If you work or live in a multi-cultural environment you probably experience difficulty understanding what other people say. Do not worry, this happens even with native Spanish-speakers! There are dictionaries that collect colloquial vocabulary from several countries in one book. These are ideal to compare meanings of a word and know which countries share it. Obviously collecting Spanish slang from many countries in just one publication is not easy, and usually it only includes the most common and basic words. Also, generally, only the main countries are included.
Here I present four dictionaries that collect Spanish slang from different countries: two bilinguals (English and Spanish) and two in Spanish.
Multi-Country Spanish Slang Dictionaries With English Translations
1. NTC’s dictionary of Latin American Spanish
by Rafael A. Olivares
This dictionary is divided into five sections:
• The list of Spanish words in alphabetical order. Each entry identifies the country or countries that use the word, the English translation and the equivalent in standard Spanish.
• A useful English index with the Spanish slang equivalent
• A standard Spanish index with the Spanish slang equivalents
• Tables list the Spanish slang words by country that are featured through the dictionary
• A list of words borrowed from English. The ones that are accepted by the Royal Spanish Academy are marked.
2. Multicultural Spanish Dictionary: How Everyday Spanish Differs From Country to Country
by Augustin Martinez
This dictionary includes Spanish slang but also focuses on Spanish differences among countries. It features three main sections:
• The English-Spanish section includes the words that vary in one or more Spanish-speaking countries matched with the standard Spanish and the different words used in each country.
• The Spanish-English section gives you the English translation of a Spanish word.
• The “Subject Areas” section groups the words in different topics like foods, animals, sports, personal articles, etc.
Multi-Country Spanish Slang Dictionaries in Spanish
3. Diccionario de Americanismos
by Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española
This one is the most expensive, but the most complete by far; plus it is backed by the prestigious Spanish Language Academies Association.
• All the words from the different Spanish-speaking countries are presented together in alphabetical order. Each entry identifies the country or countries that use the word along with the definitions in Spanish. If there is a saying that uses that word, it is also included.
• Includes a Índice sinonímico or “Synonym Index” that list all the words used in Latin America for a particular term. For example: all the words for “corn,” “money,” “a drink” or “crazy.”
Finally check out these valuable extras:
• A list of hundreds of demonyms used to name the people of many cities, towns and places from Latin America. For example: porteño is the name use to refer to a person from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
• A list of common Spanish nicknames and the countries that use them. For example: Chu is the nickname for a persona called Jesús in Nicaragua, Panamá and Puerto Rico.
4. Diccionario de Jergas de Habla Hispana
by Roxana Fitch
A good collection of Spanish slang words from 20 Spanish-speaking countries and the United States. Each country has its own section that lists all the words in alphabetical order. Words that are influenced by indigenous languages are presented separate within the same country.
Do you know of other Spanish slang dictionaries I should add to my library?
Check out these other Spanish Slang Dictionary articles.