Pedo: The Most Eclectic Word in the Spanish Language?

The word “pedo” is the chameleon of the Spanish language, a term that seems to have taken on a life of its own in the Spanish-speaking world.

First born as a vulgar synonym for “flatulence”, “pedo has become a true linguistic shapeshifter, donning various meanings and nuances depending on the country and context.

And, for some reason, Latin American people seem to be joyously obsessed with finding new meanings for this little world even today.

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That is why, today, we will embark on a journey through Argentina and Mexico to explore the eclectic uses of this seemingly innocent yet remarkably versatile term.


Estar en pedo

If someone tells you they’re “en pedo” in Argentina (or Uruguay), it means they’re drunk. As you can imagine, this phrase is commonly heard at parties and celebrations. In fact, it can be used as a resolution: “Esta noche nos ponemos en pedo” (ponerse = get, become: “Tonight we’re gonna get drunk”.

However, “estar en pedo” has a second meaning, especially when you say it in the second person (“Estás en pedo”). In this case, it means something like “you’re delusional” or “no way”. For example:

“¿Salimos esta noche?” b
“¡Estás en pedo! ¿Con el frío que hace?”


“Wanna go out tonight?”
“No way, it’s freezing outside!”

Estar al pedo

Yes, sometimes, one preposition can change everything. If you are “al pedo” (not ‘en’), it just means you have a lot of free time and feeling particularly lazy. Naturally, this means you can use this phrase to attack people who seem allergic to work and responsibilities:

“Ya que estás tan al pedo, ¿por qué no me ayudás a limpiar?”


“Since you’re so idle, why don’t you help me clean?”

Easy, right? But not so fast. “Estar al pedo” has a second meaning”. If something (rather than someone) is “al pedo”, it means it’s useless or serves no real purpose. For example:

“Para qué es ese botón?”
“No sé, creo que está al pedo”.
“What’s this button for?”
“I don’t know, I think it’s useless.”

Cagar a pedos

This is a colorful Argentine expression idiomatically used to mean scolding or reprimanding someone. So, if someone says they got “cagado a pedos,” it means they were scolded or given a hard time, especially by a parent, teacher, or someone in an authority role:

“Terminemos la tarea o mamá nos va a cagar a pedos”.
“Let’s finish our homework or mom we’ll be pissed.”


Estar o andar pedo

If you hear someone saying they’re “estar o andar pedo” in Mexico, it means they’re drunk. Mexicans have a knack for infusing humor into expressions, and this one playfully captures the state of inebriation.

Oh, and in case you’re experiencing a sense of deja vu, yes, Argentine people use a similar expression with the same meaning. In Mexico, however, it’s not “estar en pedo”, but “estar pedo”.

“Ya estás pedo, mejor te llevo a casa”.
“You’re drunk already, let me take you home”.

¿Cuál es tu pedo?

In Mexico, “¿Cuál es tu pedo?” is more than just asking about a bodily function. It’s an informal way of inquiring, “What’s your problem?” or “What’s bothering you?” It’s often used among friends to check in on each other’s well-being or to address a noticeable change in someone’s mood:

“No has dicho una palabra en todo el día, ¿cuál es tu pedo?”
“You haven’t said a word all day, what’s wrong with you?”

¿Qué pedo?

As you stroll through the streets of Mexico, don’t be surprised if someone greets you with a casual “¿Qué pedo?” It’s a colloquial and friendly way of saying, “What’s up, buddy?” This informal greeting is laced with camaraderie, making it a common sight in conversations among pals.

“¿Qué pedo, carnal?” (Carnal = dude, buddy, friend)

Additionally, this phrase can be used if you’ve just seen or heard something you find surprising or unbelievable.

“Qué pedo, ¿qué se ha hecho en la cara?”
“My God, what has she done to her face?”

Hay que estar al pedo

In Mexico, “Hay que estar al pedo” takes a turn from its Argentine counterpart. Instead of signaling idleness, it’s a call to be alert or vigilant. If someone tells you this, they’re advising you to stay sharp and pay attention to your surroundings. It’s a reminder to stay on your toes and be aware of what’s going on.

“No confío en la nueva pasante. Hay que estar al pedo”.
“I don’t trust the new intern. We need to stay on our toes.”

Estar en una peda

When Mexicans say they’re “en una peda,” (a feminine version of the word ‘pedo’) it means they’re at a party where alcohol is flowing freely, and the good times are rolling.

“¿Organizamos una buena peda para esta noche?”
“Wanna throw a big party tonight?”

Learn Colloquial Spanish Now

In this blog, we’ve unraveled the eclectic meanings of “pedo” across Argentina and Mexico. It’s a linguistic journey filled with humor, culture, and the unique flavors of expression from different corners of the Spanish-speaking world.

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