saying “Bye!” when nobody said hello in the first place.  If you actually stop to converse with anyone, they’ll use as they’re leaving as well, just as you expected.

A la orden – you´re welcome, not at all, no problem, at your service.  A response to thank you, often combined with a compliment – “a la orden, linda”

Chele/a – light skinned person.  For a young or small person, add the diminutive – “chelita” y  “chelito”

27 Responses to “Español Nicaragüense”

  1. Nicoyaslang Says:

    Chocho: wowed, amazed, impacted of a quality of person/place/or someone’s action- Chocho, ta’de acachimba Esta Chochada.
    -Chocho papa handa bañate!
    -Chocho, clase chunche!

  2. yenn Says:

    que quiere decir: “chelona”

  3. Antonio Says:

    Ok I´m Nicaraguan and I want to help with the meaning of Una buena prensada. Well, for example when you have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you´re kissing him or her, or caress and so on. That means una buena prensada.

  4. JairoTs Says:

    Hi again! Some other miscellaneous contributions.

    Is Chigüín, instead of Chigüine.
    Is Púchica, instead of Putchika.
    “Chepa” or “Tula” is the colloquial (informal) word for “entremetido-entremetida” (busybody, in some cases even blabbermouth or gossip).
    Is Malinchismo, instead of Malinchisme.
    “Pedir cacao” Estoy o estar pidiendo cacao. In general terms you can say that of someone who is resigning or giving up…
    Deaca (short for Deacachimba) or Diacachimba.
    “Adios” used instead of Hi. Is a form to say hi to someone when at the same time your are willing to tell to that person that you do not have the time (or just do not want) to start a long conversation. Is a way to, somehow, let the other person to know that you are not going to spend time chatting with him or her. You are saying Hi and Goodbye at the same time.
    Chele or chela, originally was associated not just to persons with light skin but also blond. Nowadays, it is less used with this doubled requisite in favor of just the light skin characteristic.

    Congrats and best wishes to you.

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      Gracias Jairo por sus comentarios! Many of these words I hear often but have never seen written; it’s very helpful to have your feedback. Abrazos!

  5. Vince Fazzi Says:

    Can someone please help me with the meaning of “solamente una buena prensada”
    My Nicaraguense amiga told me I’d never figure it out and I’m determined to do so. Thanks. I think it has something to do with a nice hug but I may be way off.

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      I think it’s a way of saying a one-night stand. Let’s see if someone else replies.

      1. Marlene Says:

        She wants a kiss.

      2. JairoTs Says:

        Hi, first of all, let me tell you that I´m a native Spanish speaker. I reached your blog accidentally, searching for some Nicaraguan phrasal verbs translation… so my use of your mother tongue is very limited. I would like to comment about “sólo una buena prensada”, that in general terms, “prensada” is used to express a passionate kiss (the action itself but no the consequences). Of course, when your are kissing someone in a passionate way, you are establishing an extensive body contact (like hugs, and so on…) but not usually implies an action (or sequence of actions) that derive into an intercourse. I hope this can help you to better understand our vernacular Spanish… 🙂

  6. Pilar Cerra Says:

    Podría alguien decirme como dicen en Nicaragua “cool” or “awesome” por ejemplo en México decimos “que padre!”, en Puerto Rico “Chévere” en España “que chulo”.

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      Creo que lo mas comun aqui es “tuani.”

  7. Daniel Says:

    Hi Rachel, nice blog 🙂

    I just have one comment about “vos”.
    It is used in Central America, some parts of South America and some parts of Spain instead of “tu”.

    It is not more polite than “tu”. It is used instead of the “tu”.

    Having said that, some people consider “tu” to be more polite and I have heard people saying “tu” where they do not want to use “vos” (which they consider less polite) but they would not go as far as use “usted” when talking to a particular person.

    The interesting thing is that “vos” is perfectly used in other parts of America instead of “tu” but in Nicaragua some people consider it less formal (when they shouldn’t).

    Interesting info about “vos”:

    1. Vic Says:

      Daniel, exactamente, re: vos en Nicaragua. I grew up there and always used it, but outside of Nicaragua, even now, with my colleagues at the university where I teach, I use tú instead of vos unless they become my buds. In Nicaragua, unlike for Argentinos, for example, we have had an inferiority complex about using vos, as if it reveals a lowbrow thing. This changed after the Sandinista revolution I think, though, and some writers started reapropriating or normalizing it, like Gioconda Belli for one. Rachel, thanks for this post. I got homesick reading the words I only hear from Pinoleros!

