14 Vibrant Puerto Rican Slang Words to Add Color to Your Spanish | FluentU Spanish Blog (2023)

14 Vibrant Puerto Rican Slang Words to Add Color to Your Spanish | FluentU Spanish Blog (1)

By meredithkreisa Last updated:

How can you add a littleextra color to your conversations?

It’s easy. Put the textbook down for a minute, andstart picking up some new slang.

On today’s slang agenda, however, we have the glorious, vivid slang of Puerto Rico. So dive in and prepare to learn some great words and phrases!


  • Slang in Puerto Rican Spanish
    • 1. Boricua
    • 2. Janguiar/janguear/hanguear
    • 3. Broki
    • 4. Tirar
    • 5. Acho/chacho
    • 6. A mi, plín
    • 7. Tiraera/tiradera
    • 8. Al garete
    • 9. Nebuloso
    • 10. Chavos
    • 11. Gufiao
    • 12. Gufear
    • 13. Bregarle Chicky Starr
    • 14. ¡Mano!
  • What Makes Puerto Rican Slang Unique?
  • Why Do You Need to Know Puerto Rican Slang?
  • Resources for Learning Puerto Rican Slang

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Slang in Puerto Rican Spanish

1. Boricua

Admittedly, the word boricua isn’t technically slang, but it’s a popular word that’s important to Puerto Rico. It’s also frequently used in conversation, and not knowing it will make you sound silly.

Boricuais a term used to mean “Puerto Rican.” Before the Spanish arrived on the island now called “Puerto Rico,” the indigenous Taíno people called the island Borikén(also spelled Boriquén and Borinquen).

Boricua is simply a name for the local people derived from the island’s original name, but let’s face facts—it’s just more interesting thanpuertorriqueño(Puerto Rican).

2. Janguiar/janguear/hanguear

While the spelling varies,janguiar,janguear andhanguearare allslang for “to hang out.”

Try saying any variationout loud. You’ll notice it sounds a lot like “hang.” That’s because this slang word is an Anglicism. It was derived from the American expression “hang out.”

Use it to talk about hanging out with friends or just relaxing.

3. Broki

Brokiis Puerto Rican slang for “buddy.”

Again, this word may look familiar. That’s becauseit’s derived from the popular English-language slang “bro.” The“ki”suffix makes it diminutive, making the term more affectionate.

4. Tirar

You probably already know tiraras a verb meaning“to throw” or “to throw away.”

However, in Puerto Rican slang, it can also mean“to hit on” or “to diss”or “to shoot” (as in a person). Given its diverse meanings, try to be careful with your use of tirar.

Context is important, and slipping up could come across asa threat.

5. Acho/chacho

Acho and chachoare bothshort for muchacho(guy).

However, these slang words areusually used between thoughts, similar to how we use the word “well…” in English to transition between ideas or change subjects.

Alternately, acho and chachocan also mean “what’s up?”

6. A mi, plín

A mi, plínliterally means “to me, plink.” Still unclear? Well, “plink” usually means “to shoot at for fun.” Think “Plinko” on “The Price is Right.”

However, in Puerto Rican slang, a mi, plínusually means “I don’t care.” It’s a bit morecolorful thanno me importa(I don’t care).

7. Tiraera/tiradera

It looks liketirar. It sounds liketirar. It’s liketirar, but it only ties to one slang meaning oftirar,which relates to a diss. Yes,tiraeraortiraderais the noun form of theverbtirar.

While the slangtirarcan mean “to diss,” tiraeraor the alternate spelling tiraderarefers to a diss, averbal feud or the act of purposefully antagonizing.

Tiraera or tiradera is also often used to describe feuds between rappers or people. For instance, you might say Kanye West and Taylor Swift have atiraera/tiradera.

8. Al garete

Al garete originally referredto when a shipwasadrift. It’s used as an adjective.

In Puerto Rican slang, it has a wide variety of meanings. It can mean “wild,” “off the rails,” “disastrous” or “out of it.”

For instance, if you hosted a party and it went poorly or got out of control, you might say “la fiestase fue al garete”(“the party went off the rails” or “the party was disastrous” or “the party was wild”).

9. Nebuloso

Nebulosoliterally means “cloudy,” “foggy” or “vague.”

However, in Puerto Rican slang, nebulosocan also mean “untrustworthy.” It’s kind of like the English slang word “shady” in both its literal and figurative meanings.

10. Chavos

In Puerto Rico and its neighbors Cuba and the Dominican Republic,chavosis slang for “money.”

Don’t confuse it withchavo,which means “guy” in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.

11. Gufiao

This one’s a good example of the pinballing paths slang words can take as they develop.Gufiaois a contraction ofgufeado,which is derived from the English word “goofy.”

However, in Puerto Rican slang,gufiaoactually means “cool” or “awesome.”

12. Gufear

Like gufiao,gufearis derived from English. However, in this instance,gufearmeans “to goof around” or “to joke around.”

13. Bregarle Chicky Starr

This one requiresa little dissecting.Bregaris the verb for “to struggle.” For this phrase, it’s used with an indirect object (le) to refer to the person being affected.

Chicky Starr, meanwhile, is a Puerto Rican wrestler, cast as the antagonist in the ring.

In slang, bregarle Chicky Starrmeans “to play dirty with someone,” “to betray someone” or “to turn on someone.” It’s a humorousbut negative phrase. And it certainly is entertaining and colorful!

14. ¡Mano!

If you hear someone saymanoyour immediate thought will probably be that they mean “hand.” Totally understandable.Manousually does mean “hand.”

However, in Puerto Rican slang, the exclamation¡Mano!is an abbreviation ofhermano(brother). Indeed, in slang it’s used to mean brother; however, as an exclamation, ¡Mano! roughly means“hey, bro!”

What Makes Puerto Rican Slang Unique?

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Why does that matter to Puerto Rican slang?

Well, perhaps because of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the U.S., a lot of Puerto Rican slang words and phrases areAnglicisms, orwords/phrases borrowed from the English language.

Anglicisms can be useful for English-speakers learning the language, because they feel familiar and are thereforeeasy to remember.

While these Anglicisms can be intriguing and appealing, Puerto Rican slang has more to offer than just Anglicisms alone.

Puerto Rican slang also often focuses on abbreviating longer words in interesting ways. This can be confusing for non-native speakers, but it leads to a more dynamic and exciting language.

Why Do You Need to Know Puerto Rican Slang?

Getting comfortable with Puerto Rican slang will open windows to anew facet of the Spanish language and to the everyday culture of the island. Here’s how:

  • You’ll sound local.If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico and don’t want to stand out, learning Puerto Rican slang is one of thequickest ways to sound local. This is a great way to experience more authentic culture rather than always being treated as a tourist.
  • You’ll understand the Spanish language in greater depth.Learning differentfacets of the Spanish language such as Puerto Rican slang will help you see the diverse and dynamic nature of the language.
  • You’ll be able to communicate more easily with Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S. There are a number of large Puerto Rican communities throughout the continental U.S. Learning Puerto Rican slang will help you communicate with Puerto Ricans near you!
  • Puerto Rican slang is just plain fun.There are some very interesting and colorful terms and phrases. You might work them into your regular Spanish vocabulary even if you aren’t communicating with Puerto Ricans. Yes—Puerto Rican slang is that good.

Resources for Learning Puerto Rican Slang

If you have a limitless appetite for Puerto Rican slang and 14 words and phrases isn’t enough, here are some helpful resources you can use to expand your vocabulary.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

Congratulations on learning some intriguing Puerto Rican slang. To learn more, enjoy time in Puerto Rico or hang out with Puerto Ricans near you!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

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