A Quick Guide To Understanding Spanish-Speaking Millennials

If you don’t want people to think you’re a viejuno, you’d better study up.
Three Spanish millennials sitting in a park and probably using slang

A YouTuber might say ¡Esto es tan dosmildiez! (“That’s so 2010!”). Maybe we’re already in for a plot twist because if there’s anything that characterizes young people, it’s their way of talking and the variety of words that they use. As soon as you look at the next generation, you don’t pisparse (“understand”) anything and suddenly you’re a viejuno (“old person”). You might be familiar with English millennial slang, but you might need some brushing up on the Spanish millennials are using.

Language is a mold that unifies a community, and young people integrate new terms in their speech (or new meanings for existing words) for fun or to be provocative, aligning with their inherent rebelliousness. Using your own jargon is a way to form cohesion, an identity marker, and the fact that other generations don’t understand it is an added bonus. It’s a language with very specific goals that is created and spread very quickly.

Although it’s a temporary language, there are expressions that have come from the jargon of previous generations that have remained part of Spanish slang: tronco (“guy”), molar (“to rule, to rock”), no te rayes (“don’t worry”) and OK, among others

Some of the words we’ll introduce here are also used by adults, but not very widely. Discover part of Spanish vocabulary adapted today by and for young people and developed outside the strict academic dictionaries. Es worth! (“It’s worth it!”)

10 Words And Expressions Young Spanish Millennials Are Using


Meaning: A mythological Nordic being that can be found in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, two series very popular among young people.
Uses: Like “troll” in English, it’s used for someone intent on bothering you online with disrespectful comments or misguided opinions.
Example: Este tío no deja de trolearme en el Face. (“This guy won’t stop trolling me on Facebook.”)


Meaning: Fictional country from Lord of the Rings.
Uses: To refer to a place that’s far away and difficult to get to.
– ¿Vives en las afueras? (“Do you live outside the city?”)
– Si, vivo en Mordor. (“Yeah, I live in Mordor.”)


Meaning: Create controversies.
Uses: In the context of social networks, this term is used for a controversy or heated discussion about a certain topic.
Example: Menudo salseo hay en Twitter con lo que pasó ayer en MYHYV. (“There’s some controversy on Twitter with what happened yesterday on MYHYV (Spanish dating show).”)

Emosido engañado

Meaning: “We were tricked.”
Uses: Taken from a meme about graffiti that circulated online, this expression is used to show indignation about something relatively unimportant.
Example: El profe nos ha puesto un examen sorpresa hoy. Emosido engañado. (“The professor gave us a pop quiz today. We were tricked.”)


Meaning: Crappy
Uses: To refer to someone or something shabby or tacky.
Example: Esta base de maquillaje low cost me ha salido muy mierder. (“This low-cost base makeup turned out really crappy on me.”)


Meaning: Crapping your pants (out of fear).
Uses: To describe the state of being afraid of something or someone.
Example: Cuando el trol ese se dirigió a mí me quedé acojoneitor. (“When the troll approached me I was really scared.”)


Meaning: The act of flirting, originating from reggaeton (a style of dancing).
Uses: To describe a flirty, seductive situation.
Example: El perreo de Pedroche y Dabiz Muñoz que terminó en zasca (“The flirting between Pedroche and Dabiz Muñoz was shut down”) (headline in La Vanguardia)


Meaning: Someone older (or something old-fashioned), from the perspective of a young person or millennial.
Uses: To refer to someone who hasn’t kept up with the social networks or technologies, and who doesn’t understand anything when they hear young people’s jargon.
Example: Si le dabas vueltas a la cinta con un boli bic… ¡eres un viejuno! (“If you turned a cassette tape with a Bic pen… you’re an old person!”)


Meaning: Expression for laziness or lack of energy. The “h” is pronounced at the end.
Uses: When you want to express a lack of interest.
– ¿Te hace (te apetece) ir al concierto? (“Do you want to go to the concert?”)
– Meh… (“Meh…”)

Zas, en toda la boca

Meaning: A comeback.
Uses: A catchphrase the series Family Guy used to express the act of exposing someone with an ironic or derogatory comment.
Example:  Acababa de soltar un irónico zasca a Pablo Motos. (“He just gave Pablo Motos (Spanish comedian) a sarcastic comeback.”)

10 (More Or Less) English Phrases That Spanish Millennials Are Using

As you might expect, the English-speaking world continues to be an endless source of terms for the Spanish millennials use. They’re constantly socializing in different contexts and networks, often in globalized settings where English is the operating language. The Spanish millennials speak has adapted some of these English words in their own way, sometimes quite creatively!


Meaning: In the context of youth slang, it’s used for someone who stands out because of their talent or capabilities.
Uses: As a compliment, it’s used to express admiration for someone.
Example: La nadadora Mireia Belmonte es una crack. (“The swimmer Mireia Belmonte is really talented.”)


Meaning: From the word “next,” this means to ignore someone right in front of them.
Uses: When someone totally and bluntly disregards someone in front of them who’s trying to tell them something.
Example: Le hizo un nextazo en toda la cara delante de todos. (“She completely ignored him in front of everyone.”)


