In short –‘Qué pex‘ is Mexican slang that translates as ‘what’s up’ or ‘what’s happening‘. Don´t be surprised if you hear this expression when being addressed casually in Mexico City (worry not, it´s normally said in a friendly manner!).
You´re more likely to hear this expression in Mexico City and its surrounding states; locals in the northern and southern parts of the country use it less frequently or not at all. If you do try it out for size, you’ll probably be recognized as a ‘Chilango’ (a person who lives in Mexico City).
It’s basically a variation of the ubiquitous ‘qué pedo’ – albeit an abbreviation with gentler wording.
Uses / meanings of ‘qué pex‘
If we break down this phrase, it consists of the interrogative pronoun ‘qué’ (which literally translates to ‘what’) and the word ‘pex’ (not listed by the Royal Academy of Spanish), which is slang for ‘pedo’ (or ‘fart’ in English).
Since ‘pex’ isn’t an actual word, some people, especially children and teenagers, use it as an equivalent of ‘pedo’. The assumption is that they´re more likely to get away with it in the presence of adults, given that its pronunciation, similar to that of ‘pez’ (‘fish’), makes it sound fairly innocuous.
´Qué pex´ can be used in the following ways –
- As a synonym of ‘What’s up?‘
- Used merely as a greeting (i.e., there´s no intention of engaging in actual conversation)
- Used as an interjection to express strong feelings, such as surprise, repulsion, confusion, or indignation
As a synonym of ‘What’s up?‘
´Qué pex´ can be used in a similar way to the English phrase ´What’s up?’ –
Alejandro – ¡Hola Marina! ¿Qué pex con la escuela?
Marina – ¡Hola! Tengo mucha tarea, pero todo bien.
Alejandro – Hey Marina! What’s up with school?
Marina – Hi! I have a lot of homework, but it’s all good!
Used merely as a greeting
In Mexico City you may well overhear two friends, neighbors or even acquaintances greeting each other casually with a simple ‘Qué pex’, without any kind of follow-up conversation.
It would be used, for example, by someone who´s casually strolling through a park and suddenly comes across his neighbor –
Fabian – ¡Qué pex!
Adrián – ¡Hola, güey!
Fabian – What’s up!
Adrian – Hey, bro!
Used as an interjection to express strong feelings
A surprising or remarkable situation can lead a person to say ‘¡Qué pex!’ out loud, as a way of expressing absolute shock.
Both ‘¡Qué pedo!’ and ‘¡No manches!’ can be used in a similar way.
Natalia – ¿Qué pex? ¿Por qué chocaron los taxis?
Daniela – ¡Par de brutos! Todo por pasarse el alto…
Natalia – What happened? Why did the taxis crash?
Daniela – Pair of idiots! All because they ran a red light …
‘Qué pex’ pronunciation
To pronounce the phrase correctly, we need to consider each word individually: ‘Qué’ is said like ‘keh’ (similar to the ‘ke’ in ‘keratin’), and ‘pex’ like ‘peh x’ (the ‘pe’ is said like the ‘pe’ in ‘pet’).
/ keh peh x /
‘Ni pex’ meaning
This is another common phrase with the word ‘pex’ in it. It´s best used as either an expression of indifference (used in a similar way to the English word ‘whatever’), or to express denial (like the phrase ‘no way’).
¡Ya perdimos el pesero! Ni pex, nos subimos en el que sigue.
We missed the bus! Whatever, we’ll get on the next one.
¿Quieres que te preste el coche? No, ni pex
You want to borrow the car? No way, no.
Similar expressions to ‘qué pex‘
As I said before, ‘qué pex’ is a gentler variation of ‘qué pedo’, which literally translates to ‘what fart?’.
If ‘qué pex’ is informal, ‘qué pedo’ is even more so. Use it wisely, since it can also be used somewhat aggressively.
¡Qué pedo! Quieres pleito, ¿o qué?
Hey! You wanna fight or what?
‘Qué onda‘ is an informal, yet gentler (and much more common) greeting than ‘qué pex’.
¿Qué onda, Juan? ¿Cómo andas?
What’s up, Juan? How are you doing?
Qué hongo, mi champiñón
This one’s very funny as it literally means ‘what fungus, my mushroom?’. If you whip this out, you´ll certainly impress Spanish speakers (and get a few laughs while doing so!).
Want to know more?
I strongly advise you head on over to our article on the different ways to say ‘what’s up‘ in Spanish. You´re bound to find everything you´re looking for and more!
Street slang has a cultural significance in Mexico that can strengthen the bonds between neighborhoods, towns, and generations. Cinema and TV have popularized phrases such as ‘Qué pex’, even in other Latin American countries.
Despite its informality, it can demonstrate deep friendliness, so if you feel comfortable, it can be a very fun way to greet someone or to express surprise – your friends will surely be astonished at your deft handling of Mexican slang!