‘Qué poca’ – Meaning / In English

Quick answer – ‘qué poca’ is a well-known Mexican slang expression. Depending on context, it can mean ‘what the heck’, ‘I cannot believe your nerve’, and ‘shame on you’.

It´s a super common expression in Mexico and you´re sure to hear it when out socializing with your Mexican pals.

And where (on earth!) does it come from?

Well, it´s actually just a euphemism for another popular (and considerably more vulgar!) Mexican expression: ‘qué poca madre’.

¡Qué poca! Eso no se hace.

What the heck! You don’t do that.

Uses / Meanings of ‘qué poca

Qué poca’ can be used in the following ways –

  • As a way of saying ‘What the heck’ / ‘I cannot believe your nerve’

  • As a way of saying ‘Shame on you’

  • To start a phrase or idea with ‘How little (…)’

As a way of saying ‘What the heck’ / ‘I can´t believe your nerve´

‘Qué poca’ is normally used to express outrage, a bit like the English expression ‘what the heck’ or ‘what the heck is wrong with something / someone’.

As I mentioned above, it´s a euphemism for the phrase ‘qué poca madre’ and obviously carries a much gentler meaning.

For example –

Ana – El concierto empezó hace una hora y ese cabrón todavía no llega. 

Laura – ¡Qué poca!

Ana – The concert started an hour ago and that idiot still hasn’t arrived.

Laura – What the hell is wrong with him!


Diego – Unos perros mataron a mi gato.

Óscar – ¡Qué poca! No lo puedo creer …

Diego – Some dogs killed my cat.

Oscar – What the heck! I can’t believe it …

If the person in question has done something selfish, it can also mean something akin to ‘I can´t believe your nerve´ –

Diana – Hazme un paro* y préstame un poco de dinero. Mañana te pago.

Francisco – ¡Qué poca! Aún me debes $500, ¿recuerdas?

Diana – Do me a favor and lend me some money. I’ll pay you back tomorrow.

Francisco – I cannot believe your nerve! You still owe me $500, remember?

*Erika´s note – the phrase hacer el paro is the Mexican Spanish equivalent of ‘to do a favor‘.

As a way of saying ‘shame on you

Similarly, ‘qué poca’ is often used to shame someone over something morally questionable they’ve done.

Alicia – ¿Viste ese tipo? Se pasó el alto. 

Karina – ¡Qué poca! Eso es* muy peligroso.

Alicia – Did you see that guy? He ran the red light.

Karina – Shame on him! That’s really dangerous.

Erika´s top tip – it´s very easy to get ‘es‘ (third person singular of the verb ‘ser‘) and ‘está‘ (third person singular of the verb ‘estar‘) muddled up!

Be sure to check out our article on es‘ vs ‘esta to find out more!

To start a phrase or idea with ‘how little (…)

If we translate ‘qué poca’ literally, we get ‘how’ (‘que’) and ‘little’ (‘poca’)

So, when used at the beginning of a sentence, ‘qué poca’ expresses surprise or puzzlement about the low quantity or quality of something.

Just remember to say ‘qué poca’ if the noun it´s describing is feminine and ‘qué poco’ if it´s masculine.

Qué poca luz hay en este teatro. 

There´s very little light in this theater.

¡Qué poco amor me demuestras!

How little love you show me!

Qué poca’ pronunciation

The word ‘qué’ is said like ‘keh’, and ‘poca’ sounds like ‘poh-kah’


/ keh poh-kah /

Similar expressions to ‘qué poca

Qué poca madre

Be careful with this bad boy as it´ll make you sound super angry and is pretty darn rude to boot!

There’s no literal equivalent of ‘qué poca madre’ (it translates to something along the lines of ‘what little mother’), but it basically means ‘that´s so f***ed up’ or ‘that´s so sh**’.

Adrian – ¡Se robaron mi bicicleta!

Enrique – ¡Qué poca madre!

Adrian – My bike was stolen!

Enrique – That’s so f***ed up!

Qué pocos huevos

You’ll hear people using ‘qué pocos huevos’ and ‘qué poca madre’ pretty much interchangeably.

A ‘huevo’ is an ‘egg’ but it´s also a euphemism for ‘testicle’, so it’s often used to describe someone who doesn’t have the courage to face up to something (a bit like saying ‘he´s got no balls’ in English). 

It´s also super colloquial so tread lightly

Nacho – Gallo, se fue del depa y no pagó ni la renta.

José – ¡Qué pocos huevos!

Nacho – Dude, he left the apartment without paying the rent. 

José – What an a**hole! / What a coward!

Final thoughts

That´s all for today, folks!

You can whip out a ‘qué poca’ the next time you want to express rage or anger amongst close friends – just remember to take a deep breath and chill after that!

Head on over to our article on te pasas if you wanna learn another super useful Mexican expression!

¡Hasta pronto!