Your English teacher may not have approved of it. And the older generations may start muttering about kids and lawns when they hear it. But slang helps keep languages interesting and alive. And many of the words and expressions we use today started out as slang. Often playful and colorful, slang is like a laboratory for language.
Slang is everywhere, and most of it defies direct translation. Want to learn more about slang around the world? We’ve collected some of the funniest and most interesting slang words and phrases in different languages.
Funny Australian Slang: Who gave that lizard a beer?
Australia is known for its colorful way with the English language. Here’s one of the most puzzling Aussie phrases:
Flat out like a lizard drinking.
Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with drunk reptiles. Instead, it means you’re extremely busy.
Long Teeth and Spanish Cows: Funny French Slang
Avoir les dents longues.
Translation: Long in the tooth.
Meaning: In English, of course, this expression means “old” or “elderly.” In French, though, it simply means “ambitious.”
Parler comme une vache espagnole.
Translation: To talk like a Spanish cow.
Meaning: To speak poorly.
Arrête de te la péter.
Translation: Stop snapping your suspender against your chest. But “péter” also means “to fart.”
Meaning: Stop bragging.
Whistling Pigs and Pony Rides: Funny German Slang
Translation: “I believe my pig is whistling.”
Meaning: That’s ridiculous! Because who’s ever heard of a whistling pig?
Meaning: This can mean good looking, horny or cool. It all depends on the context. Tricky word, that.
Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof.
Translation: Life isn’t a place for riding ponies.
Meaning: Life is tough. You will not get a pony. Get over it.
Nur ein Schwein trinkt allein.
Translation: Only pigs drink alone
Meaning: If you’re drinking alone, you might be an alcoholic.
Translation: A Polish exit.
Meaning: To leave without saying goodbye
Funny Slang From Sweden, Where Chillin’ is an Art Form
Translation: A combo of “friday” and cosy
Meaning: Similar to the English “vegging out,” “Fredagsmys” means watching TV and eating junk food. What better way to spend a Friday night, indeed?
Funny slang from Norway: Of raisins and sausages
En rosin i polsen
Translation: A raisin in the sausage.
Meaning: A pleasant surprise in something that was already good. I wouldn’t be the first non-Scandinavian to find the combo of raisins and sausage unappealing. But hey, lutefisk is a Norwegian delicacy, so what do I know?
Canadian slang is also funny, eh?
Yes, Canada speaks English. But they put their own spin on it:
Americans have a beer belly, but their lucky neighbors to the north sport “Molson muscles,” after a popular beer.
Heard only in British Columbia, “skookum” means “great.”
Because “kilometer” just has too many syllables, eh?
Funny Slang from China: Leftover girls, house boys and naked weddings
剩女 (shèng nǚ)
Translation: “leftover girls”
Meaning: educated urban women who can’t find suitable partners
宅男 (zháinán) (male) and 宅女 (zháinǚ) (female)
Translation: “house male” and “house female”
Meaning: Geek or nerds who spend most of their time at home, in front of the computer.
裸婚 (luǒ hūn)
Translation: Naked Wedding. Not to be confused with “Naked Lunch.”
Meaning: Getting married without a ceremony.
裸辞 (luǒ cí)
Translation: “Naked Resignation”
Meaning: Quitting without another job lined up.
Funny Spanish slang: Frogs, STDs and Cake
Me estoy comiendo el coco.
Translation: I’m eating the head.
Meaning: Get your mind out of the gutter- it means “I’m trying to think.”
Pichazo (Costa Rica)
Translation: A big penis
Meaning: A lot of something. It’s sort of like how we might say “a crap-ton” or “a sh*t-ton” in English.
Jalarse una torta (Costa Rica)
Translation: To pull a cake.
Meaning: To screw something up.
Bacán/Bacano (Chile, Columbia, Peru and Cuba)
Translation: “Cool.” But beware . . . according to FluentU, “In other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, this word can mean anything from “lover” to “boss” to “steep” to “posh” because we live in a strange and confusing world.” This is why it’s important to use a translator who’s familiar with the local culture!
Mi Llave/Llavería/Llavero (Columbia)
Translation: My key/My keychain
Meaning: In Columbia, this is what you would call your close friends. Awww, how sweet!
Estar Prendido/Prendida (Columbia)
Translation: To be lit.
Meaning: To be drunk, tipsy or buzzed. But beware! According to FluentU, this phrase has a different, more sexual meaning in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.
Translation: A frog
Meaning: A snitch. An English equivalent would be “a rat” or “a bird.”
Qué Gonorrea! (Columbia)
Translation: Just exactly what it looks like.
Meaning: An all-purpose expression that can be a term of endearment or an insult. The expression “¡Qué Gonorrea!” can mean something like “Oh no, I’m short on time!”
Mamar Gallo (Columbia)
Translation: To suck a rooster
Meaning: Not as bad as it sounds, this phrase means “to procrastinate or waste time.”
Tengo un ratón en la cabeza. (Venezuela)
Translation: I have a rat in my head!
Meaning: I have a hangover!
Slang Around the World- What’s your favorite?
As you can see, slang words and phrases like these are a great reason to use a professional translator to translate important content. Some words have unexpected double meanings, and a good translator or translation company has the cultural knowledge to help your business avoid miscommunication. Check out our language and translation services to see how we can help!
What are your favorite slang words and phrases in other languages? Let us know in the comments!
Image credits: By SeanMack – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link; By Arminnius – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link, By agriflanders – Belgisce Studbook van de Shetland Pony, CC BY 2.0, Link, Some rights reserved by marke1996