Miami Slang Glossary: Pero Like, It's Super-Definitive, Bro
Some visitors might prepare for a trip to Miami by brushing up on their high school Spanish. Which is silly because most of the people they'll actually run into here speak English. Sure, the English here may be peppered with Spanglish phrases and local sayings, and is often delivered in the distinct Miami dialect. So to help our city's many visitors, Riptide has put together a handy glossary of Miami slang. Common words and phrases are defined, and some are used in sentences (often in the way they would be commonly heard in Miami, and then how the phrases might be used if they ever escaped the 305).
Of course, our glossary is a work in progress. If we've missed anything, feel free to add it in the comments, and if it's legit, we'll gladly add it to the Miami Slang Glossary.
Bro - Pretty much anyone being addressed regardless of gender or age. The term is often used to begin or end a sentence.
- "Bro, like, let's go to the Beach and get a bottle tonight, bro."
- "Bro, your home loan has not been approved."
Broward - Unless specifics are truly needed (and they rarely are), pretty much anywhere in Broward County is referred to simply as Broward. In fact, most of southern Palm Beach County can also be referred to as Broward.
- "He says he goes to FAU, but I'm not going to drive all the way up to Broward to see him."
- "Toronto is so far north it's practically in Broward."
Bueno - Translates to "good" but is peppered through Spanglish liberally and can mean things like "well," depending upon the context.
Cafecito - Cuban espresso made from a dark roast coffee with a sugary cream added to the pitcher. Also, the reason you will rarely hear the word "espresso" in Miami outside of Starbucks or fancy restaurants.
Casa Yuca - Somewhere extremely far out of the way. Other variations include BFE (butt-fuck Egypt) and casa de carajo.
- "I have a date tonight, but I have to drive all the way to Casa Yuca to pick her up."
- "Amazon doesn't add any extra charges to ship to Casa Yuca."
Chanx - The shortened form of chancletas (the Spanish word for flip-flops). Not only a popular footwear option in Miami, but also a popular child-rearing tool.
- "Grab your chanx -- we're going to the beach."
- "Karl Lagerfeld shocked the fashion world today by unveiling a groundbreaking collection of Chanel chanx."
Photo by Ivylise Simones
Chonga - A young woman, usually from the western reaches of the county, who favors Sharpie-grade lip-liner and eyebrows, tight Brazilian jeans, Chinese slippers, doorknocker earrings, and gold nameplate necklaces. Similar but distinct from Southern California's "chola." Reports from the field indicate the word and overall style might be disappearing among today's youth, who prefer the term "ratchet" instead.
La Ciudad Que Progresa - Developers originally forced the nickname "The City of Progress" on Hialeah because it was planned as a playground for the rich and elite. Of course, anyone who has ever been there knows the Spanish translation of the nickname is better suited.
Dale - Known in the rest of America as Pitbull's catchphrase, the expression can mean a lot of things depending upon the context. It could roughly translate to "let's go," "hit it," "come on," "do it," or "give it." It can be used encouragingly, flirtatiously, or simply as a way to say goodbye. We can't actually use it in a sentence because its meaning is so vague.
Doralzuela - A nickname for the suburban city of Doral, which has the highest concentration of Venezuelan-Americans of any city in the United States.
Eating shit - Meaning to pass time by doing nothing. It comes from a Spanish term that translates to "shit eater" but denotes someone who is rude or clueless.
- "I was supposed to finish my homework, but I just ended up watching Netflix and eating shit."
- "Congress failed to pass a budget deal before the deadline today because they've spent the past two weeks eating shit."
Get down from the car - The Spanish phrase for "getting out of a car" translates to "get down from" or "get off of" the car. So if you hear the phrase in Miami, don't assume it's because we have a lot of people stubbornly standing on top of cars.
I swear! - An expression of frustration.
Irregardless - Miami's version of "regardless."
Key rats - A resident of Key Biscayne who rarely leaves. "Beach rats," referring to similar Miami Beach residents, is also used but not quite as frequently.
Leetirally - Like millennials everywhere, young Miamians are prone to overuse and misuse the word "literally," but it literally might be more ubiquitous here than anywhere else. The Miami dialect pronunciation only makes it stand out more.
