How to Speak Like a Paisa

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Short on time? People in Medellin use a few different words that you won’t find in your average Spanish language textbook.

If you’ve spent any time studying Spanish, you probably feel pretty prepared for what awaits you when you touchdown in Medellin. However, you may quickly notice that the paisa way of talking is a bit different from what you learned in class!

The good news is that with a little practice (and some expert knowledge), you can start speaking like a paisa in no time at all. 

To help you out, I’ve put together a couple of words that you’re likely to hear during your stay in Medellin. Let’s check them out and start fooling the locals into thinking you’re one of them!

No Dar Papaya

One of the first phrases you’ll learn when you land in Medellin is “no dar papaya”. 

But…isn’t papaya a fruit?

Well, yes. But, in this case, “no dar papaya” refers to something completely different.

This ultra-Colombian phrase is used to refer to not flashing around expensive items. When you’re “dando papaya”, you’re probably walking with your wallet in one hand and your iPhone in the other. 

If you’ve read our guide on safety in Medellin, you know that this is a big no-no (and really, is a big no-no wherever you go). 

So, keep your expensive items in your pocket and use your street smarts. If you do, you’re unlikely to get scolded with this phrase!

Ex: ¡No de papaya!


Another Colombian word you’re likely to hear is parce. This word basically means dude, or guy. 

You can use it to refer to a friend of yours or to someone that you have yet to meet. It’s a word that you won’t really hear in formal language, but are pretty likely to hear out and about on the streets of Medellin.

Ex: Que más, parce?

Que Chimba

Another Colombian classic is “que chimba”!

This phrase is like saying “how cool” or “how great”. It’s used to refer to something fun, cool, or exciting that’s happened. 

Although you might think the people using it are mad, don’t worry. This phrase is actually a good thing to hear because it means the people you’re with are enjoying themselves!

Ex: ¡Que chimba la película!

De Una

De una basically means “let’s do it” or “okay”. You’re likely to hear people using this word if you’ve invited them to do something. 

For example, let’s say you invite someone to go out for coffee. As a response, they say “de una!” 

What they’re telling you is, “Yes” or “let’s do it!”

This is an easy phrase to pick up and is a pretty fun one to use. If you’re wanting to sound Colombian, go ahead and throw this word out from time to time. 

Ex: ¿Vamos a tomar un café? De una!


Not to be confused with parce, this means to meet up with your friends. You can use it as a verb or as a noun.

If you use it as a verb, you’ll use it to say “let’s meet”. You’ll have to conjugate it properly, however, so make sure you practice a bit before you use it!

Otherwise, you can use it as a noun to refer to a meeting. That’s often a much easier way to try out this colloquialism if you’re just learning Spanish.

Ex: Parchemos hoy noche.


When I first started learning Spanish, I had a friend who said “vale” all the time. And, no matter how much I googled, I couldn’t figure out what on earth this word meant!

Well, it turns out that vale is just a way of saying “okay” or “got it”. 

Despite being hard to hunt down a definition, this is actually a pretty easy word to get the hang of. Next time you’re talking to someone, see if you can work this into a conversation!

Ex: Seria $22,500. Vale.

Ya Se Encarretó

Another expression you might hear someone use is “ya se encarretó.”

This phrase means is used to refer to someone who’s fallen in love with a specific activity. 

For example, let’s say you try out a pole dance class in Medellin and really get into it. Someone could use this phrase on you!

Ex: Hace pole dance todos los días. Ya se encarretó. 

Que Peye

Que peye is a phrase used to refer to something that’s gone or going wrong. You can use it to talk about disgust or disappointment in something. 

Although this expression can be a phrase in and of itself, you can also use peye as an adjective to describe something. 

Ex: La comida es muy peye.

Que Chevere

This is a phrase that’s pretty similar to “que chimba.” This phrase refers to something that’s cool or good. 

Like the phrase “que peye”, you can also use chevere as an adjective instead of as an exclamation. 

Ex: Los hoteles de Casacol son cheveres.

When in Rome…Speak Like a Paisa

So there you have it! Those are a few of the top words and phrases you might come across while visiting Medellin.

With this guide on how to speak like a paisa, I’m confident you’ll blend in. And, even if you don’t, you can certainly impress your Colombian friends with your new lingo!

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