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View of the skyline of Makati | © Jon Bilous / Shutterstock
View of the skyline of Makati | © Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

15 Awesome Filipino Slang Words You Should Know

Picture of Ronica Valdeavilla
Updated: 20 January 2018

Filipinos are generally known to have a knack for invention — whether food recipes, unconventional products, or even language in everyday conversations. As the Philippines has been colonized by Spaniards, Americans, and the Japanese for a long period of time, Filipino language has evolved, stemming from foreign words, combining English and Tagalog, and reinventing the words already in their vocabulary.

Kilig

Having no exact equivalent word in English, kilig simply refers to one’s feeling of excitement or exhilaration during any romantic situation. It’s a sudden feeling which makes one feel like there are butterflies in the stomach caused by the romantic encounter.

There’s even a Filipino song about kilig:

Gigil

Another Filipino word which has no direct translation in English, this word means one feels overwhelmed by a situation and hence, have the uncontrollable desire to squeeze something cute. For instance, a Filipino woman who sees a cute, chubby baby would feel a desire to pinch its cheeks out of gigil.

Turo-Turo

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Filipino street food | © Debbie Tingzon / Flickr

When translated in English, the word turo means to point at something. This Filipino slang word was coined because those who buy their food from food carts and mini restaurants along the streets would just point at the exact dish or snack they’d want to buy.

Susmariosep

It’s an amalgation of the short forms Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. You’d usually hear this from Filipino adults who hear some big news, usually shocking or devastating ones. In some cases, Filipinos like to use this as an everyday expression, apart from the phrases you’ll usually hear them say.

Taratitat

Taratitat is the Filipino slang word used when referring to someone who’s extremely talkative. This person is someone who can talk for hours non-stop.

Charot

This is another popular slang word that Filipinos love to use in their everyday conversations. It simply means “just kidding.” When you say something that you either mean or don’t (but you don’t want to cause a commotion), you just add the word charot, and they’ll believe that you are joking.

Chibog

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Filipino food feast | © gautsch / Flickr

There are two ways to say this slang word — read it as it is or reverse the syllables that would read as bogchi. Either way, both simply refers to the Filipino slang word for food or eating time.

Swabe

Think you’ve been wooed by someone who’s cool or who has smooth moves? The Filipino slang word to refer to that is swabe. 

Chika

The word chika can mean two things — either something that’s not entirely true (e.g., gossip, rumors, etc.) or some new things 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?)

Jowa

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Filipino couple | © Ryan Albrey / Flickr

Jowa is a Filipino slang word that one uses to refer to his or her boyfriend or girlfriend. A closely related slang word which was used in the old days is the word syota. But there’s a stigma with using the term since syota originated from “short time,” which means that the relationship isn’t a serious one.

Basta

This slang word is from the Spanish interjection which simply means “Enough!” But in the Filipino context, the word basta (which has no direct English translation) means “just because I want to or don’t want to.” Or, in some cases, the person is pointing out that it’s important to carry it out, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes, Filipinos would use this word to shrug off someone as well.

In 2017, the following slang words became popular and widely used due to Filipino millennials who love to rearrange the syllables to form new words:

Lodi

When you spell this Filipino slang word in reverse, you would get the word “idol.” So lodi refers to the person whom you idolize or look up to.

Petmalu

This slang word comes from the reversed syllables in the word malupit or malupet. When translated in English, this slang word simply refers to someone or something that is extremely interesting or cool. It’s often used along with the slang word lodi.

Werpa

When the syllables are reversed, this new Filipino slang word is read as “pawer” or “power.” It’s usually used to give support to someone or something.

Here’s a song which only mentions the three words: lodi, werpa, and petmalu.

Rapsa

In its inverted order, the word rapsa becomes sarap, which means “delicious” in its English translation. So when someone finds a meal very delicious, you’d expect to hear him say, “Rapsa ng ulam.” (“What a delicious meal.”)