Translation of ¡GÜEY! in English
*When used pejoratively, see history of the word below.
If you live in Los Angeles you have definitely heard this colloquial Mexican slang expression, but even if you have taken a university level Spanish class you may not have ever come across this word in writing. It is used to refer to any person without using their name. Perhaps you didn’t know that it was written in such a strange manner. When spoken, güey, sounds more like “Wey.” People will say things like “pass me that güey!” or even just “Hey güey!” It’s so common that it is often used just as emphasis.
So what are the origins of this strange looking word, güey?
History of the term Güey:
Güey originally comes from the word “buey” which means Ox. Similar to the Italian concept of “cornuto” or “cuckold” in English. When your wife or husband cheat on you, you would grow horns and be a “Güey.” That is the older definition of the word: you are an idiot because you are unaware your wife cheated on you and you are walking around with horns on your head.
EXAMPLES OF USES OF Güey
To denote stupidity or ignorance, in expressions like “¡Qué güey soy, se me olvidó el celular!” (I’m such an idiot, I forgot my (cell) phone!) Or “¡No seas güey!’” (Don’t be an idiot!)
“¡No güey! ¡Estoy en el Celular!” (No dude! I’m on the phone!); “No güey, no pude ir.” (No dude, I couldn’t go.)
To refer to a person whose name is unknown, like “¿Que no es tu hermano aquel güey de camisa roja?” (Isn’t the dude with the red shirt your brother?) (source)
and it means “Dude” in Mexican Spanish.
The term can also be defined as: Yo! (to get someone’s attention) Man! Guy! But keep in mind it’s not exactly polite when used with a stranger.
This expression is used almost everywhere and there is no restriction for usage with regards to age, gender, or social status. However, something to consider is that this expression is mostly used between friends. There are a plethora of words that are used in a similar way (and many of them are more vulgar) for example: machin, vato, puto, cabrón, entenado etc. But again, these words are much more vulgar and should only be used jokingly among close friends. Güey is by far the best choice for saying “hey dude” or “what’s up dude” in Spanish.
Whats up dude? = ¿Que onda Güey?
Want to learn more Mexican Spanish slang? Check out these posts.
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