If you say ‘mero’ in most Spanish-speaking countries, people will probably assume that you’re after fish, more specifically a ‘grouper’ (which is super yummy by the way!).
But in Mexico they definitely WON’T …
… and, well, that’s because Mexicans use the word ‘mero’ colloquially in a dazzling array of different phrases / expressions.
A little bit of background: the word ‘mero’ actually comes from the Latin ‘merus’ meaning ‘pure’ or ‘simple’ (yep, like the English word ‘mere’).
Ironically, things aren’t so “simple”when it comes to expressions with ‘mero’, with meanings ranging from ‘insignificant’ to ‘the very best’!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
The following are the main uses of ‘mero’ in Mexican Spanish –
1. Preceded by a subject pronoun, to describe “oneself”.
Yo mero fui a decirle la noticia. = I gave him the news myself.
2. As a synonym of ‘right’ (in the sense of ‘exactly’).
Lo veré hasta el mero día de la fiesta. = I’ll see him on the day of the party.
3. As a synonym of ‘right’ when talking about the location of something.
Mi casa está mero en el centro de la ciudad. = My house is right in the downtown area.
4. As a synonym of ‘almost’ and ‘nearly’.
¡Ya mero es Navidad! = It’s almost Christmas!
5. To describe someone or something VERY important.
¡Ese wey es el mero mero! = That guy is the boss!
6. To describe someone or something of little importance / relevance (i.e., ‘mere’.
¡Eso es un mero pretexto! = That’s just an excuse!
What part of speech is ‘mero’?
Well, it can actually be an adjective AND an adverb (uh-oh!).
‘Mero’ as an adjective
No soy más que un mero intermediario.
I’m nothing more than a mere intermediary.
‘Mero’ as an adverb
Ahí mero hicimos la fogata.
We made the bonfire right there.
Now let’s explore the various uses of this super useful Mexican word!
Used to describe “oneself”
1 Yo mero – Myself
If you wanna say ‘myself’ in Spanish, you’d say ‘yo mismo’ or ‘mí mismo’.
The same goes with the rest of the pronouns: ‘tú mismo’ (‘yourself’ ), ‘él mismo’ (‘himself’), ‘ella misma’ (‘herself’), ‘oneself’ (‘uno mismo’) and so on.
Of course, this IS also the case in Mexican Spanish, but you’ll definitely sound more native if you replace ‘mismo’ with ‘mero’!
Yo mero me aseguré de que todas las ventanas estuvieran cerradas.
I made sure all the windows were closed myself.
Gibrán – ¿Ella es la chica de la que me has platicado?
Sandra – ¡Ella mera!
Gibrán – Is she the girl you told me about?
Sandra – That’s her in the flesh!
2 Yo merolas – Myself
Any Mexican expression that ever was and ever will be is always gonna be warped into further variations, normally by replacing a word with a similar word that sounds funny, rhymes, or simply rolls off the tongue. That’s Mexican Spanish for you in a nutshell!
Such is the case with ‘yo merolas’, which is just a fun way to say ‘yo mero’.
Amelia – ¿Quién trajo este pastel?
Ingrid – ¡Yo merolas!
Amelia – Who brought the cake?
Ingrid – I did!
3 Yo merengues – Myself
‘Merengue’ means ‘meringue’ in English (as in the sweet mixture of sugar with white eggs that’s used in desserts).
Does it really have anything to do with ‘yo mero’? Nope. It’s just another fun way to say ‘yo mero’!
Manuel – ¿Quién te dijo que podías traer invitados?
Alma – ¡Tú merengues!
Manuel – ¿Yo? Ah caray, no lo recuerdo…
Manuel – Who told you that you could bring guests?
Soul – You did!
Manuel – Me? Darn, I don’t remember …
As a synonym of ‘right’ (i.e., ‘exactly‘)
4 Ahí mero – Right there
‘Ahí mero’ is an extremely common way to indicate a particular location.
Leticia – No encuentro mi celular, ¿lo has visto?
Rafa – ¡Está ahí mero en tu bolsillo!
Leticia – I can’t find my cell phone, have you seen it?
Rafa – It’s right there in your pocket!
5 Así mero – Exactly like that
‘Así’ means ‘like that’ in English, so the expression ‘así mero’ could be translated as ‘exactly like that’ or ‘precisely that’.
En clase de cocina
Víctor – ¿Está bien si cortó la cebolla de esta forma?
Maestra – ¡Así mero!
In cooking class
Víctor – Is it okay if I cut the onion like this?
Teacher – Exactly like that!
6 La mera neta – The honest truth
When it comes to Mexican phrases, ‘la mera neta’ is the ultimate pleonasm!
As it turns out, BOTH ‘neta’ and ‘mera’ mean ‘pure’ in English, so ‘la mera neta’ *should* translate to something like the ‘purest purity’ … except it doesn’t!
‘Neta’ is actually an extremely common way of saying ‘truth’ in Mexican slang, so ‘la mera neta’ refers to the ‘honest / absolute truth’.
La mera neta no me gusta nada esta situación.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t like this situation at all.
Ese wey siempre me dice la mera neta; por eso le pido consejo.
That guy always tells me the truth; that’s why I go to him for advice.
7 A lo mero macho – the absolute truth / the very bravest
‘Macho’ is a complex Spanish term that can have either positive or negative connotations, but in the phrase ‘a lo mero macho’ it refers to ‘bravery’ or ‘straightforwardness’.
And what does ‘mero’ have to do with ‘macho’?
Well, not much to be honest; in this phrase it’s basically used as an “intensifier”!
Renunció de su trabajo, así nomás, a lo mero macho.