      1. rwlindsay Says:

        Thanks for sharing that, Vic, I hadn’t picked up on the self-conscious side of vos. I haven’t travelled abroad with Nicaraguans either though. It makes sense that it’s something obvious that would stand out in other countries, like the spanish eth instead of es. Everyone uses it here though (and I really like it!). There are lots of slogans like “Todos con vos!” which is a government initiative to evaluate and give assistance to handicapped individuals in the rural areas.

  8. Marcela Olivas Says:

    Querida Rachel, es excelente tu esfuerzo por mostrar algo de la idiosincracia nica a los “gringos”. Ví algunos errores:

    – No es “bandito”, sino ‘bandido’
    -Aguachacha, en vez de “aguachochada”… ‘Chochada’ es otra cosa, es “cualquier cosa, de forma despectiva”.
    -“Fachento” en lugar de ‘fochento’
    -“Diacachimba” o ‘deacachimba’ es una sóla palabra.
    – Y, finalmente, ‘adiós’ sí es una despedida, que equivale al ‘bye’ en inglés.

    Supongo que hablas español, por eso te lo escribo así.

    Buen trabajo. ¡Diaca!


  9. vern Says:

    Hi Rachel, regarding your recent post “best kept secret”. i’m looking on the map and finding Somotillo along the pacific coast in chinandega department, not really near the panamerican. There’s probably two with the same name. Do you know more specifically Where the cashews are? i’m getting hungry 🙂 thanks Vern

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      Hi Vern,

      You caught my mistake – the Panamerican goes through Estili not Somotillo. I got confused because it’s the road I’ve used most to get up to the Honduran border. The Somotillo is the same one, along the coast in Chinandega, and the highway is the main road between the city of Chinandega and Somotillo, just refinished by the Cuenta Reto del Milenio.

  10. yader Says:

    hey im i think this people need to go to nicaragua.guess what they forgot to put voz

  11. stuart Says:

    hi, just surfing the web and i thought this page was pretty salvaje!! jajaj. i love the nica slang. you left out TUANI thats said a lot! buffalo, quedarse palmado! fachento, maje, queres masiar? jaja. como esta la jana? no seas pinche!(codo) esta mortal! jaja i was in nicaragua for two years so I learned a few slang words when i was down there!!! good times. i hope to go back soon

    1. Vic Says:

      ¡Que tuani, que tuani, que tuani está la ocho! An old ad I remember from growing up Nica.

  12. Kate Says:

    just noticed this part of your blog as i was about to click out… i love it! I definitely learned a few words. btw it’s “mujeriego” (as in “mujer”) and I’ve always thought it was “de acachimba” though now that I think about it I don’t think I’ve ever seen it written… just that way it fits the verb acachimbar. That word always reminds me of turquear (or turkear or however you want to spell it) and all it’s derivatives… even less appropriate for the office!

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      Thanks so much Kate! I have learned virtually all of my Spanish verbally, and it’s great to get feedback on spelling. I’ll definitely give you a ring when I’m in Managua again, I’d love to get together and catch up, maybe share more Nica slang.

      1. Luzmarina2357 Says:

        La pagina esta !lo maximo!…ya estan los Nacatamales?(when someone is snoring) Pedo de mula-to run like hell. I have not visited my country since I left 40 yrs ago (que aguabe) but I will go back very soon with my new they can see their roots…I am a proud Nicoya thou….LuzMa

  13. Eligia Lazo Says:

    Rachel, con nosotros (CEPRODEL) está Suzane Arthur de KIVA que estará hasta el mes de agosto haciendo un trabajo de seguimiento a los clientes de esta organización. Le he hablado de tí, le regalé tu URL, me parece interesante compartan experiencias.
    Seguimos en contacto.

  14. BrianPatrickChevalier Says:

    “a la orden” is a tiny bit similar to
    “alles in ordnung”
    no ?

    1. rwlindsay Says:

      I think it’s more like, “I’m at your order, at your disposal”, but I’m not certain of that. But yeah, the phrases certainly sound similar. I hadn’t thought of that. I usually struggle to keep my German and Spanish separated here!

      1. Daniel Says:

        “A la orden” is used as a response to a “thank you”.

        Meaning: I’m at your service (at your order) for anything else you may need.. 🙂

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