If you visit Mexico, you’re sure to hear colloquialisms using or derived from the word ‘madre’ (or ‘mother’ in English) at some point or another.
As in many other countries, mothers in Mexico are sacred figures … so insulting someone´s mother is deemed an insult of the highest order!
But what sets Mexico apart (asides from the sheer number of phrases that contain the word ‘madre’!) is the fact that seemingly similar phrases often have completely different meanings, such as ‘poca madre’ (which often means ‘awesome’) and ‘qué poca madre’ (which is like ‘that sucks!’).
Anyway, it can be really tricky to navigate all the mother–related expressions … which is pretty much why I put this guide to ‘madre’ in Mexican slang together!
Let’s dive into it!
‘Madre’ can be used in the following ways –
- In a literal sense, as ‘mother’ (Admiro mucho a mi madre = I admire my mother so much)
- As foul language with positive associations (¡Eres a toda madre! = You’re awesome!)
- As foul language with negative associations (Chinga a tu madre = F*** you)
- As foul language with neutral or ambivalent associations
There are also a lot of made-up words derived from ‘madre’, such as ‘madriza’, which is a ‘beating’, or a ‘madrola’, which is a ‘thing’.
First, let’s explore the various phrases using ‘madre’ with positive associations
Me cae de madre – I really like him / her
Let’s say you introduce two of your friends. If you ask one in private what she thinks of the other, she might respond with an enthusiastic, “¡Me cae de madre!”.
It basically just means “She´s (or he´s!) super cool, I really like her!”.
¡Tu amiga me cae de madre!
I really like your friend!
¡Chingue su madre! – F*** it!
‘Chingar’ is a very controversial word (continually debated by linguists) that basically means ‘to f***’, but also sometimes translates as ‘to bother’ / ‘to pester’.
‘Chingue su madre’ may sound like an awful thing to say (and it kinda is!), but when used as an interjection (and depending on intonation), it can mean something along the lines of ‘let’s do it!’ or ‘go for it!’.
It’s usually then followed by a reckless and/or courageous decision.
¡Chingue su madre, me voy a comprar el boleto de avión!
F*** it, I’m gonna buy that plane ticket!
A toda madre – Awesome
This one basically means ‘awesome’, and it can be used to describe either a person or a thing.
¡Eres a toda madre, wey!
You’re awesome, bro!
Wanna know more about ‘a toda madre’?
We actually dedicated a whole article to its meaning and use, so be sure to check it out!
De poca madre – Awesome
If ‘a toda madre’ translates literally as ‘to full mother’ and ‘de poca madre’ as ‘of little mother’, you´d think that logically it means the opposite, right?
It doesn’t. It means ‘awesome’ as well.
Look, I didn’t make the rules!
¡Ese coche está de poca madre!
That’s a sweet ride!
Now let’s look at the dark side of ‘madre’
Ni madres – No f****** way
This one literally translates to ‘no mothers’, but it actually just means ‘no f****** way’.
¿Ese policía quiere un soborno? ¡Ni madres! No lo tendrá.
That cop wants a bribe? No f****** way! He won’t get it.
Partirse la madre – To f*** yourself up / To hurt yourself badly
If you hurt yourself badly, then you ‘break your mother’ or ‘te partes la madre’.
If you punch someone in the face, you ‘break their mother’ or ‘le partes la madre’.
Either way, it’s painful.
Federico le partió su madre a Andrés.
Federico beat the hell out of Andrés.
Darse en la madre – To hurt yourself badly
This is a variation of ‘partirse la madre’ –
¡Mi di en la madre!
I really hurt myself!
And just like its first cousin it can also refer to people fighting –
Los chicos se están dando en la madre.
The boys are punching each other.
Hasta la/su madre – Fed up / Crowded
If someone is ‘hasta la madre’ (or ‘up to their mother’) it means they’re ‘f****** fed up’.
But if someone says a place is ‘hasta su madre’, they mean it’s ‘too freaking crowded’.
Estoy hasta la madre del tráfico de esta ciudad.
I’m f****** fed up with the traffic in this city.
Chinga a tu madre – F*** you
The worst insult that you could possibly utter in Mexico is definitely ‘chinga a tu madre’ … and, yeah, it translates to ‘f*** your mother’.
Tread very carefully with this one!
¡Me traicionaste! ¡Chinga a tu madre!
You betrayed me! F*** you!
Vas y chingas a tu madre – F*** you
Is ‘chinga a tu madre’ not enough? (I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, but ok!).
Well, there’s an even more emphatic ‘vas y chingas a tu madre’, meaning ‘go and f*** your mother’.
