In short – ‘equis’ is the letter ‘x’ in Spanish, but in Mexican slang it has an assortment of other meanings, such as ‘whatever’, ‘dull’ or ‘random’.
If you hang out with Mexicans, at some point or another you’re bound to hear phrases like ‘me da equis’ (which literally means ‘it gives me x’ in English), or ‘un tipo equis comentó mi foto’ (which would mean ‘an x guy commented on my pic’).
A quick dive into most of your trusted Spanish dictionaries will get you nowhere; there’s nothing that’ll make sense in the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, and online translation tools will be just as baffled.
But worry not as I’m going to break down this extremely popular Mexican expression for you right here and now!
Let’s get to it!
Uses / Meanings of ‘equis’ in Mexican Spanish
‘Equis’ can be used in the following ways –
- As an expression akin to ‘whatever’ or ‘I don’t care’
- As a synonym of ‘anyone’ or ‘whoever’
- As a synonym of ‘dull’, ‘uninteresting’, ‘ordinary’ and the likes
- As an interjection, akin to ‘Chill!’
As an expression akin to ‘whatever’ or ‘I don’t care’
The expression ‘equis’ was popularized by teenagers and young adults in the 90s.
Just as in the United States, media across Mexico used to refer to this generation as apathetic, detached, and other similar attitudes that seemed to be echoed or amplified by their use of ‘equis’, an expression that just screams apathy / detachment.
Alejandra – ¡Wey, me enteré de que te sacaron del salón!
Toño – Equis, wey. ¿Vamos por unas chelas?
Alejandra – Dude, I heard you got kicked out of class!
Toño – Whatever, dude. Wanna go grab a beer?
Nowadays ‘equis’ remains current, although it’s lost much of its original edge as most people, regardless of their age, use it in everyday speech –
José Manuel – ¿Pudiste sacar tu cita para la renovación de tu pasaporte?
Irma – ¡Ya decía yo que algo se me olvidaba! Ay, ya, equis, la saco mañana.
José Manuel – Were you able to schedule an appointment to renew your passport?
Irma – I knew I was forgetting something! Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow.
Dos compañeros de departamento
Eric – ¿Te molestaría si invito a los vecinos a la fiesta?
Diego – Me da equis, la verdad. Es tu cumpleaños, invita a quien quieras.
Eric – Would it be okay if I invite the neighbors to the party?
Diego – I don’t mind, honestly. It’s your birthday, invite whoever you want.
As a synonym of ‘anyone’ or ‘whoever’
‘Equis’ is also used to describe a random person about whom the speaker knows very little / nothing at all.
Pedro – Hay una chica vendiendo crepas afuera de la escuela.
Héctor – ¿Está guapa?
Pedro – Es una chica equis.
Pedro – There’s a girl selling crepes outside the school.
Hector – Is she hot?
Pedro – She’s just a regular girl.
En una estación del metro
Carlos – ¡Me robaron la cartera!
Selene – ¿Viste quién fue? ¿Cómo era?
Carlos – Era un vato* equis de gorra y tenis…Pudo ser cualquiera.
At a subway station
Carlos – They stole my wallet!
Selene – Did you see who it was? What did they look like?
Carlos – It was some dude wearing a cap and sneakers … it could have been anyone.
*Erika’s note – ‘vato’ is just another way of saying ‘dude’ in Mexican slang.
As a synonym of ‘dull’, ‘uninteresting’, ‘ordinary’ and the likes
‘Equis’ is also used to describe anything that simply does not deserve your attention, appreciation, or time.
Sound condescending? Yeah, that’s precisely the vibe.
Irving – ¿Te gusta Fabio?
Andy – No, se me hace muy equis.
Irving – Do you like Fabio?
Andy – Nah, he’s very average.
Madre – ¿Qué tal estuvo la excursión al museo?
Hija – Estuvo equis.
Madre – ¿En serio no te gustó nada?
Hija – Pues no. Todo mundo estaba aburrido.
Mother – How was the trip to the museum?
Daughter – It was lame.
Mother – You really didn’t like it at all?
Daughter – Nope. Everyone was bored.
As an interjection, akin to ‘Chill!’
Finally, ‘equis’ is also used to downplay a situation / issue that’s ruffling the feathers of the person you’re speaking to, much in the way we’d say ‘Chill!’ or ‘Relax!’ in English.
Sergio – ¡No manches! ¡Alguien le dio un rayón al coche!
Mirna – ¡Equis! Se le quita con una pulida.
Sergio – Damn it! Somebody scratched the car!
Mirna – Relax! It can be removed with car wax.
This one’s pretty easy to pronounce.
Just say the ‘e’ like ‘eh’ (as in the first syllable in ‘elephant’) and the ‘quis’ like ‘kees’ (think the word ‘keys’).
/ eh – kees /
Similar expressions to ‘equis’
Equis o ye
Why stop at ‘x’ when you can add a ‘y’?
Anyways, ‘equis o ye’ is akin to saying ‘this or that’ or ‘whatever’ –
Me dio equis o ye argumento para justificarse pero no le creí nada.
He gave me whatever argument to defend himself, but I didn’t believe him.
In Mexico this is an extremely common way to say ‘some reason’ or ‘whatever reason’.
Por equis razón, que no recuerdo, salimos de ese bar y nos fuimos a otro.
I don’t remember why, but for some reason we left that bar and went to another.
When used as an interjection, it’s very common to add ‘ay’ before ‘equis’.
Se me olvidó el traje de baño…¡Ay, equis! Ahorita me compro uno.
I forgot my bathing suit … Oh well! I’ll buy another one.
Hopefully you’re now more than ready to throw in an ‘equis’ the next you feel a bit snarky while talking to your Mexican buddies. Trust me, they’ll appreciate your grasp of Mexican slang!
Wanna learn another cool Mexican expression? Well, our pretty darn epic article on the meaning of ‘cabrón’ is hot off the press!