‘Neta’ Meaning in Mexican Slang

In short – ‘neta’ is an EXTREMELY popular Mexican slang word meaning ‘truth’, ‘really’, ‘the best’ and a variety of other things! If you immerse in Mexican culture, you’re gonna hear ‘neta’ used A LOT (and I mean A LOT!).

But what exactly is ‘neta’? Well, unlike other well-known Mexican slang words that are generally made-up, ‘neta’ is an actual Spanish word that means ‘clean’, ‘shiny’ or ‘pure’.

Back in the 17th century, ‘neta’ was a word reserved for the “educated” and was mainly confined to the realm of poetry. Ironically, it’s now a slang term (it´s not recognized by the RAE) and is used by pretty much everyone (well, almost!) in Mexico.

So, when and how should you be using the word ‘neta’?

Let´s get into the nitty-gritty!



Uses / Meanings of ‘neta

 ‘Neta’ can be used in the following ways –

  • As a synonym of ‘truth’

  • As a synonym of ‘for real’

  • As a synonym of ‘honestly’, ‘really’, ‘truly’ and similar adverbs

  • To describe an ‘awesome’ person

  • To describe an ‘awesome’ object / thing

  • In the context of finance, it’s also a synonym of ‘net’


As a synonym of ‘truth’

When a Mexican talks about ‘la verdad’, they’re talking about the “truth”, but if they speak about ‘la neta’, they’re talking about THE truth: undiluted, unvarnished, and unequivocal!

Bruno – ¿En verdad te dio Covid o solamente fue excusa para no ir a la escuela?

Gibrán – Es la neta, wey; si quieres te enseño el resultado del PCR.



Bruno – Did you really get Covid or was it just an excuse for skipping school?

Gibrán – It’s the honest truth, bro; if you want, I can show you the PCR results.


Paty – ¿Se me ve bien esta chaqueta? Dime la neta.

Irma – ¡En serio que sí! Te ves increíble.



Paty – Does this jacket look good on me? Tell me the truth.

Irma – It seriously does! You look incredible.


Raquel – ¿Crees que estén diciendo la neta en el noticiero?

Ben – No sé, pero la misma noticia está siendo replicada en todos los medios.



Raquel – Do you think they’re telling the truth on the news?

Ben – I don’t know, but the same story is popping up everywhere.



As a synonym of ‘for real’

Neta’ is also the Mexican equivalent of the English expression ‘for real’

Regina – No puedo creerlo, wey. ¿Estás seguro que no te jugaron una broma?

Jaime – La neta, wey. Te juro que en mi casa espantan.



Regina – I can’t believe it, bro. Are you sure someone wasn’t playing a prank on you?

Jaime – For real, bro. I swear; my house is haunted.


Mario – Conseguí boletos para el concierto de Billie Eilish.

Marce – ¿Neta?* ¡No te pases!



Mario – I got tickets to the Billie Eilish concert.

Marce – For real? Get outta here!

*Erika’s note – if you happen to be in some other Spanish-speaking country, fret not! There are MANY other great ways to say ‘for real?’ or ‘are you serious?’ in Spanish!

We’ve also written an article on the slightly cruder version: al chile.




As a synonym of ‘honestly’, ‘really’, ‘truly’ and similar adverbs

So far you’ve seen ‘neta’ being used as a noun (i.e., ‘truth’) and as an expression similar to ‘for real’, but you can also use it as you would various English adverbs (pretty darn versatile, right?!).

In this context, it normally translates to ‘seriously’, ‘honestly’, etc.

La neta no creo que llueva hoy; no se ve una sola nube en el cielo.

I honestly don’t think it’s gonna rain today; there’s not a single cloud in the sky.


La neta dudo mucho que esa sea una buena idea.

I seriously doubt that this is a good idea.


Miguel – ¿Entonces no me recomiendas para nada viajar en esa aerolínea?

Sofía – Neta que no. Tienen un pésimo servicio.



Miguel – So you don’t recommend that I fly with that airline?

Sofía – I really don’t. Their service is terrible.