Again, keep in mind these are the MOST OFFENSIVE insults in Mexican culture.
Me cagan tus padres.
¿Ah, sí? ¡Vas y chingas a tu madre!
I hate your parents.
Oh, really? Go f*** yourself!
Mentada de madre – Cuss (using ‘madre’)
‘Mentar’ means ‘to mention’ in English.
A ‘mentada de madre’ is when you swear at someone using (or mentioning!) the word ‘madre’.
So, when someone says ‘chinga a tu madre’, it´s a ‘mentada de madre’.
Emilio le mentó la madre a Fabio.
Emilio swore at Fabio. (OR Emilio told Fabio to go f*** himself)
It can also refer to something unpleasant –
La fila en el banco era una mentada de madre.
The line for the bank was a pain in the ass.
Mentar madres – To cuss / To swear
Following the above logic, ‘mentar madres’ means something along the lines of ‘to swear’ or ‘to curse’.
Deja de mentar madres y ponte a trabajar.
Stop cursing under your breath and get to work.
Ya chingó a su madre – It´s f***** / We´re screwed / etc.
This means ‘it’s f*****’, ‘we’re doomed’, ‘it’s ruined’ and the likes.
¡Nos metieron gol! ¡Ya chingó a su madre!
They scored a goal against us! We’re screwed!
Ya valió madres – It´s f*****
‘It’s worth mothers’ is a synonym of ‘ya chingó a su madre’.
As you´ve probably surmised, both are appropriate for the most hopeless of situations.
Mi mamá se enteró que le mentí. Ya valí madres.
My mom found out I lied to her. I’m so screwed.
Me vale madres – I don´t give a sh**
This one´s the Mexican Spanish equivalent of ‘I don’t give a sh**’ or ‘I give zero f****’!
A Pepe le vale madres la vida.
Pepe gives zero f**** about his life.
Me caga la madre – I f****** hate
Yeah, this one literally translates to ‘it poops on my mother’.
It´s used to describe people, places, and situations that you REALLY don´t like!
Tu hermano me caga la madre.
I can’t stand your brother.
Me caga la madre ir al doctor.
I f****** hate going to the doctor.
No tener madre – To not have scruples / To be an as*****
This one´s used to describe someone who has no sense of what is morally wrong, basically a dreadful person.
¿Me pusiste el cuerno? ¡No tienes madre!
Did you cheat on me? You bas****!
¡Chingada madre! – F***! / Damn!
‘Chingada madre’ is a bit like the word ‘f***’ when used as a more vulgar version of ‘damn’.
¡Chingada madre! ¡Me corté con el cuchillo!
F***! I cut myself with the kitchen knife!
Qué poca madre – That´s so sh**
When accompanied by ‘qué’ or ‘what’, ‘poca madre’ becomes a cuss word.
It normally translates to something along the lines of ‘that´s so f***** up’ or ‘that´s so s***’.
Juan – ¿Te dejó plantado?
Isis – ¡Sí!
Juan – ¡Qué poca madre!
Juan – Did he stand you up?
Isis – Yeah.
Juan – That´s so s***!
It can also be used in a similar way to ‘no tienes madre’ –
¡Qué poca madre tiene el que me robó mi celular!
They guy who stole my cellphone is a f****** asshole!
Tu puta madre – Your wh*** of a mother
‘Your wh*** of a mother’ is another very hurtful insult (obviously!).
¡Puta madre! – F***! / Damn!
As an interjection, this one´s also similar to ‘f***’ when used as a synonym of ‘damn’.
¡Puta madre! Me quedé sin chamba …
F***! I just got fired …
Madre y media – Worthless
Something worth ‘a mother and a half’ has little or no worth at all.
Javier dijo madre y media en la junta.
Javier just babbled on during the meeting.
Valer pa’ pura madre – To be worthless / hopeless
Yeah, this one also means worthless / hopeless.
¿Chocaste otra vez? Vales pa’ pura madre.
You crashed the car again? You’re freaking hopeless.
Dejar de chingar la madre – To stop pestering
If someone asks you to ‘stop f****** the mother’, they’re telling you to ‘leave them the hell alone’.
Deja de chingar la madre, Daniel; estoy estudiando.
Stop pestering me, Daniel; I’m studying.
Then there are some interjections that aren’t actually insults and can be rather ambivalent or even neutral
¡Hijo(a) de tu madre! – F***! / Oh, sh**! / Son of a bit**!
