English-speaking people did not invent coolness! Even if « cool » is now worldwide used, there are many expressions to say the same thing in Spanish. If you want to look cool over the globe, you should better learn the slang all young Latinos and Spanish people currently speak. It would be a shame to not understand the nice compliment somebody just made you, wouldn’t it?
Let’s see if you sound more Argentinian or Spaniard!
« Guay » is typical from Spain. Originally, “guay” qualified a good quality hachich sold by Moroccans in contrary to “jaravaca”, which was the cheap one -we promise this is not an advertisement! It became a very popular expression during the 1980s thanks to the Spanish hippies and the « Movida », a punk movement. Even in our days, it remains a word used by young Spanish people with that world-famous fiesta spirit!
The latin word “vappa” was wine whose vapors made it disgusting and nauseous wine. However “vappa” was also used to describe a corrupted man without morals or a beggar. How the hell did Spaniards transform it in an expression to refer to this cool and handsome guy across the street?
“Padre” is the formal way to call your dad, but in colloquial terms it refers to nice things or to your tastes. In northern Mexico, they say « ¡qué padre! » to say that something is cool… don’t ask us why! But if your Mexican friends like something you honestly find boring, don’t provoke them and just say: « ¡qué padre! »
Otherwise, I’ll tell your father!
This word is widely used in Mexico City and is supposed to have an Asturian origin as “xidu” meant beautiful or good. Gypsies transformed it in “chiro” to describe something shiny, just as this girl you would like to talk to in Spanish. Out of nowhere it came to Mexico and lost its “r” in the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, Mexican people replaced it by a “d”, because it sounds much more chido that way.
Most of Spanish-speaking countries in South America use this expression. The history of this word is really interesting as it comes from Efik people (today known as Nigerians) who were imported as slaves to Cuba. It described somebody who was brave, strong, vaillant and insolent. This language was an important influence for the traditional Cuban music during the 19th and 20th centuries and we suppose this is why this word became so cool.
Of course Argentinians can NEVER be like other countries. Actually, this is the only country where you are going to hear this expression, especially among kids. Literally, “copar” means enjoy being with somebody you like or the enthusiasm you feel when you understand you might be falling in love.
Are you disappointed? We feel you…
Now that you are a Spanish and etymology specialist, we hope that you found the best expression to sound like a local during your next trip. But be careful or nobody will understand you and that’s actually not cool.
Do you know any other local expressions to say something is cool in Spanish? Leave them in the comments!