In short – ‘¡aguas!’ is an interjection commonly heard in both Mexico and Guatemala meaning ‘watch out’ or ‘be careful’. As is often the case with Mexican slang, ‘¡aguas!’ has a pretty interesting backstory.
The origin of ‘aguas’ goes all the way back to the Middle Ages in Spain.
Back then houses lacked running water and a sewage system … so instead of an operational toilet, people just used a pot.
Now, you´re probably wondering what used to happen to all that dirty water. I mean, did they just put up with the stench?
Well, people actually used to just throw the contents of their pots out the window, yelling ‘aguas’ or ‘agua va’ (which translates to something along the lines of ‘water coming’) to warn pedestrians of the impending deluge!!
Nowadays we have sophisticated sewage systems (thankfully!), but this expression is still used in Mexico as a warning, kinda like ‘watch out’ or ‘be careful’.
Anyway, you better watch out the next time someone screams ‘¡aguas!’ at you!
Uses / Meanings of ‘¡aguas!’ in Mexican Spanish
‘Aguas’ is an extremely popular (and user-friendly!) Mexican interjection.
I mean, you’ll hear it all the time, it’s not offensive (most people have forgotten about its stinky origins) and it´s very easy to use.
It´s used exclusively as a warning (unless you´re talking about actual water!) and normally translates to either ‘watch out’ or ‘be careful’.
Let´s have a look at some examples –
¡Aguas! Si no ves por dónde caminas, te puedes caer.
Watch out! If you don’t look where you’re going, you might fall.
Están tirando toda la basura, ¡aguas!
They’re throwing out all the trash, just a heads-up!
Te vas a resbalar, ¡aguas!
You’re going to slip, be careful!
¡Aguas! ¡Eso te va a pegar!
Watch out! That thing´s gonna hit you!
Just remember to adjust your tone of voice accordingly (you are trying to warn someone after all!).
Erika´s note – being a way to warn someone of impending danger, ‘aguas’ is normally written with exclamation marks.
‘Aguas’ is pretty easy to pronounce, so no need to get your knickers in a twist!
The ‘a’ is said like ‘ah’ and ‘guas’ like ‘gwuas’.
/ ah gwuas /
Other similar expressions
This one´s the Mexican Spanish equivalent of ‘keep a lookout’
For example –
Olvidé mi teléfono en la oficina del jefe, voy a sacarlo sin que me vea.
¡Échame aguas por si viene!
I left my phone in the boss’ office, I’m going to sneak it out without him seeing me.
Keep a lookout in case he comes!
Be careful with this one, (or should I say, ‘¡aguas with this one!’?), because it’s one of those tricky “false friends!”.
It obviously sounds like the English word ‘abused’ and, well, that IS one possible translation, but as an interjection it has a completely different meaning …
… when you hear someone saying ‘¡Abusado!’, they´re just saying ‘Watch out!’
Here´s a quick example –
¡Ahí viene un carro! ¡Abusado!
There´s a car coming! Watch out!
‘Ojo’ literally means ‘eye’, but it’s commonly used to mean ‘watch out!’ or ‘be careful’ (yep, just like ‘aguas’).
¡Ojo con tu dinero, te lo pueden robar!
Be careful with your money, someone might steal it!
¡Mucho ojo! Estos rumbos son peligrosos.
Be careful! It’s dangerous around here.
¡Ojo! Vi un tiburón aquí en la mañana.
Watch out! I saw a shark here this morning.
¡Échale un ojo!
Like ‘¡aguas!’, ‘¡ojo!’ is often used with the verb ‘echar’.
‘Échale un ojo’ or ‘échale ojo’ literally means ‘throw an eye to’ but is actually more akin to ‘to keep an eye on’ or ‘be careful with’.
For example –
Voy al baño, ¡échale un ojo al bebé, por fa!
I’m going to the restroom; keep an eye on the baby, please!
By the way, if you want to learn more useful phrases with ‘échale‘, be sure to check out our definitive article on the subject!
That´s all for today!
I hope you now feel confident enough to use ‘aguas’ with your Mexican friends the next time you spot danger on the horizon!
Oh, and if you wanna truly master Mexican slang, I suggest you head over to our article on the super common slang word ‘chale’.