Colombians take much joy in their particular style of linguistic acrobatics and slang. Colombians freely convert verbs to nouns and vice versa, so take each word as a fluid concept.

Un camello

(n), camellar (v) Work, or working. A good way to refer to a particularly trying task.

La/una chimba

(adj) Used to describe a situation or thing that is wonderful. Roughly synonymous with the youthful American usage of “awesome”. Variations include “Qué chimba!” (“Nice!”).


(n) Body odour. A crass but still useable term.


(adj) “Cool”, loosely. Used to describe the subset of cool things – or happenings – that’s particularly classy, well executed or elegant. Think football passes or a good outfit. Chevere and bacán are other words for “cool”.


(adj) “That really sucks”. Used in response to a comment or situation that’s aggressively bad or heavy.


(n) Cocaine. Regional translations include scrambled eggs, coffee with milk or (as here) a parakeet.

Al pelo

(adj) Common response to a question like “How was your day?” that means “Good!” or “Perfect!”

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