Filipino Slang Words to Help You Speak Like a Local

Children all smiles
Children all smiles | © John Christian Fjellestad / Flickr

When visiting the Philippines, it’s important to learn a little bit of Filipino language to make the most of your experience. However, to really impress locals, you need to max out your vocabulary with the country’s popular slang words!

The Philippines has a rich vocabulary, with modified words from languages such as English and Spanish. The fun parts are the slang words, which are invented by locals and continue to evolve through time. To better understand the Filipino language and culture, explore the awesome local slang words listed here.

While we can’t take you to the Philippines (yet), we can make you feel like a local on one of our many other premium, bookable vacations. Check out the full collection here.

Kilig (ki-lig)

When you watch romantic films or catch your crush staring at you, what exactly do you feel? In most cases, people will describe the feeling as a kind of loved-up giddiness. But in the Philippines, people refer to this feeling as kilig. Having no direct translation in English, the word describes that butterfly-in-your-stomach kind of excitement during a romantic encounter.

A man holding flowers in front of a woman

Gigil (gi-gil)

Gigil is another Filipino word which has no direct translation in English, but is commonly used in everyday conversations. You’ll usually hear this from someone who feels overwhelmed by a situation and thus gets the uncontrollable desire to squeeze something. It may refer to a positive feeling – for instance, a Filipino woman who sees a cute, chubby baby would feel a desire to pinch its cheeks out of gigil. Yet in some cases, the word may also refer to something negative – gigil sa galit wherein the person feels extreme anger towards another person or situation.

Susmariosep (soos-mar-yo-sep)

Susmariosep is a combination of the shortened names of the Holy Trinity – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It’s an abrupt reaction you’ll most likely hear from Filipino adults who’ve just learned some big or shocking news. For example, your halo-halo shipment just melted in the sun – susmariosep!

Nyek (ni-yek) / Oops

While the word nyek has different variations, such as nye, nge, or ngek, they all mean the same. It’s commonly used in situations where you’d feel pleasantly surprised or shocked – usually upon hearing corny jokes or cheesy one-liners. Expect to hear this expression if you deliver a bad ‘knock knock’ joke while on your travels.

Children all smiles

Charot (cha-rot) / Just kidding

This is another popular slang word that Filipinos love to inject into their everyday conversations. When you accidentally say something that you don’t really mean and others think you’re being serious, add this word at the end of the sentence. They’ll instantly believe you are indeed joking. In some cases, Filipinos add the word charot to their jokes. That’s because in Filipino culture you can’t be too direct or blunt.

Chibog (chi-bog) / Food or eating time

There are two ways to say this slang word — read it as it is or reverse the syllables and read it as bogchi (bog-chee). Either way, both simply mean food or meal time. You’ll commonly hear this at informal Filipino parties and gatherings. When the guests have arrived and the food is ready, expect to hear the host say “chibugan na” (eating time)!

Jowa (jo-wah) / boyfriend or girlfriend

Jowa is a Filipino slang word used when referring to a friend’s significant other. A closely related slang word is syota (sho-tah)which has a stigma attached to it since itoriginates from the Filipino phrase for “short time,” implying the relationship isn’t a serious one. When asking if a friend is still in the dating phase or they’re now committed to each other, ask “jowa mo na?” (Is he already your boyfriend?)

Couple gazing at the sunset

Basta (bas-tah)

While this slang word comes from the Spanish interjection which simply means “Enough!,” it has a different meaning in the Philippines. The word basta (which has no direct English translation) means “just because I want to” or “don’t want to.” In some cases, the person is pointing out that an action is important to carry out, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes people also use the word to tell someone to go away.

Lodi (lo-di) / Idol

If you spell this Filipino slang word in reverse, you would get the word “idol.” In short, lodi refers to the person you idolise or look up to. This is a popular word with millennials, who tend to make generous use of it in Facebook posts. Whenever someone has passed board examinations, graduated from college, or makes any significant achievement, you would call that person a “lodi” to congratulate them.

Petmalu (pet-ma-loo) / Interestingly cool

This slang word is famous among Filipino millennials. The word petmalu is a syllabic reversal of the word malupit or malupet, the Tagalog term for cruel. When millennials use the word, the intention is to refer to someone or something that is extremely interesting or cool.

Filipino children strike a pose

Werpa (wer-pah) / Power

Similar to the two previous slang words mentioned, “werpa” is a millennial product of twisting words and establishing them as part of everyday conversation. This relatively new Filipino slang word reads as pawer or power when reversed. It’s normally used to give support to someone.

Mumshie (mum-shee) / Mom

Don’t get confused, but moms aren’t the only ones being called mumshies in Filipino culture these days. Another millennial invention, mumshie is a moniker often used to affectionately refer to a close friend.

Bes (bes) / Friend

Just like the Filipino word mumshie, bes is an endearment between friends. It comes from the word best friend and has resulted in other variations such as besh, beshie, or even beh. It’s widely used in daily conversation and social media. However, in some cases, people don’t limit the word to their friends and use it to refer to anyone.

Two girl best friends

Chika (chee-kah) / Gossip

The slang word chika can mean two things — either something that’s not entirely true (e.g., gossip, rumors, etc) or some new information that your friends are expecting to hear from you. For example, “Have you heard about the latest chika (gossip)?” or “Ano’ng chika mo?” (What’s new with you?)

Keri (ke-ree) / Carry

You’re probably wondering why Filipinos would use the word “carry” as a slang word. Turns out, they’re not really referring to carrying an object. Keri is often an answer to the question: “Can you do it?” It basically means a person is able to handle anything that comes their way.

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