Paisa Slang: Common Spanish Phrases in Medellin

Paisa beer
Paisa beer is really Pilsen. The beer company changes their can and bottle designs every year for La Feria de las Flores.

No matter how much Spanish you learned in 10th grade, or how long you’ve lived in a South American city, when you pick up and travel to a new place, you will be confronted with new sayings and phrases particular to that country, region, city and culture.

Here’s some key paisa slang you’ll hear friends saying to one another in Medellin:

(Como estas) Bien o no?

How are you?

No veo la hora de llegar a mi casa

I can’t wait to get home.

Estoy salado

I’m unlucky (salty like a fish).

Ay primo hermano!

What’s up friend

Estar a un pelo

To be really close to something or to be a hair away from something.

e.g., Marce esta a un pelo de la boleta de libertad.   Marce is so close to freedom.

Estar en sus cabalas

To be rational, use your wits.

e.g., El no esta en sus cabalas.  He is not of right mind.

Sin mas ni que

Like it was nothing.

Ir a la fija

To be really sure, something that is fixed.

e.g., Will Camilo be late? Si, a la fija!   Yeah, of course, he is always late!

Ni mas faltaba

No way!  Don’t even think about it.

Estoy enguayabado

I am hungover, taken from the guayaba fruit.

No cabe en la ropa

When someone is full of himself or egotistical they say that he cannot fit into his clothes.

What’s your favorite paisa slang?

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  1. Haha. Great article Jessica. I have just been inundated with “bien o no” recently. The first few times I thought it was a question… like I could answer “no” and continue on with the conversation. But basically I discovered you just say “bien” or “todo bien” instead to not make things too difficult.

    I also like “Tonc, parce” which is short for “Entonces, parcero”, or basically “what’s up dude”.

  2. You just had one mistake. It’s not “Estar en sus cabalas” but “Estar en sus cabalEs”

    Cabalas means “something you do to get luck”

    Great post!! it can be very usefull for “gringos” since it’s not standard spanish but really common in Medellín.

  3. In recent months “bien o no?” has been prominently replaced by “bien o que?”..

    Other really common slang:

    Vamos de farra – go out to party
    Mijo/Mija – endearing term for a friend

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