‘No manches’ – Meaning / In English

In short – ‘no manches’ is an extremely common Mexican expression that literally translates to ‘don’t stain’ in English. However, it has A LOT of different meanings and connotations in everyday speech.

‘No manches’ is actually a euphemism for a much more vulgar phrase which we won’t mention here … though if you spend any time in Mexico, you’re probably going to hear it quite a lot as it’s also super common.

Anyway, despite being a euphemism, ‘no manches’ is so commonplace that you’ll likely hear people from all walks of life and of all ages using it (even kids)!

Let’s get into the juicy deets!

Uses / Meanings of ‘no manches

No manches’ can be used in the following ways –

  • To express surprise or disbelief

  • To express excitement

  • To express disappointment
  • To express anger or outrage

To express surprise or disbelief

‘No manches’ is the perfect expression for when you’re rendered speechless.

In this sense it means something like ‘no way’ or ‘you’re kidding’.

Almendra – Ayer corté con mi novio.

Heriberto – ¡No manches! No lo puedo creer. Se veían muy bien juntos.

Almendra – I broke up with my boyfriend yesterday.

Heriberto – You’re kidding me! I can’t believe it. You looked so good together.

Nicolás – ¡No manches!

Karla – ¿Qué pasó?

Nicolás – ¿No has visto las noticias? ¡El popocatépetl está haciendo erupción!

Karla – No manches…¿Neta?*

Nicolás – No way!

Karla – What happened?

Nicolás – Haven’t you seen the news? Popocatépetl is erupting!

Karla – No way … Honestly?

*Erika’s top tip – ‘¿neta?’ is a fun and extremely common Mexican expression, it’s kinda like saying ‘really?’ or ‘for real?’ in English (amongst other things!).

To express excitement

If you’re as excited as you are speechless, then a heartfelt ‘no manches’ will help convey just that –

Néstor – ¡Te dieron el papel protagónico en la obra de teatro!

Lucrecia – ¡No manches! Pensé que no lo lograría.

Néstor – You got the leading role in the play!

Lucrecia – You’re kidding! I didn’t think I’d get the part.

Mario – ¿Qué crees? ¡Nos ganamos pases VIP para el concierto!

Bertha – ¡No manches, qué buena onda!

Mario – Guess what? We won VIP passes to the concert!

Bertha – Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!

To express disappointment

Of course, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and depending on the intonation and context, ‘no manches’ may also reflect utter disenchantment or frustration.

In this context it normally translates to ‘darn’, ‘jeez’ and the likes.

En el aeropuerto

Federico – No manches

Gaby – ¿Qué pasa?

Federico – ¡Olvidé el pasaporte!

In the airport

Federico – Come on

Gaby – What’s the matter?

Federico – I forgot my passport!

Miriam – Las oportunidades para comprar una propiedad son escasas para generación.

Ben – No manches…Tienes razón.

Miriam – Opportunities to buy a property are rare for our generation.

Ben – Jeez … You’re right.

To express anger or outrage

Finally, ‘no manches’ can also be used to express feelings of rage (I did warn you that life wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows!).

No manches que volviste a llegar tarde al trabajo…¡no tienes remedio!

Don’t tell me you were late for work again … you’re hopeless!

Nacho – Wey, creo que te estafó…

Beatriz – ¡No manches!

Nacho – Dude, I think he conned you …

Beatriz – Darn it!

It’s also important to note that if you’re addressing more than one person, you’re gonna have to use ‘no manchen’ instead –

En el metro de la Ciudad de México

Viejo – ¡No manchen! ¡Dejen de empujar, van a lastimar a alguien!

On the Mexico City subway

Old man – Gosh-darn! Stop pushing; you’re going to hurt someone!

No manches’ pronunciation

‘No manches’ consists of two words:

  • The word ‘no’, although spelled the same as ‘no’ in English, is pronounced like ‘noh’
  • ‘Man’ sounds like ‘mahn’ and ‘ches’ is said like ‘chehs’

/ noh mahn-chehs /

Is ‘no manches’ a bad word?

‘No manches’ is so popular and widespread that it’s kinda become disassociated from its more vulgar cousin.

It’s even made its way onto the big screen; the first installment of the Mexican comedy “No manches, Frida” come out in 2016.

Regardless of how commonplace and innocuous it might be, keep in mind that ‘no manches’ is still a colloquial expression, so it’s best kept out of the workplace, etc.

BUT don’t be surprised if you do actually hear people using it in more formal contexts as well! I know, it’s a bit confusing but just proceed with caution, that’s all I’m saying …

Padre – ¡No manches! ¿Qué haces trepado en ese árbol?

Hijo – ¡Dijiste no manches!

Padre – ¿Y luego?

Hijo – Mi mamá dice que no diga esa frase.

Father – Gosh-darn! What are you doing up in that tree?

Son – You said gosh-darn!

Father – So?

Son – Mummy told me not to say that.

Similar expressions to ‘no manches

No inventes

This is a great alternative to ‘no manches’ for more formal situations or if you just wanna tread carefully.

It literally translates as ‘don’t make things up’ in English, so it’s kinda like saying ‘you’re kidding me’ and the likes.

¿Te vas a casar? ¡No inventes! ¡Felicidades!

You’re getting married? Are you kidding me? Congratulations!

No te pases

This means something along the lines of ‘don’t push it’, and although it sounds like a threat or warning (and depending on intonation it might be … check out our article on all things te pasas if you wanna know more!), it’s also used as an interjection to express disbelief or excitement.

It’s perfectly safe to say in any situation (yippee!).

¡No te pases! Esto es la mejor sorpresa de cumpleaños que me han dado.

Get out of here! This is the best birthday surprise I’ve ever had.


When it comes to expressing disappointment in Mexican Spanish, there’s nothing quite like an earnest ‘chale’, another fascinating and extremely common Mexican expression.

Pamela – ¿Ya viste el precio de la gasolina?

Mónica – Chale, ¡está carísima!

Pamela – Have you seen the price of gas?

Mónica – Jeez, it’s so expensive!

Final thoughts

Hopefully this article has helped you get rid of any lingering doubts you may have had about this popular Mexican expression, and maybe even inspired you to use it the next time you hang out with your Mexican buds!

Ready to learn more marvelous Mexican expressions?

Then shimmy on down to our article on machín, you won’t be disappointed!

¡Hasta la próxima!

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