‘Órale’ – Meaning / In English

In short – ‘órale’ is an EXTREMELY common colloquialism in Mexico and Central America which has a variety of meanings depending on context, such as ‘okay’, ‘come on’, ‘wow’ and MANY more.

Órale’ is a fusion of ‘ora’, which is an abbreviated version of ‘ahora’ (or ‘now’), and the suffix ‘le’; it actually originated in Spain (despite the fact that you’re very unlikely to hear it used there nowadays!).

And what’s with the ‘le’?

Well, there are MANY popular Mexican words ending with ‘le’, such as ‘ándale’ and ‘híjole’. It’s a suffix, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the indirect object pronoun!

Nowadays, ‘órale’ is mostly used in Latin America and it’s definitely a word you need to be using if you wanna sound like a true native.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty!




Uses / Meanings of ‘órale

Órale’ can be used in the following ways –

  • To indicate surprise, akin to ‘wow’
  • To express anger or disappointment
  • As an expression of encouragement or support
  • As a synonym of ‘hurry up’
  • To express understanding, akin to ‘oh, I see’
  • To express agreement
  • To get someone’s attention


To indicate surprise, akin to ‘wow

This is one of the most popular uses of ‘órale’.

In fact, it’s so darn popular that it should really be your go-to word for ‘wow’ if you live in Mexico or Central America and want to speak like the locals (even though the English word ‘wow’ is kinda common too)!

Artemisa – Hermanito…¡Me voy a casar!

Aarón – ¡Órale! ¿En serio? ¡Felicidades!



Artemisa – Little brother … I’m getting married!

Aarón – No way! For real? Congratulations!


En una fiesta de disfraces

Saúl – ¡Órale, Paty! ¡Qué chévere* está tu disfraz!



At a costume party

Saúl – Whoa, Paty! Your costume looks awesome!

*Erika’s note – ‘chévere’ is one of the most popular ways to say ‘awesome’ in Latin America!


To express anger or disappointment

Of course, surprise can turn into disenchantment or even outrage, and ‘órale’ is a popular reaction in those instances too!

Ignacio – Órale

Lisa – ¿Qué pasó?

Ignacio – Reprobé el examen de física.



Ignacio – Oh darn

Lisa – What happened?

Ignacio – I failed the physics exam.


Una pareja tiene una discusión

Órale, si así van a ser las cosas, mejor cortamos.



A couple having an argument

Fine, if that’s how things are gonna be, let’s break up.

As an expression of encouragement or support

Is your favorite team playing a match?

Well, ‘órale’ can also be used to show support! It’s similar to phrases like ‘come on’ or ‘let’s go’.

Un niño antes de dar su primer recital de piano

Teo – Papá, estoy muy nervioso.

Gonzalo – ¡Órale, sácudete esos nervios como si fueran pulgas y disfrútalo!



A boy before giving his first piano recital

Teo – Dad, I’m really nervous.

Gonzalo – Come on, shake off those nerves and enjoy it!


Un fanático viendo un partido de fútbol

¡Órale, portero! ¡Muéstrales quién es el mejor del mundo!



A fan watching a soccer match

Let’s go, goalie! Show them who’s the best!


As a synonym of ‘hurry up

When someone’s taking too long to do something and you’re running a little late, well, you can use (you guessed it!) ‘órale’ as a way of saying ‘hurry up’.

¡Órale, mamá, vamos a llegar tarde!

Come on, Mom, we’re gonna be late!



Órale, hay que apagarle a la olla o se van a pegar los frijoles.

Hurry up and turn off the pot or the beans will stick to the bottom.

To express understanding, akin to ‘oh, I see

‘Órale’ is also used when you have a sudden realization or finally figure something out.

Yep, it’s the perfect word for those “eureka” moments!

Diana – ¿Por qué metiste el pastel al refri?

Alexandre – Siempre es bueno poner a enfriar la primera capa de betún antes de poner la que sigue.

Diana – ¡Órale! ¡Con razón nunca les quedan grumos a tus pasteles!



Diana – Why did you put the cake in the fridge?

Alexandre – It’s always good to cool the first layer of icing before applying the next one.

Diana – Oh, I see! No wonder your cakes are never lumpy!

To express agreement

This is another VERY common use of ‘órale’!