To describe an ‘awesome’ person

Yes, ‘neta’ can also be used to describe a person (regardless of gender)! Although it has a variety of connotations in this sense, they’re ALWAYS positive.

If your friend is just freaking ‘awesome’, they’re ‘la neta’.

Of course, if they’re trustworthy and truthful, they’re also ‘neta’.

And if you wanna express admiration for a ‘cool’ person, or someone who’s ‘the real deal’ … yup, you guessed it, they’re ‘la neta’ as well!

Dos compañeros de departamento después del trabajo

Mateo – Qué onda, wey.

Ernesto – Hola, ¿cómo te fue en el trabajo?

Mateo – Equis. Pero pasé al súper y traje unas chelas.

Ernesto – ¡Eres la neta! Gracias.



Two roommates after work

Mateo – What’s up, bro.

Ernesto – Hey, how was work?

Matthew – Lame. But I dropped by the supermarket and brought some beers.

Ernesto – You rock! Thank you.


Karla – ¿Te gusta la música de Rosalía?

Diego – ¡Obvio! Ella es la neta.



Karla – Do you like Rosalía’s music?

Diego – Obviously! She’s the real deal.


Si quieres una buena crítica constructiva, habla con Fany; es bien neta.

If you want some good constructive criticism, talk to Fany; she’s very frank.


To describe an ‘awesome’ object / thing

‘Neta’ can also be used to describe an object or thing (both material and not-so-material!).

¿No has visto esa película? ¡Es la neta!

Haven’t you seen that movie? It’s amazing!



La comida de mi novio es la neta.

My boyfriend’s food is the best.


In the context of finance, as a synonym of ‘net

Interestingly enough, there’s one translation of ‘neta’ that’s extremely similar to the English: ‘net’, as in “the gain after expenses”or the “final”amount.

En una reunión de trabajo

Gerente – Como pueden ver, esta fue la ganancia neta del bimestre.

At a work meeting

Manager – As you can see, this was the net profit for the two-month period.



Necesitamos invertir una suma neta de medio millón para optimizar nuestros procesos y asegurar reducción de costos en el futuro.

We need to invest a net sum of half a million to optimize our processes and ensure cost reduction in the future.


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"



Neta‘ pronunciation

‘Neta’ is composed of two syllables: ‘ne’ sound like ‘neh’ and ‘ta’ is said like ‘tah’.

Simples.

/ neh-tah /


Neta, wey’ meaning


Wey’ is the SUPER popular Mexican version of ‘dude’ or ‘bro’.

So, the phrase ‘neta, wey’ could be translated as ‘really, bro’ or ‘to be honest, bro’, depending on context.

¿Neta, wey? ¿No piensas lavar tu ropa jamás?

Really, dude? Do you ever plan to wash your clothes?



La neta, wey, no creo poder ir a la fiesta.

To be honest, bro, I don’t think I’ll make it to the party.


La pura / la mera neta’ meaning

This is a way of stressing – even more! – that what’s being said is the absolute truth!

And since ‘pura’ and ‘mera’ both literally mean ‘pure’ in English (i.e., the actual meaning of ‘neta’) this is indeed an absolute – and funny – pleonasm.

La mera neta, no me gusta andar descalzo.

To be completely honest, I don’t like walking about barefoot.



¿Seguro que me estás diciendo la pura neta?

Are you sure you’re telling me the absolute truth?




Similar expressions to ‘neta

La neta del planeta

As with many Mexican expressions, ‘la neta del planeta’ rhymes, which makes this phrase even catchier than ‘la pura neta’.

And what does it mean?

Well, it literally translates as ‘the planet’s truth’ or ‘the planet’s best’ (not as fetching in English, I know).

¡Eres la neta del planeta, carnal!

You’re the real deal, bro!



La neta del planeta, me encanta ir a la uni.

Truth be told, I love going to college.


Final thoughts

Now you know the truth (or the ‘neta’) about this popular Mexican slang term! Go forth and impress your Mexican friends!

And if you wanna learn another super common Mexican expression, make sure to check out our article on no seas malito!

¡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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