The most used words and phrases in Peru.
‘Pe’: this conjunction is actually the contraction of pues, meaning “well” or “then”. “Vente a mi casa, pe” (“Come to my house, then”) would be one example. It used to be used exclusively in the north, but today it is used all over Peru. Even abroad, they know that it is one of the favorite expressions of Peruvians.
But pe is not the only expression that initiates or finishes off Peru’s sentences. For example, in places such as La Libertad, Piura and Lambayeque, they use di at the end of sentences. In Piura and Tumbes, they even use gua: “Gua, paisano, se ha enfermado mi mula” (“Well, my friend, my mule has fallen sick”).
‘Oe’: is the contraction of oye (“hey!”) and is used to get someone’s attention, but on a colloquial level. “Oe, trabaja pe” (“Hey, get to work then”) is quite a common combination.
‘Causa’: in Peru, this word is not only used to refer to the traditional potato-based dish. Causa is commonly used to refer to a friend. “Habla pe, causa” (“What’s up, man”) is a very common form of greeting, especially among people who know each other. And it has a range of synonyms: mano, chochera, choche and batería. The first three also have their respective affectionate diminutives: manito, chocherita, causita.
‘Churre’: in Piura and Tumbes refers to a child. “Ese churre es bien inteligente” (“that kid’s really smart”) they say in those parts.
‘Modéeeerate’: is the northern way of saying “behave yourself or calm down,” like this, with the prolonged ‘e’: “Oye, churre, estás diciendo sandeces, modéeeerate” (“Hey, kid, you’re talking nonsense, calm down”).
‘Pelar las muelas’: this old expression is used to refer to the action of laughing. “Oe, causa, ya deja de pelar las muelas, pe” (“Hey man, stop joking around”) would be one use.
‘Bacán’: is an adjective used for anything that is pleasant or positive. “El mural quedó bien bacán” (“The mural turned out really cool”). It has its equivalent in the word Chévere, which has some variations like Cheverengue or Chevrolet. “¿Cómo te sientes, batería?” (“How are you feeling, man?”). Chevrolet (“Great”).
‘¿Manyas?’: an expression used to ask if the other person understands what you are talking about. “Tienes que ajustar bien los pernos así, ¿manyas?” (“You’ve got to tighten the bolts like this, you see?”). Used in the affirmative form, it takes on the same meaning. “La verdad no manyo a ninguna de las personas de esta fiesta” (“I don’t really vibe with any of the people at this party”).
‘Clarinete’: it is a wind instrument (clarinet), yes. But on the central coast of Peru, the expression is also used as a variant of the term claro (“of course”). “¿Tienes dinero suficiente?” (“Do you have enough money?”) Clarinete or clarines would be appropriate answers.
‘Latear’: popularly refers to the action of walking. “Vamos a latear por ahí” (“Let’s take a stroll over there”) is an expression often used by young people.
‘Jatear’: is the action of sleeping. “Es muy tarde, ya me voy a jatear” (“It’s very late, I’m going to go and sleep”) is used to let people know you’re going to retire for the night. It has variations like “Me quedé jato” (“I just passed out”) or “Está jatazo” (“He’s gone”). Jato also means house or home: “Se quedó a dormir en mi jato” (“He slept over at my house”).
‘Por las puras’: this expression of discouragement is equivalent to saying “in vain”. For example: “Subimos la colina por las puras, no divisamos ni una sola alpaca” (“We climbed the hill in vain, we didn’t spot a single alpaca”). In the old days, they also used to say por las wiflas, which had the same meaning.
‘Palta’: this does not refer to the fruit, also known as avocado throughout the world. It is a term that, depending on its context, means shame or fear. “Qué palta tener que cantar frente a todos” (“How embarrassing having to sing in front of everyone”), in this sense being used to denote shyness. “No te paltees por el temblor”, referring to not being afraid.
‘Pasar piola’: on the Peruvian coast this expression means “to pass unnoticed” or “to get out of a problem or difficult situation unharmed”. “La maestra me buscó por todo el colegio, pero yo me metí al baño y logré pasar piola” (“The teacher looked for me all over the school, but I hid in the bathroom and managed to go unnoticed”) or “Felizmente mi familia y yo pasamos piola esta pandemia” (“Thankfully my family and I got through this pandemic unharmed”).