He quit his job just like that, unflinchingly.
Te lo digo a lo mero macho: ese vecino me da mala espina.
I’m telling you for real: that neighbor gives me a bad feeling.
To describe someone/something important
8 Mero mole – My jam
‘Mero mole’ is a fun Mexican expression used to describe something that’s your “jam”.
Think that activity / subject that you’re super passionate about, your area of expertise, or THAT thing that makes your heart skip a beat!
If you think ‘mole’ sounds familiar, well, it probably is …. ‘mole’ is a traditional Mexican dish, and many people’s personal favorite (maybe that’s why ‘mero mole’ means something that you REALLY like!)
Polo – ¿Crees que a Miriam le gustará la guitarra que le compré?
Gilberto – ¡Sin duda! ¡La música es su mero mole!
Polo – Do you think Miriam will like the guitar I bought her?
Gilberto – For sure! Music is her jam!
Erika’s note – we’ve actually devoted a whole article to the meaning and uses of ‘mero mole’, so be sure to check it out!
9 El mero mero / La mera mera – The greatest / The boss
If ‘mero’ refers to something in a ‘pure’ (or, in this case, ‘great’)state, ‘el mero mero’ uses repetition to indicate that someone is ‘the very best’, ‘the top dog’, ‘the boss’, etc.
Si quieres que alguien te abra las puertas en esta industria, acércate a ella. Es la mera mera en el arte contemporáneo.
If you want someone to open doors for you in this industry, reach out to her. She’s the top dog in contemporary art.
Gonzalo – ¿Sabes quién es el mero mero aquí?
Armando – Sí, Joaquín maneja el negocio.
Gonzalo – Do you know who the boss is here?
Armando – Yes, Joaquín runs the business.
10 El mero petatero – The boss
A ‘petatero’ is someone who steps firmly on a ‘petate’ (a traditional Mexican mat made with palm fibers).
And, well, ‘petatero’ rhymes perfectly with ‘mero’, so when people talk about ‘el mero petatero’ (or ‘la mera petatera’), they’re referring to “the boss” or an expert in their field.
Yep, just like ‘el mero mero’.
Alguien le grita al cajero en una tienda y el dueño sale a ver qué pasa
Cliente – ¡Exijo hablar con el gerente ahora mismo!
Dueño – A ver señor, aquí yo soy el mero petatero, así que si algo no le gusta dígamelo a mí.
Someone yells at the cashier in a store and the owner comes out to see what’s going on
Customer – I want to speak to the manager right now!
Owner – Look, sir, I’m the boss here, so if something´s wrong, you can speak to me.
11 El mero bueno / La mera buena – The best
‘Bueno’ means ‘good’ in English and ‘el mero bueno’ is a colloquial way to say ‘el mejor’, or ‘the best / greatest’ in English.
Liliana – ¿Me pasas ese pincel, por favor?
Enrique – ¿Cuál? ¿Este?
Liliana – No, ese ya está viejito. El de al lado … ese es el mero bueno.
Liliana – Can you pass me that brush, please?
Enrique – Which brush? This one?
Liliana – No, that one’s a bit old. The one next to it … that’s the best one.
As a synonym of ‘almost’ and ‘nearly’
12 Ya mero – Almost
‘Ya’ is a rather confusing word that can mean ‘already’, ‘before’ and ‘right now’ (gulp!).
And if you whack a ‘mero’ after it, well, it means something along the lines of ‘almost’ / ‘nearly’.
I don’t make the rules, ok!
Madre – ¿Ya acabaste la tarea?
Hija – Ya mero, mamá…
Mother – Have you finished your homework yet?
Daughter – Almost finished, mom …
Mándale un mensaje diciéndole que ya mero vamos a llegar, para que no se preocupe.
Send him a message saying that we’re nearly there, so he doesn’t worry.
13 Ya merito – Almost
‘Ya merito’ is the diminutive form of ‘ya mero’ and – as with many diminutives – it’s an extremely popular Mexican expression.
It means exactly the same thing as ‘ya mero’, but people often use it to – politely – brush off someone who’s trying to rush them.
En una fonda
Comensal – Disculpe, ¿ya estará mi sopa? Llevo un buen rato esperando.
Mesero – Sí, señor, ya merito se la traigo.
At a fonda (a small Mexican restaurant)
Diner – Excuse me, is my soup ready yet? I’ve been waiting a long time.
Waiter – Yes, sir, I’ll bring it to you in a sec.
To describe someone or something of little importance / relevance (i.e., ‘mere’)
14 Mera coincidencia – Mere coincidence
Finally, there are a few popular expressions that use ‘mero’ in the same way as the English word ‘mere’.
‘Mera coincidencia’ is the Spanish equivalent of a ‘mere coincidence’, and it’s an expression used throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
No creo que sea mera coincidencia que tu ex reapareciera cuando recibiste la herencia.
I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that your ex reappeared when you received your inheritance.
15 Meras suposiciones – Mere assumptions
Similarly, we have ‘meras suposiciones’, which translates as ‘mere assumptions’.
¿Te consta lo que pasó o son meras suposiciones tuyas?
Is that really what happened or are they just assumptions?
I hope you enjoyed this – rather comprehensive – journey through all the uses of ‘mero’ in Mexican Spanish.
Maybe you’ll even start incorporating some of these phrases ‘ya mero’ (or ‘soon’) into your everyday lexicon and show your classmates / colleagues that you’re ‘el mero mero’ in Mexican slang!
Oh, and if you wanna learn more interesting words / phrases, make sure to check out our article on all the different expressions with the verb ‘caer’.