If your Mexican friend were to shout out ‘hijo de tu madre’ (‘son/daughter of your mother!’), you´d probably be left wondering whether or not it´s something bad …
… after all, we ARE our mother’s children!
The answer is that it can mean anything from ‘f***!’, ‘get out of here!’ or ‘oh, sh**!’ to ‘son of a bit**!’ depending on intonation.
¡Hija de tu madre! ¡Ganaste el concurso de canto!
Oh, sh**! You won the singing contest!
¡Pa’ su madre! – Holy sh**!
This one´s a bit like saying ‘holy sh**!’.
You may also hear the euphemism ‘pa’ su mecha’.
Qué calor hace … ¡Pa’ su madre!
It’s so hot in here … Jesus!
¡En la madre! / ¡A la madre! – Sh**! / Damn!
Both ‘en la madre’ and ‘a la madre’ are super useful interjections if you´re looking to express shock, surprise, or annoyance.
¡En la madre! ¡Se me olvidó pagar la renta!
Damn, I forgot to pay the rent!
¡Mi madre! – F***! / Damn!
Add a personal touch by crying out ‘mi madre’ or ‘my mother!’.
Yep, it´s also used to express surprise.
¡Mi madre! ¡Me espantaste!
F***! You scared me!
¡Madres! – Damn!
Or you can just holler a simple ‘madres!’ instead.
¡Madres! ¡Reprobé el examen!
Damn! I failed the exam!
Esta madre – This thing
Use ‘esta madre’ (or ‘this mother’) to describe a “thing”.
Yes, just a thing … literally any THING.
¡Esta madre está pesada!
This thing is heavy!
Una madrecita – A small thing
Is the “thing” small?
Then you can call it a ‘madrecita’.
This one doesn’t have a negative connotation … it literally just means that the “thing” in question is very small in size!
Alguien busca un arete
Es una madrecita* azul …
Somebody’s looking for an earring
What does it look like?
It’s a tiny blue thing …
*Erika’s note – it’s important not to confuse this word with ‘mamacita’, which is another variation of ‘madre’ with VERY different meanings.
We actually devoted a whole article to the various uses of ‘mamacita’ if you wanna know more.
¿Te cae de madre? – Are you for real?
This one´s just a fun way of saying ‘are you for real?’.
¿Los viste besándose? ¿Te cae de madre?
You saw them kissing? Are you serious?
Finally, we have made-up words using ‘madre’
Madrear – To beat the sh** out of
‘Madrear’ is ‘to beat the sh** out of’ someone or something.
Me voy a madrear a ese vato.
I’m gonna beat the hell out of that guy.
Madriza – Beating
A ‘madriza’ is a ‘beating’ –
¡Me dio una madriza!
He gave me a beating!
You can use it to describe something particularly arduous too –
Me metí una madriza en el gym.
I worked my ass off at the gym.
Madreado (a) – Beaten (the hell out of) / Tired / Sick / Etc.
The result of a ‘madriza’ is one or more people ‘madreados’, or ‘beaten the hell out of’.
It can also mean ‘tired’, ‘sick’, ‘fed up’, ‘faint’, ‘dizzy’ – just generally feeling off.
Vengo madreado del trabajo.
Work’s been super tiring.
Madrazo – Punch / Blow
This is a ‘punch’, a ‘blow’ or a ‘hit’.
Valemadrista – Person who doesn´t give a sh**
A ‘valemadrista’ is a person who just doesn’t give a damn.
¡Nunca lavas los trastes, eres un valemadrista!
You never wash the dishes, you just don’t give a f***!
Madrola – Thing
Remember ‘esta madre’ and ‘madrecita’?
Well, ‘madrola’ also refers to ‘a thing’.
Pásame esa madrola, por favor.
¿El martillo? Aquí tienes.
Pass me that thing, please.
The hammer? Here you go.
Desmadre – Mess
‘Un desmadre’ is a big ol’ mes –
¡Tu casa es un desmadre!
Your house is such a mess!
But it’s also a wild party or really fun conversation –
¡La fiesta de Ana fue un desmadre!
Ana’s party was wild!
Chingamadral – Sh** load
This is slang for an abundance of something.
¡Tengo un chingamadral de tarea!
I have a sh** load of homework to do!
Phew! That was quite the list, huh?
Remember that with great power comes great responsibility and several of these expressions are really hurtful and may bring you more trouble than joy, so do err on the side of caution when using them!
There’s an interesting phrase that I left out of this guide because it doesn’t really include the word ‘madre’ but instead implies it.
If you feel curious, I suggest you head on over to our article on ‘qué poca’.
¡Hasta la próxima!