Mexi-Vocabulario: ¡Chale! ¡Huevón! ¡A Toda Madre!

This one is three-fer… as in three for one!  You know us mexicanos love a great deal.  Well, you all have been sharing so many great mexi-vocabulario words lately that it only made sense to do more than just one on this time around.

So, consider this the “blue-light” special of mexi-vocabulario!

Cholo says anything for Salinas
¡Chale! He messed up his car for Salinas!

First up, we’ve got ¡Chale!  The Urban Dictionary defines it as “a term used to show disagreement or disapproval of something or some idea.  Means the same thing as ‘hell no’ or ‘hell na.'”  Supposedly, it was a originated in the southwestern United States, but can now be heard anywhere Chicanos or Chicanas live.  Myself, I don’t really use this one.  Unless I’m trying to be funny…  I associate the word with more a “cholo culture” and just don’t use it.  Though I do love the line, which I think I’ve partially made up: “Chale, that’s Salinas!”

huevon man sleeps on couch with remote on his belly

¡Huevón!  This word on the other hand is engraved deep in my mind somewhere, locked up forever in the same place where echale ganas and hay que ser acomedido reside as constant reminders of my youth.  My father would  get so upset when he thought my mother was calling him ¡huevón! in the literal sense.  The word huevo means egg, so you can make the connection there.  When he knew it was all in good fun, it didn’t really bother him at all.  A mi, they would call me huevón whenever I didn’t want to do something, when I’d lay on the sofa all day watching TV, when I’d call in sick just for the hell of it, and when I’d forever procrastinate whatever I had to do at the moment.  Come to think of it… things haven’t really changed that much over the years.  No wonder I’m scarred for life with this word!

gloria trevi a toda madre
¡A Toda Madre!

Finally, ¡A toda madre! – more phrase than word really, is another great one to throw around with the guys.  ¡Sí hombre la fiesta estuvo a toda madre!  It means  great, awesome, very good, as in that something was very enjoyable or successful.  More formally, the Urban Dictionary offers: “Mexican slang that means something is totally awesome.  Often abbreviated, especially in graffiti as ATM.”  Coincidentally, this phrase always makes me think of the somewhat more versatile a la madre.  As Gloria Trevi demonstrates in her mega hit by the same name (below), a la madre can be either really good or really bad:

I’m always on the hunt for new mexi-vocabulario.

What other words would you like me to include in the mexi-vocabulario?  If you have one that you would recommend please share it with me here.  

Writer’s Disclaimer: When I say mexi-vocabulario I don’t necessarily mean these words are exclusively Mexican, or only used by Mexicans.  This is simply an expression of how they were introduced to me in our Mexican Spanish.

13 thoughts on “Mexi-Vocabulario: ¡Chale! ¡Huevón! ¡A Toda Madre!

  1. Thanks for these Mexi-Vocabulario lessons! I can usually figure out what my cuates are saying from the context, but I have to admit I get confused at times by ‘poca madre’ and ‘a toda madre’

  2. Pura madre, a la madre, poca madre, a toda madre … All mean different things. What’s up with that?

    1. Texano,
      I am NOT a native speaker of Spanish and after 50 years of trying, I’m sure I know about 1/1,000ths of the Spanish Language and it’s expressions

      That said, I’ll offer the following in hopes of being helpful and in hopes of being corrected and/or having my knowledge of Spanish increased.

      Think of madre (mother), as a synonym for ,the very best of all persons, places, and things.

      Pura madre = pure (completely), madre.

      a la madre = (+/-), check it with the righteous judge.

      poca madre = It has little to do with good or it’s a little like good. (Context, again)

      a toda madre = it’s all good or great or prefect or it’s just like Mom.

  3. Thanks for your info! Looked this quote up b/c I wasn’t sure you could use it when referring to a person,( ie: te miras a toda madre.)

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  5. Growing up here in Saawwnnttaa (Santa Fe, NM), we use puro “Spanglish” slang, a lot of which is truly local — that goes for a lot of the 5-0-5, especially para Los Norteños (Santa Fe, Spaña, Taos, Vegas, Burque even) who are definitely different from Southern New Mexicans…

    The one we use that gives me confused stares in El Paso, Cali, Mexico, or around other Latino/a(s) not from here is spensa… Like Spensa bro….MY BAD.


  6. Can you do a post on the word losico? Como, cálla tú lo sico ? Not real sure of the spelling, just always thought this was an interesting expression.

  7. Te mamaste con lo de “cholo culture” XD
    No vivo en gringolandia pero aquí en los mexicos decimos chale cuando algo anda mal o salió mal, tipo: “Chale, tengo hambre” o “Chale, que triste”. No tiene como tal un significado, es más como una expresión antes de una oración de tono triste. Se podría decir que “chale” es como decir “que triste”, en resumen.

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