You can actually use it pretty much as you would ‘ok’ when expressing agreement.

Édgar – ¿Cómo ves si ahorramos entre los dos para unas vacaciones?

Ulises – Órale, me agrada la idea. ¿A dónde te gustaría ir?



Édgar – What if we both save money for a vacation?

Ulises – Okay, I like the idea. Where do you wanna go?


Fabiana – Ya le dí de comer a Firulais; que no te convenza de darle más.

Germán – Órale, no te preocupes.



Fabiana – I already fed Firulais; don’t let him convince you to give him more.

Germán – Noted, don’t worry.

To get someone’s attention

Finally, ‘órale’ can also be used as a way of getting someone’s attention …. normally in order to warn them about something OR to tell them not to do something.

Vecinos evacúan su edificio durante un sismo

¡Órale, tengan cuidado…que se pueden caer si corren!



Neighbors evacuate their building during an earthquake

Come on now, be careful … you might fall if you run!


En el metro

¡Órale, no empujen!



On the subway

Stop pushing, gosh-darn!


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"



´Órale´ pronunciation

‘Órale’ is what’s called an ‘esdrújula’ word, which basically means that the third-to-last syllable is stressed, as indicated by the accent on the ‘o’.

It’s pronounced as follows –

  • ‘ó’ sounds like ‘oh’
  • ‘ra’ is said like ‘rah’ (it’s a soft ‘r’ sound, which is made by lowering your tongue against your hard palate)

  • And ‘le’ sounds like ‘leh’

/ OH-rah-leh /


Órale pues’ meaning

‘Órale pues’ has no literal translation, but it’s often used in a similar way to the English phrase ‘okay then’.

As such, you can use it when agreeing with someone, regardless of whether you’re being genuine or not …

¿Quieres ir al teatro? Órale pues, me suena bien.

Do you wanna go to the theater? Alright then, sounds good to me.



Órale pues, yo saco la basura esta vez…

Okay then, I’ll take out the trash this time …


Órale, wey / vato’ meaning

‘Wey’ (or ‘güey’) means ‘dude’ or ‘bro’ in Mexican slang – we have a whole article devoted to the meaning and uses of ‘wey’, if you’re curious! –, and ‘vato’ is a very popular way of saying ‘guy’, so you’ll often find both words accompanying expressions like ‘órale’ and ‘ándale’.

And what do they mean?

Well, basically any one of the possible connotations of ‘órale’ + ‘dude’ / ‘bro’ (i.e., ‘come on, dude’, ‘okay, bro’, etc.)!

¡Órale, wey, no te pases de listo!

Careful, dude, don’t be a smartass!


¡Órale, wey, qué chidos están tus tenis!

Whoa, bro, those are really cool sneakers!


Damián – ¿Quieres ir por un helado?

Melisa – Órale, vato, vamos.



Damián – Do you wanna go get an ice cream?

Melisa – Alright, dude, let’s go.


Similar expressions to ‘órale

Me late

This incredibly popular Mexican phrase can also be used to express agreement, pretty much in the same way as ‘órale’.

Gertrud – ¿Te late que ordenemos una pizza?

Elías – ¡Me late!



Gertrud – Are you up for ordering pizza?

Elias – Of course!

Va que va

Similarly, ‘va que va’ is another fun and casual way of saying ‘okay’ in Mexican Spanish.

Make sure to check out all the uses and meanings of ‘va que va’ as well!

Omar – ¿Te gustaría ir por un café?

Iker – Va que va. Hay un café muy bueno cerca de aquí.



Omar – Would you like to go for a coffee?

Iker – Sure thing. There’s a very good cafe near here.

Ora

‘Ora’ can actually still be used interchangeably with ‘órale’, especially in the sense of ‘come on’ and ‘wow’.

¡Ora! Me espantaste.

Come on! You scared me.


Final thoughts

Hopefully you’ve had fun exploring this interesting – and super versatile! – Spanish expression and will soon be whipping it out with your Mexican or Central American friends.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll get a heartfelt ‘órale’ in response.

And if you wanna keep expanding your Spanish vocab, then head on over next to our insane list of 35 (yes, 35!!!) ways to say ‘okay’ in Spanish!

¡Hasta la próxima!

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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