Mami or papi - By no means unique to Miami, but prominent enough where it still trips up some visitors with a freshman Spanish class knowledge. Despite what Google Translate says, it does not necessarily refer to someone's mother or father and can be used quite flirtatiously.
A mission - Anything that takes a long time, and by that we mean more than five minutes than you would have liked. Commonly used in the phrases "what a mission" and "such a mission."
- "Trying to find cheap parking in South Beach is such a mission."
- "We may have been the first men on the moon, but going to the bathroom in space was such a mission."
Pastillera fest - Any sort of rave that involves people taking a large amount of pills.
Pata sucia - Anyone (though mostly women) who takes off their shoes and walks barefoot in public. Especially those who do so either at the club or walking back home or to their car from the club. The phrase literally translates to "dirty hoof" but has become popular because it's just one letter away from the phrase "puta sucia," which, of course, means "dirty whore."
- "I hate to be such a pata sucia, but my feet are killing me from dancing all night."
- "Food Network host Ina Garten is said to be working on a Telemundo version of her show with the working title The Pata Sucia Contessa."
Pero like - "Pero" means "but" in Spanish, and the phrase is used to interject into a conversation a new, previously undiscussed point.
- "Suzie, that boy is no good for you." "Pero like, he's super-hot."
- "Johnson, sales numbers were down 20 percent across the board last quarter." "Pero like, it's not my fault the housing market collapsed."
Photo by Jose D. Duran
Pookie-head - Used almost exclusively by Miami youths and nowhere else to refer to someone who does a lot of molly or ecstasy.
- "The pookie-head is at Space every Saturday until like 10 in the morning."
- "Is your child in danger of becoming a pookie-head? Ten signs they may be addicted to molly, tonight at 11 on the evening news."
Porfa - Everyone knows what "por favor" means in Spanish. You're just more likely to hear the shortened "porfa" down here.
Que cute - The Japanese have "kawaii!" Miamians have "que cute!" -- meaning "how cute!" It just means something is really cute.
- "Ay, pero que cute your wedding invitations were."
- "The royal family released the first official portrait of Prince George today. Que cute!"
Ratchetera and Ratchota - Pepe Billete endorsed terms for ratchet actions or ratchet people. Of course a proper explanation of the term "ratchet" could require an entirely separate article but generally refers to something "ghetto," low-class, or dirty.
- "He's so ratchetera he got a blowjob in the alley behind Mac's."
- "Well-known ratchota impersonator Miley Cyrus has extended her North American tour."
Refi - A not quite politically correct adverb derived from refugees. Used to describe something that other Americans might call "fresh off the boat." Told you it wasn't politically correct.
La Saguesera - A Spanglish approximation of "southwest area." Though it refers to an area directly southwest of the City of Miami and not the entire southwest region of Miami-Dade County and is characterized by suburban sprawl, strip malls, and Cuban cafeterias. It generally extends west from Little Havana to Westchester (not including portions of the Gables) and south to South Miami and Kendall.
Super - Miami's enhancing adverb and adjective of choice. It's not "really hot in here"; it's "super-hot." She's not "astonishingly good-looking"; she's "super-sexy." He didn't run "very fast"; he ran "super-fast."
Supposably - Much like "irregardless" is to "regardless," this is Miami's take on "supposedly."
- "Well, supposably, she's going to get her boobs done."
- "Supposably, the hacking attacks were believed to be carried out by member of Anonymous."
The Beach/the Grove/the Gables/the Key - Locals rarely refer to places such as Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables by their full names, but rather as the Beach, the Grove, and the Gables. Variations like "the Pines" for Pembroke Pines or "the Lakes" for Miami Lakes are also sometimes used.
This guy - Used to refer to a bro, but a very particular bro. Either someone you don't like and aren't well-acquainted with or someone you love and are close with. We'll give you examples of both.
- "Then this guy just cut me off out of nowhere."
- "This guy! Graduating from college! Can you believe?!"
Tiki-tiki music - Any sort of fast-paced house or techno music.
- "My neighbor kept me up all night by playing that tiki-tiki music nonstop."
- "And the award for best tiki-tiki music album goes to Skrillex."
What dey do - A hip-hop greeting meaning "How are you" or "What's up?" Distinct from Houston's similar "What it do?" and Atlanta's "What it is?"
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.