My daily thoughts are peppered with Spanish words because sometimes Spanish just says it better. You can translate these words to English but they end up as phrases or weakened by qualifications. Andale pues!
Cabron—Literally means a male goat and is sometimes translated as “cuckold.” That said, this word is widely used and can range from a playful greeting among friends “Hey Cabron!,” (like “Hey Fucker!”) to an insult akin to “asshole.”
Chingar—Typically translating as “fuck” but meaning much more than that. When used as a serious insult chingar is actually nastier than fuck. That said, there are probably a hundred variations on the word chingar, from chingada, which means a screw-up, to chingon, which is a compliment, as in “El es muy Chingón,” or “He’s very badass.” As Octavio Paz writes “The word chingar with all its multiple meanings, defines a great part of our life and classifies our relations with the rest of our friends and fellow citizens.”
Desvelado—The feeling you have after a sleepless night.
Estrenar—To use or wear something for the first time. “Estoy estrenando mi falda.”
Madre–Literally means mother but is also a complex slang word that, depending on context and usage, can mean anything from worthless to superlative. For more information on usage see these examples.
Mande?–A more polite way of saying “what?” when you don’t hear or understand someone. This distinctly Mexican usage implies “I’m at your command.” More on this here.
Pendejo–Literally “a pubic hair.” In usage, more like “asshole” or “dumbass,” as in “That pinche pendejo stole my lighter.”
Pinche—Translates to “a chef’s assistant” but I’ve never heard it used this way. Pinche is typically used as an adjective and sometimes translated as “like the adjective form of fucking,” but this isn’t quite right because in Mexico the adjective “pinche” isn’t as offensive as the adjective “fucking.” Pinche could be translated as “lowly” or “worthless,” and is used to describe anything that sucks or is a pain in the ass. Pinche is almost always used in connection to a noun, as in “Pinche cabron!” or “Dónde están mis pinche calcetines?”
Pues–Can mean “well,” “since,” “because,” or “then.” For example, it can be used like “Well…” to begin a sentence as in “Pues, no se.” It is also used as “then,” as in “Pues vete a dormir. (Then go to sleep.)”
Provecho–In Mexico when you leave a restaurant and a friend or stranger is still eating, you say “Buen Provecho,” which literally means “good profit,” as in “I hope you benefit from your meal.” I was amused to note that if you ask Google translate for the English translation of “Buen Provecho,” it comes up with Bon Appetit.
Editor’s note: Special thanks to Susannah Rigg at Mexico Retold for calling my attention to desvelado and estrenar. And an eternal shout-out to Cabo Bob for providing the definitive dictionary to Mexican slang, Mexican Slang 101.