This word also comes from the movie Y tu mamá también. It’s actually a quite popular word among youngsters in Mexico. Well, not only in Mexico, rather in many parts of Latin-America.

It was the first time I heard pendejo; in Spain most people just use gilipollas (a word that’s pretty much not used at all outside the Peninsula). So what does pendejo mean? Personally, I thought it was pretty offensive at first, but it’s not. Sure, it’s used to call someone names, but it’s not vulgar or something.

Literally pendejo means “pubic hair”, but it’s mainly used to describe people that are “sly”, “dumb”, a “nerd” or sometimes even a “coward”. Like I said, it’s used to offend people but it’s not really shocking if you decide to use it.

Sentences

El pendejo huyó corriendo.
The coward fled, running.

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February 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Graham March 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

«Literally pendejo means “sly”»

Actually, literally it means pubic hair.

Reply

Ramses March 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Really? LOL Will dig a bit further :P .

Edit: You’re right, but it’s not often used in that sense.

Reply

Ben March 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

I’ve noticed that my friends from Mexico say this word a LOT. They’ll usually use it when they’re joking around with someone, but not in a mean way, more just playful.

Reply

Atomsuku March 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Another meaning for this word is “kid” or “immature”.

Reply

Danny March 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Careful with the word. It’s not a matter of what it literally means, but rather how we, native speakers, use it. It’s the sense, intention, motive. You forgot you should also consider who says it, where, why, how, under what circumstances to grasp a better meaning (and intention) of the expression. Joking around with the word among friends is possible, but I would think about it twice before recommending you use it. It still is an offensive expression. It has discriminatory and pejorative connotations.

Reply

Danny March 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Oh, and by the way, if any native speaker hears a foreigner speaking that way, you will very probably be seen as disrespectful or otherwise, vulgar. Let me share a secret about many of my fellow native speakers: when they hear a foreigner speaking with bad words, they find it amusing to hear their pronunciation and unnatural usage of such expressions. Bad language has a strong emotional (and cultural) discharge which stems deep in the psyche of native speakers of any language.

Reply

Ramses March 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm

@Danny; you’re right, but isn’t this with every word? Also, it’s not used that much in Spain, so it also depends from region to region.

About non-native speakers using slang in their speech: there’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, people laughed at me because I use slang often (not only in Spanish, also in Dutch and English) because they find it plain weird hearing a foreigner using it. It’s not even that it sounds unnatural when I use it, it’s just that they don’t expect it. I’d say: know when to use slang and use it if you like. I mean, this blog is all about getting fluent and slang and idioms is a great deal of being fluent.

Reply

Danny March 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm

You are right, but don’t forget that fluency is not only lexical, it’s also suprasegmental: intonation, rhythm, stress.

Reply

Danny March 23, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Oh, one more thing. You are right when you say “know when to use it”; however, that sentence implies a lot of assumptions. Using slang is ok, using bad language is a different thing. I repeat it carries sociocultural implications. In other words, at least for many of my fellow Mexicans, being insulted in Spanish by a native is aggressive; being insulted by a non-native speaker (either accidentally or intentionally) is even worse. Culture and language are embedded.

Reply

Ramses March 23, 2009 at 7:47 pm

True, but I’ve written countless times about that (oh, well, maybe not :-) . Nice idea then for a new article).

Reply

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