Miami Slang for the Visitor

Miami has a fun and diverse blend of languages that have produced what some people call a unique “slanguage”. It can benefit any visitor to the flashy international city to become acquainted with the local colloquial expressions and street jive. This city of sand, surf and sun has a local language that hops with a beat, heart and message that is known world-wide as “My Jammy” (Miami) swing.

The languages that have merged in this tropical concrete city, with the sunny beachfront backyard include: Cuban, Mexican Spanish, Haitian, numerous Caribbean Island jargon, various African dialects and of course American English. Just like the cultural festivals the language on the streets of Miami is a jumble of dialects and slang and you must listen carefully to understand what is being said or asked (especially when getting directions). Knowing what some of the more common phrases and words mean might help a tourist or visitor.

Often the Miami street slang heard in clubs and bars is a reflection of the uneducated and often gang style of life that permeates the city scene (this is not unlike most major metro areas world-wide). This is not the same as Spanglish, used by young, hip working folks that create the melting pot flavor seen in the population of urban Miami. One dialect runs into another forming a new sound and pronunciation of vowels, words and phrases, until Miami has its own unique “slanguage”

Here is how to learn to speak like a local, even if you are from Shoboken or Queens.

If you are trying to get to the Kennedy Space Center you will want to ask for directions to “The Rocket Ranch”.

When going to the famous South Beach area, locals say “we’re goin’ to SO BE” for the day. Then when the nightlife begins you will hear people say, “Let’s go cruise The Bee”, which of course means to check out South Beach hot spots. Other beach slang includes: “Let’s go to The Grove (Coconut Grove)”, or The Lauderdale’ or the The Gables’.

You will hear lots of people speaking “Spainglish” Miami style with common phrases such as:

“COMB OH VAH” or in Spanish como va, which means, How is it going?

” MOO WE BAY YO” or in Spanish muy bello, which people say all the time and means very beautiful. It can refer to girls in bikinis to sunsets to jazzy cars.

“Papi” is another common Miami slang word. It is used by women to refer to their men. For example they might say “Oye, papi I love your shoes.”

“Oye” is used constantly in conversation and basically means Hey’. Here is an example “Oye, where you goin’ bro?”

Guys and gals use “bro” in their language referring to both men and women.

“What’s the haps?” is another slang term for where is it happening.

The term “Miamese” refers to people born and bred in Miami who are considered “shallow and materialistic”, but proud of their ignorance and the fact that they still live mommy and daddy while driving a car 4 times their yearly salary.

Her are a few more words you may encounter:

Zeen for seen.

Feezy is a word that comes from Creole sources meaning fake.

The West Indian language influence can be seen in words such as: “dun know” ( I don’t know), “greezy” (grease laden), “jam” (a mess) and many more.

And if someone calls you “Miami Steve”, it means you’re a cool dude, bro.