Mexican Spanish – Orale, Hijole And Others

Do you have a Mexican friend? Are you taking a trip to Mexico? Sure enough, you can come to a country without knowing its local language. However, being in an unfamiliar city where residents speak another language can be stressful even for those who travel extensively. Thus, knowing the native language, just a little, can significantly decrease your travel stress. Whatever your interaction with Mexico actually is, you are likely to come across one of these “-le” ending words. They use these, particularly órale, in Mexican colloquial speech. But they are not slang, they are legitimate Spanish words that are used as a cliché. Master these words and you’ll sound like a Chicano. Sharpen your mind and boost your brainpower by learning fun words that will make you feel more confident in casual communication. Let’s explore what they mean.


What Does Órale Mean?


The word Órale derives from ahora (now). Overtime the word ahora lost its initial “-a” and the suffix “-le” was added at the end to become órale. Apart from Mexico, you’ll often hear the word órale in the streets of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Perhaps, it’s one of the most tricky words to give a fixed translation.

Órale to Express an Interjection


Órale is a versatile word and covers a variety meanings based on the context. The word is most commonly used to express interjection or surprise like Oh my God or wow. So, you can use órale when you’re surprised, shocked, or startled. Have you won a lottery? Got a message saying your girlfriend broke up with you? ¡Órale just works well in these situations. Use this word with confidence and carefree abandon. Though, there is a bit of nuance behind the word, but this sort of stuff you will not learn in a book.


Órale to Express Action


One more very common usage of this word is to invoke some action, such as hurry up, come on, let’s go, and etc. Does it take forever for your girlfriend to get ready for dinner? ¡Órale! Do you need to drag your friend out of bed for a trip to the country? ¡Órale!

Órale to Express Affirmation

This word is also used to express affirmation or agreement to say alright, okay, fine, and etc. Actually, you can use it to say yes for any occasion. You will not go wrong if you use Órale with the same meaning as “sí”, but don’t go overboard.


Órale for Greeting Someone


Would you like to discover more meanings of Órale? You can also use this word as a greeting, like what’s up in English. So, when your Mexican friend says “¿órale vato?”, it means “what’s up man?”. The vato in this sentence is the Mexican slang word used for man. Let’s consider some examples:


Órale pues in English means Alright then / Yeah right. This can have a sarcastic undertone depending on your mood.

¡Órale güey! – What’s up, dude?


To sum up, this word may convey everything from shock to surprise. Just one word and so many applications! Use it randomly in your sentences, and it will probably still make sense.

There are lots of words you will not find in a standard dictionary. They convey the emotions which are difficult to express using standard words. Let’s try to figure them out.

Híjole, Újule, and Éjele


Híjole: The closest equivalent to this word híjole in English is jeez, wow, yikes, shit, or damn. The híjole meaning depends on the context, mood, and tone. The word expresses everything from frustration to surprise and from desperation to shock. It has varying connotations, so be careful when using this word in an informal way.

Újule: This word is used to express disappointment or dismay and usually introduces the bad news.

Éjele: If you revealed something embarrassing about somebody, and saying “whoa” isn’t enough to express the exact emotion, the word “éjele” is what you need.

Other Tricky Words

École: This word is used to express absolute agreement, like totally or of course.

Úchale: While újule is used to express disappointment, úchale expresses pronounced displeasure and disgust.

Quihúbole: Qué hubo is a common greeting among friends in Mexico and it frequently pairs with carnal or compadre depending on how close you are. Literally, it means what’s going on. This question is often rendered as quihúbole in a very informal setting.

When it comes to the way words are used, you should be prepared for the contemporary nuances you will be faced with. Sure enough, Mexican Spanish would not sound the same without these words. That said, keeping up with the evolution of the language you are learning is important for efficient communication and developing stronger cultural bonds.

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