Six Spanish expressions you’ll hear in Latin America

It’s never a bad idea to learn some essential words of the local language when traveling anywhere in the world. Even learning to say ‘hello,’ ‘please,’ and ‘thank you’ can open a lot of doors and make people treat you differently from other tourists. If you are coming with us to Latin America in your next tropical adventure, you probably already know how the basics Spanish words like hola, por favor, and gracias. However, this region of the world also has some distinctive slang that can vary from country to country.

Today we bring you some expressions to learn for your next trip with us. They won’t only help you to get around better in many places of Latin America, but you’ll also win the hearts of the locals when using them correctly.

Comiendo moscas

If someone tells you this, they probably caught you being distracted and spaced out. Don’t gross out, but he expression literally means ‘eating flies,’ because when you’re absent-minded, you keep your mouth open, letting the flies enter right into your mouth.

Hablar por los codos

The literal translation of hablar por los codos is ‘to talk through your elbows’. You can tell this to someone that won’t stop talking, as they seem to be using something more than their mouths to speak. If you hear someone saying this to you, they are politely telling you to shut up.


Chevere has no literal translation, but it’s a cool way to say ‘cool’! Depending on how much excitement you put into saying it, this expression can also transform into great, awesome, or fantastic. You can also use it when agreeing with someone, as a more local version of saying ‘okay.’

Pura vida

We’ve already mentioned before why Costa Ricans are so happy. Pura vida, or pure life, is their way to celebrate this joy. It can be used as a salutation or another way of saying ‘no worries’ or ‘everything’s good’. It’s the perfect answer when someone in Costa Rica asks you how you’re doing.

Buena onda

The Spanish way of saying ‘good vibes’ or ‘cool. If a person is referred to as buena onda, it means they are easy going; so smile and be polite and you’ll turn into a buena onda tourist wherever you go. Its opposite, mala onda, refers to an unpleasant situation or person.

Se me fue el avión

This phrase is the Spanish version of saying ‘I lost my train of thought.’ It literally means ‘I missed my plane,’ and you can use it when you get distracted and forget what you were thinking or saying just a few seconds ago. You can say se te fue el avión to someone going through the same situation.

Now that you know some Latin American phrases, you’re all set to show your Spanish off on your next travel. Get ready to shine in front of your hosts in the next tropical adventure! Maybe your fellow tour companions will even ask you to teach them some new slang to get around in a new country.


By Mariana Arámburu

Twitter & Instagram: @m_buru
Born and raised in Mexico City, Mariana graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana with a degree in Communication and Film. Later, she moved to Vancouver, BC, where she currently resides, and studied Creative Writing at Capilano University. Mariana loves photography and to visit new places. She also loves animals and aims to one day focus her work on conservation issues.

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