‘Híjole’ – Meaning / In English

In short – ‘Híjole’ is an extremely common Mexican interjection similar to ‘jeez’ or ‘darn’. It’s truly an integral part of everyday speech, so you’ll definitely hear it at some point or another if in Mexico!

‘Híjole’ is part of a series of colloquial expressions that end with the suffix ‘le’, such as ‘ándale’, ‘órale’ and ‘quiúbole’.

It´s thought to be derived from the words ‘hijo’ (‘son’) and ‘órale’ (which normally translates to ‘ok’ or ‘wow’).

Nowadays this whimsical word isn´t just used in Mexico, but also in other Central America countries such as Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Guatemala.

Ready to find out exactly how to use ‘híjole’?

Let’s get into it!



Uses / Meanings of ‘híjole

Híjole’ can be used in the following ways –

  • To express shock or surprise

  • To express doubt, confusion or forgetfulness

  • To express frustration

  • When someone is reluctant to say ‘no’


To express shock or surprise

This is probably the most common use of ‘híjole’.

Just think of it as a way of expressing surprise or amazement, a bit like the English expressions ‘wow’, ‘oh my god’, or ‘jeez’.

It can also be used in situations in which you’d use ‘damn’ in English.

Mamá, choqué el auto.

¡Híjole! ¿Estás bien? ¿Te pasó algo?



Mom, I crashed the car.

Oh my god! Are you ok? Were you hurt?


¡Híjole! ¡Se fue la luz otra vez!

Jeez! Not another power cut!



¡Híjole! ¡Me pegué bien feo en el dedo meñique!

Damn it! I hit my little finger pretty bad!

To express doubt, confusion or forgetfulness

You can also use ‘híjole’ when you just can’t for the life of you remember the answer to a question or when you’ve forgotten something.

En la escuela

Irene – ¿Sabes cómo puedo resolver esta ecuación?

Valeria – Híjole…El profe lo explicó la semana pasada, pero no le entendí.



At school

Irene – Do you know how I can solve this equation?

Valeria – Oh, jeez … The teacher explained it last week, but I didn’t understand.


¡Híjole! ¡Dejé prendida la estufa! Tengo que ir a la casa enseguida.

Damn! I left the stove on! I need to go home now.

To express frustration

‘Híjole’ is the perfect word for when things just aren´t going your way!

En la autopista

Mario – ¡Se nos ponchó la llanta!

Apolo – ¡Híjole! Ya no llegamos a la boda …



In the highway

Mario – We’ve got a flat tire!

Apolo – Damn! We’re not gonna make it to the wedding …

When someone is reluctant to say ‘no

It’s very common to hear people let out an anxious ‘híjole’ when they don’t want to give a straightforward answer, especially if they’re letting someone down.

Cassandra – Amiga, va a haber una fiesta increíble en casa de Pablo, ¡vamos!

Liliana – Híjole…Qué chévere*, solo que…Pablo no me cae bien.



Cassandra – Girl, there’s going to be an amazing party at Pablo’s place, let’s go!

Liliana – Gosh … Sounds cool, but … I don’t like Pablo.

*Erika’s note – ‘chévere’ is another super fun Spanish slang word.

If you wanna know more, I suggest you head on over to our article on all the different ways to say awesome’ in Spanish.

It’ll be worth the trip!



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"



´Híjole´ pronunciation

It may seem a little tricky at first, but ‘híjole isn´t actually all that hard to pronounce!

Let’s break it down into three syllables:

  • The ‘h’ in the first syllable is silent, and the ‘i’ is said like ‘ee’ (as in ‘bee’)

  • ‘Jo’ is pronounced like ‘hoh’

  • And ‘le’ sounds like ‘leh’

/ ee – hoh – leh /


Is ‘híjole’ a bad word?

‘Híjole’ is a colloquial interjection, but it’s definitely not a swear word!

Just keep in mind that it’s not used in every Spanish-speaking country, and that it’s mostly used in informal situations.


Similar expressions to ‘híjole

Jíjole

If you’re in Mexico, chances are you’re gonna hear this variation of ‘híjole’ at some point or another.

It means the exact same thing as it’s not-so-distant cousin, the only difference being that the silent ‘h’ is replaced with a ‘j’ (that sounds like a non silent ‘h’ in English).

¡Jíjole! ¡Ya es bien tarde y todavía no me baño!

Oh, man! It’s really late and I haven’t even showered yet!

Híjoles

You may also come across it written and pronounced with an ‘s’ at the end.

Disculpe, ¿sabe cómo llegar a Av. Revolución?

Híjoles…No le sabría decir, discúlpeme.



Excuse me, do you know how to get to Revolución Avenue?

Jeepers … I wouldn’t know, sorry.

Ah jijo

This phrase is derived from ‘ah, hijo’ (or ‘oh, son’ in English), and it’s another popular interjection in Mexico.

¡Ah, jijo! ¿Cerré con llave la casa o la habré dejado abierta?

Oh Gosh! Did I lock the house or did I leave it open?


Final thoughts

¡Híjole! That was a thorough explanation of the meanings of this super popular expression!

I hope you find it very useful and that you give ‘híjole’ a go next time you’re hanging out with your Mexican or Central American friends.

Oh, and if you wanna get your teeth into another cool Mexican expression, mosey on down to our article on al chile.

¡Hasta luego!

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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