What Does Pinche Mean

What Does Pinche Mean

Many South American countries use the word pinche in different ways. Depending on the nationality of the speaker it has different meanings and applications. Mexicans are the ones who use it the most.

Commonly to express strong dissatisfaction or to reinforce a specific concept. Although it sometimes has a negative connotation, you can also use it in a positive way. 

In this article, we will show you the many uses of the word pinche. After reading and listening to our audio examples you’ll become an expert on this particular slang term. 

Origin of the Word Pinche

Originally, in Spain, the word pinche was used to refer to a chef’s assistant. That is a person who is in charge of washing vegetables, cutting potatoes, and other menial restaurant tasks. In a kitchen, the pinche is the lowest ranking employee. 

Cuando Juan todavía estaba en el colegio trabajaba de pinche en un restaurante. / When Juan was still in school he worked as a kitchen assistant in a restaurant.

According to the Royal Academy of Spanish Language (RAE), in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua a pinche is a stingy or cheap person. It is also used to refer to a miser, someone mean and despicable.

No me regaló nada para mi cumpleaños. Ese hombre es un pinche. / He didn’t give me anything for my birthday. That man is a cheap bastard.

In Chile, on the other hand, pinche means lover. It refers to someone you are having a new and informal relationship with. It is also used to call a kind of pin that girls wear in their hair. 

¿Tu pinche te dejó en visto? ¡No te merece! / The guy you are seeing is ghosting you? He doesn’t deserve you!

In Argentina, for example, it is used to name an object with a round base and a nail used to pin receipts in a store or an office.

In Peru, they usually call pinche to private soldiers or other low-ranking officers. 

Pinche is perhaps one of the most Mexican words there is. It doesn’t have only one meaning and is used in different situations. It is important that you learn the different nuances of this term before you start using it. For that matter, we will explore it in detail in the next section.

Uses of pinche in Mexico

In Mexico, you will hear the word pinche all the time. It has many connotations and you must learn how to use it properly to avoid problems. People use it mostly in casual conversations, so forget about applying it to formal situations like business settings. 

In many contexts, pinche is considered rude. Although, with time, it has become a common language and it is now much more than a simple insult. 

As often happens with slang terms, Mexicans have transformed pinche from the original noun to an adjective. Later on, from an adjective to an adverb. Nowadays, it is a word used to exaggerate or enhance something you are saying. 

You can also use it as a modifier to emphasize frustration with someone or something. Let’s see some examples to better understand the different uses of the word pinche in Mexico:

1. As an adjective

Although it is not a direct transcription, in English pinche can be translated as pejorative terms like “fuc*ing” or “damn”. Here are a few situations where you can hear it used as an adjective:

a. To convey that someone is despicable or very mean.

b. To express that something is bad or unpleasant.

c. To say that something is of low quality, low cost, or very poor.

d. As a negative epithet or insult, used in situations of anger or displeasure. 

e. To emphasize someone or something’s quality.

2. As an adverb.

In recent years, another meaning for pinche has become popular in Mexico. In this case, it is an adverb of manner that modifies verbs and adjectives. It is used as a prefix when trying to intensify an action or a quality. 

As we have seen, pinche is not always a negative word. In some cases, it can be positive. For example when it is used for emphasis, to highlight something in another word. Sometimes, especially younger people, use it to refer to a mate in a teasing manner.

¡Pinche Juan, pásame la pelota ya, quiero meter un gol! / Bloody Juan, pass me the ball already, I want to score a goal!

For a Mexican, it is not necessarily offensive to hear pinche before their name, as long as it is between friends. But beware, don’t say it to someone unless they say it to you first. 


In conclusion, pinche is a word with different meanings. It will depend on the country of origin of the speaker. It is more common to hear it from Mexican speakers since they use it for almost everything! It can have a negative connotation or a positive one.

Just remember to be aware of the context and tone of voice. Those two variables will define whether someone is angry or just happy and comfortable with your company.

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