Meaning: Same as in English.
Uses: When something goes utterly wrong, whether it be plans, trying to talk to someone you like, or something else.
Example: Nuestra excursión a la sierra fue todo un fail. (“Our trip to the mountains was a total fail.”)


Meaning: Same as in English.
Uses: To refer to something that happens by chance and can’t be controlled.
Example: Cuando en LinkedIn te felicita la gente más random por tu nuevo puesto… (“When the most random people congratulate you on your new job on LinkedIn…”) [from a tweet by @GabyMugg]


Meaning: Same as in English (“yes”).
Uses: It has a celebratory connotation and is a way to emphasize “yes.”
Example: Acaba de salir la última temporada de mi serie favorita. YASS! (“The last season of my favorite series just came out. YASS!”)


Meaning: Por favor (“please”) + plis (Spanish spelling for “please”)
Uses: Used when you want to request something with an exceptionally gentle, affectionate tone.
Example: Mamá, déjame salir, porfaplis! (“Mom, let me go out, pretty please!”)


Meaning: Being alive.
Uses: Young people use it to refer to being really excited about something. It “gives them life.”
Example: Estoy muy living con mi nuevo pijama de cebra. (“I’m really excited about my new zebra pyjamas.”)


Meaning: Same as in English.
Uses: A teasing or derogatory term for someone who can’t do anything, or hardly anything, right.
Example: Eres un loser, tuviste una oportunidad y no supiste aprovecharla. (“You’re a loser, you had a chance and didn’t take it.”)


Meaning: Same as in English.
Uses: To emphasize the phrase that comes before it.
Example: Es mi mejor amiga ever. (“She’s my best friend ever.”)


Meaning: From “ship,” a shortened form of “relationship.”
Uses: To describe a fictional couple that you want to be together but aren’t.
Example: Menudo shippeo el de Alba y Natalia de OT. Albalia. (“I’m kind of shipping Alba and Natalia from Operación Triunfo (Spanish singing competition).”)

Young people also often use literal translations with the same meaning as the original, for example hacer un punto for “to make a point”, which would normally be translated as dejar clara una cosa or as a viejuno would say, ahí le has dao.

10 Spanish Terms That Are Popular On The Internet

This digital generation is also knows as la generación 140, referring to the character limit on Twitter — before it was raised to 280 characters — where young people express themselves with a limited amount of space, brevity and immediacy. It’s probably no surprise that the Spanish millennials use is heavily influenced by the internet and gaming.


Meaning: “Laughing out loud” or “Lots of laughs.”
Uses: Used to express that you really like something and find it funny.
Example: Me estoy acordando de ayer cuando me pegué un culazo, LOL! (“I’m remembering yesterday when I fell on my butt, LOL!”)


Meaning: “I don’t know.”
Uses: Used online to say you don’t know something.
– ¿Vas a venir esta noche? (“Are you coming tonight?”)
– Idk. (“Idk”)


Meaning: “Overpowered” (used by gamers)
Uses: It’s used for a character in a video game whose powers or abilities are too strong, making the game unfair.
Example: Este personaje está OP, si lo usas bien te haces muchas kills y avanzas mucho. (“This character is OP, if you use him well, you’ll get lots of kills and really advance.”)

Nerf (nerfear)

Meaning: To lower something or someone’s power (also used by gamers).
Uses: It’s used in situations where a game’s or a character’s powers are weakened (for example, stopping a character from being OP).
Example: Han nerfeado las opciones de juego. (“They nerfed the game options.”)


Meaning: “To be honest.”
Uses: Used to express candidness or sincerity.
Example: Ese color no te iba, TBH. (“That color didn’t work on you, tbh.”)


Meaning: “By the way”
Uses: Used to add or emphasize something.
Example: Canta que da gusto y es simpática, BTW. (“She sings well and is nice, BTW.”)


Meaning: “For the win”
Uses: Used to encourage players to reach the goal when they’re about to win.
Example: Vamos a jugar FTW! (“Let’s play FTW!”)


Meaning: From “carry”
Uses: When a player “carries,” it means they have the ability or enough power to win for the team on their own.
Example: ¿Xq (por qué) los jugadores pro me carrean? (“Why are the players carrying for me?”)


Meaning: A quick attack against an enemy, catching them off guard and without enough resources to defend themselves.
Uses: Common tactic in strategy and shooter games.
Example: El rush no se puede quitar, es una estrategia de juego. (“You can’t remove the rush, it’s a strategy of the game.”)


Meaning: “Away from keyboard”
Uses: Used in PC gaming when the player isn’t at their computer.
Example: ¿Qué hago si mi equipo está AFK? (“What do I do if my team is AFK?”)

The slangy Spanish millennials use also involves changing the endings of words, sometimes shortening them, for example using Insta instead of Instagram. Other times they add on to them, like fotuqui instead of foto (“photo”). They’re also experts at taking famous expressions from memes and incorporating them in their lexicon, like emosido engañado from before and ola k ase (“hey, what’s up”). 

Do you feel like a normie because you didn’t even know half of these expressions? Use some of the expressions we’ve shown you and you’ll see how you improve in postureo (“posing, showing off”).

Thanks to Luna (my favorite millenial) for her help.

This article originally appeared on the Spanish edition of Babbel Magazine.

Learn more Spanish today.
Try Babbel