‘Desmadre’ – Meaning / in English

In short – ‘desmadre’ is a Mexican slang word used to refer to any type of ‘disorder’, ‘mess’ or ‘chaos’. If you’re planning on spending any amount of time in Mexico, get ready to hear it A LOT!

But where (on earth!) does it come from?

Well, desmadre was originally used to refer to the act of separating calves from their mothers (hence “des + madre”), but as with many expressions in Mexican slang it now has a variety of VERY different meanings!

And although most of its connotations are negative, not all of them are!

Anyway, let’s find out all there is to know about the word ‘desmadre’!

Uses / Meanings of ‘desmadre

Desmadre’ can be used in the following ways –

  • As a synonym of ‘mess’

  • As a synonym of ‘chaos’

  • To describe a ‘riot’

  • As a synonym of ‘wreck’ or ‘break

  • To describe a “wild party” or simply having lots of fun

As a synonym of ‘mess

Desmadre’ refers to a ‘mess’ in all its various forms and guises!

Anything and everything confusing and out of order can be a ‘desmadre’.

Mi cabeza es un desmadre. No sé qué hacer.

My mind’s a mess. I don’t know what to do.

Un padre regañando a sus hijos

¡Tienen sus cuartos hechos un desmadre! Hoy no salen a ninguna parte hasta que ordenen sus cosas.

A father scolding his children

Your bedrooms are a complete mess! You’re not going anywhere today until you tidy up.

As a synonym of ‘chaos

Can you picture all hell breaking loose?

Well, that’s most definitely a ‘desmadre’!

El guitarrista bajó del escenario y se hizo un desmadre entre la multitud.

The guitarist came down from the stage and chaos ensued amongst the crowd.

Romina – ¿Te propuso matrimonio? ¿Qué le contestaste?

Sam – Que no podía pensar en eso aún. ¡Mi vida es un desmadre ahorita!

Romina – Did he propose to you? What did you say?

Sam – That I couldn’t think about that yet. My life is too chaotic right now!

To describe a ‘riot

‘Desmadre’ is also used to describe any form of public disturbance!

Se armó un desmadre entre los manifestantes y la policía. Varios resultaron heridos.

A riot broke out between the protesters and the police. Several were injured.

Gustavo – ¿Vas a salir?

Rosa – Sí, ¿por qué?

Gustavo – No vayas a tomar Periférico; en las noticias dicen que hay un desmadre ocasionado por algún mítin político.

Gustavo – Are you going out?

Rosa – Yes, why?

Gustavo – Don’t take the Periférico beltway; they said in the news that there’s a riot caused by some political rally.

As a synonym of ‘wreck’ or ‘break

If you break something, either on purpose or by accident, you can also use the word ‘desmadre’.

¡Mi hermana chocó y dejó el coche hecho un desmadre!

My sister crashed and wrecked the car!

It can also be used as a verb –

¿Ya desmadraste tu celular otra vez? ¡Acababas de comprar uno nuevo!

Did you break your cell phone again? You just bought a new one!

To describe a “wild party” or simply having lots of fun

A ‘desmadre’ isn’t necessarily something bad.

It can also refer to an awesome party or a super fun time you had with someone!

A mi hermano nomás le gusta el desmadre.

My brother just likes to party.

Nico – ¿Cómo te fue en la fiesta?

Rita – ¡Fue un desmadre, wey! Me la pasé a toda madre.

Nico – How did the party go?

Rita – It was wild, man! I had a blast.

By the way, if you wanna top up on your Mexican slang, you NEED to check out our “Master Guide” … it’s everything you need to know all in one place 👇🌵🇲🇽

Erika pointing to the word "Mexican Slang Master Guide"

Desmadre‘ pronunciation

Let’s break ‘desmadre’ down into three syllables:

  • ‘Des’ is said like ‘dehs’

  • ‘Ma’ sounds like ‘mah’

  • And ‘dre’ is said like ‘dreh’

/ dehs-mah-dreh /

Puro desmadre’ meaning

Basically ‘puro desmadre’ is taking ‘desmadre’ (in all its many forms and guises!) to the next level!

Did you make a ‘mess’? Well, now you made a ‘real mess’! Were you at a ‘wild party’? Well, now you’re at the ‘wildest party’ you’ve ever been to!

Los organizadores del evento nomás tenían puro desmadre.

The organizers of the event had a complete disaster.

¡Mi mejor amiga es puro desmadre!

My best friend is totally wild!

Is ‘desmadre’ a bad word?

Even though ‘desmadre’ isn’t considered rude per se, it’s definitely informal … so I recommend you keep it out of the workplace, etc.!

‘Desastre’ or ‘relajo’ are usually good alternatives when referring to the negative connotations of ‘desmadre’. If you wanna make a point of how wild a party was you can also use the expressions ‘fiestota’ or ‘fiestón loco’, which are still informal but sound a bit less vulgar.

Similar expressions to ‘desmadre

A toda madre o un desmadre

This expression was popularized by the 1993 movie “Blood in Blood out: Bound by Honor” which follows the lives of three Chicanos.

It´s a bit like saying ‘go big or go home’.

Dialogue from “Blood in Blood out”

A toda madre o un desmadre.


Even though this is the diminutive form of ‘desmadre’, it doesn’t necessarily refer to a ‘little mess’ or ‘small party’.

Quite the opposite in fact … it’s basically an ironic way to describe a big ol’ mess!

¿Le puedes bajar a tu desmadrito? ¡Parece que tuvieras una parranda en tu cuarto!

Can you turn it down a notch? It sounds like you’re having a rave in your bedroom!


This is another fun way to refer to a ‘wild party’!

¡Qué bueno estuvo el jolgorio! Ya me hacía falta ver a mis amigos.

That party was awesome! I really needed to see my friends.

Final thoughts

And that’s it, folks! I hope I haven’t made a ‘desmadre’ in your head and that you’ll give this expression a whirl the next time you’re with your Mexican pals!

Did you know that there are LOADS of colloquial expressions with the word ‘échale’ in Mexican slang? Head on over to our insane list of ALL the different phrases with échale‘ in Mexican slang if you’d like to know more!

¡Hasta la próxima!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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