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Remote office slang: Nine native expressions to use with Spanish work colleagues online

As many people in Spain are working from home during the pandemic and communicating with their Spanish colleagues online, understanding the most common expressions used in a Spanish remote working environment is more important than ever if you don’t want to get lost in translation. ¡Manos a la obra! (Let’s get down to it!).

spanish office slang
Do you know someone in Spain who's 'made their August'? Photo: Shuttestock

Tener enchufe – To have friends in high places

Knowing the right people is a chief concern for many Spanish workers as it’s pretty much endemic in all professional fields, especially among the country’s political and business elite. To have enchufe, which literally means ‘a socket’ like the one you plug your gadgets into, is often more important than your skills and qualifications for a Spanish employer looking to help out a friend or a relative. You can also describe a person with good connections as enchufado, plugged in. 

Photo: Jono/Pixabay

Lameculos – Brown-noser or arse-licker

Spanish speakers have a few other ways of describing colleagues who suck up to the boss or for anyone else who is too eager to please another person: pelota‘ (ball in Spanish) or perrito faldero (lapdog).  

Photo: No-longer-here/Pixabay

Hacer su agosto – To feather one’s nest or make one’s pile.

If you know someone who found a niche for themselves in the business world and is now making a killing, in Spanish you say they’ve ‘made their August’ and they’re wrapping themselves up, forrándose. If someone is deemed to have a carefree and opulent lifestyle, Spaniards say they live like a marquis or a king, vivir como un marqués or vivir como un rey

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Ser un/a trepa – To be an arriviste or a go-getter

If a colleague is easily and unscrupulously making their way up the company ladder, you colloquially refer to them as a ‘climber’ in Spanish.

Photo: Shutterstock

Dar carpetazo – To shelve something

In business Spanish, if a work project or assignment is getting nowhere and you decide to put it aside, you ‘smash the file’.

Photo: Shutterstock

Escurrir el bulto – To pass the buck 

When someone cheekily passes off work or responsibilities to other colleagues in the workplace, they ‘drain the lump’ (as weird as it may sound) in Spanish. 

Comerse el marrón – get lumbered with work

In Spanish, the person stuck with the work after their colleague passed the buck to them has to ‘eat the brown’. Un marrón in Spanish is also a way of referring to something that’s a problem, a mess or a drag.

Photo: Alexas Photos/Pixabay

Pringar – To slog it out

Working long hours is commonplace in Spain. The two-hour lunch break some companies gave their workers in pre-pandemic times makes the working day that much longer but pringar, which can also mean to get dirty, is what really keeps employees in the (home) office until after the sun has set. 

office slang spainPhoto: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay

Finiquito – severance pay

The money you get from an employer who sacks you is usually referred to in Spanish with this colloquial term rather than with the more formal ‘indemnización’. There’s also the verb finiquitar, which means to pay severance pay or wrap up. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a literal translation for golden parachute or golden handshake; you might say instead the person got a lot of ‘pasta‘ (Spanish slang term for money). By the way, finiquito can also be used for the final payment you get when you’ve completed your contract.

Photo: FABIO MUZZI / AFP

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

This adjective is essential slang talk in Spain, a word with lots of meanings, all of them fairly negative.

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

Chungo is a colloquial way of saying that something is difficult, dodgy or bad. 

It can be used to describe a variety of scenarios and it’s a great way of talking like a native Spanish speaker. 

You can talk about the weather being chungo if there are ominous black clouds up ahead.

If you’re stepping into a dodgy neighbourhood, then watch out because it’s un barrio chungo

If you bought a hairdryer at the rastro (flea market) and it doesn’t work properly, then it’s clearly chungo, and the seller is just as chungo.

Maybe you’ve just sat an exam with complicated questions, you’d call it un examen chungo.

Or if you don’t feel very well, then you’re the one that is chungo

There’s even an expression to say that things aren’t looking good – la cosa está chunga.

All in all, chungo is a very versatile adjective that you can incorporate into most daily speech even though it’s colloquial. 

Here are some examples to help you get used to using chungo.

Example:

Está el tiempo un poco chungo, mejor no vamos a la playa.

The weather isn’t very good today, it’s best if we don’t go to the beach. 

Example:

¡Ojo! Es un tío bastante chungo así que no te fíes de él.

Be careful! He’s a pretty dodgy guy so don’t trust him. 

Example:

Le has comprado un perfume muy chungo a mamá por el Día de la Madre.

You’ve bought Mum a really crappy perfume for Mother’s Day.

Example:

El barrio de El Príncipe en Ceuta es muy chungo, ¡ten cuidado!

El Príncipe neighbourhood in Ceuta is very dodgy, be careful!

 

Example:

Me encuentro un poco chungo, con mareos y nauseas. 

I’m feeling a bit bad, I’m dizzy and nauseous. 

Example:

¿Dama de honor cuando el novio es tu ex? ¡Qué situación más chunga!

Maid of honour when the groom is your ex? ¡That’s an uncomfortable situation!

Example:

¡La cosa está chunga! El Barça tiene que marcar cinco goles para clasificarse.

Things aren’t looking good. Barça have to score five goals to qualify.

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