Adventures Mexico / Travel  / 12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan
2 Sep

12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan



If you travel to Yucatan, you need to be prepared! Spanish here can be confusing even if you speak it or you’re learning it. Yucatan people has this particular way to speak mixing mayan words and phrases in their Spanish. They don’t even realized it!


I’m here to give you a list of 12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan. But before that, you need to know a few things about Mexico:


  • Mexico is such a diverse country.
  • Going from region to region, it might feel like border-crossing traveling.
  • People’s appearance, their indigenous background, costumes, food, folklore, weather and landscape are just a few of many things that change from state to state.
  • Language is of the main features that can be especially hard to adapt to.
  • There most spoken language of Mexico is Spanish.
  • There are more than 68 indigenous languages that are still part of Mexican culture.
  • The Náhuatl and Maya languages are the most spoken indigenous languages in Mexico.
  • Yucatan has the largest number of maya speakers in Mexico.



The “Mayan” Spanish of Yucatan 


Having all that Maya background, it’s very natural that Yucatan population say Mayan words while speaking. There are several expressions that Yucatan people use daily and that are based on Mayan language,

But worry no more! Here, I bring you a (very) small list with some of the most important Mayan words to keep in mind when traveling to Yucatán:



12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan


–    F O O D   –

1. Papadzul


Papa= Food, and Dzul= King or Royalty. It’s used to describe a very traditional Mayan dish. These are Tacos of hard-boiled egg, dressed in a pumpkinseed sauce and tomato sauce on top. It’s a must!


2. Sikil Pak


This is my personal favorite Mayan snack! From Sikil= Pumpkinseed and P’ak= Tomato. It’s a very popular “botana” in local Cantinas. It’s made out of ground roasted pumpkinseed and roasted tomatoes, all smashed and mixed with cilantro. One tip: add some habanero pepper sauce. Yummy!


3. Xnipec


Ever heard of Pico de Gallo? Well, in Yucatan we have our very own version of this sauce. Pickled in Sour Orange juice, it contains tomatoes, white onions, cilantro and habanero chunks. Of course, it is regularly very spicy, leaving you with a drippy nose after you had so much, somewhat similar to a dog… And hence the name… That’s right! Dog’s Nose! Ni= Nose; Pec= Dog.


–    P E O P L E   –


4. Chichí


This one is very famous all around Mexico. It refers to our always beloved Granny!

  • ¡Hay vengo Chichí! – I’m coming Granny!


5. Kisín


Many times featured in folkloric comedy, this words refers to the popular representation of evil, the red devil.

  • ¡Ven acá chan Kisín! – Come here, you little devil!


6. Alux


In Mayan mythology, Aluxes are the guardian spirits or sprites of the jungle, caves, and other important places in the wild. They are usually depicted as very small childish figures, similar to goblins or gnomes, with a sassy attitude. 

  • Si no te portas bien, te va a llevar el Alux – If you don’t behave, the Alux will come for you.


–     A N I M A L S    –


7. X’Keken


It’s used to describe a pork. There is a very famous cenote near Chichén Itzá under this name!


8. Tolok


The word is used to define the large iguanas natives of the region. Uxmal is a great place for spotting them, they love bananas.


9. Báalam


Jaguar. One of the most sacred animals for the Mayan culture. There’s even an ancient Mayan city called after them, Ek Balam, which means Black Jaguar.


–     B O D Y    –


10. Xic


This is one of the most used words on regular basis. It means armpit, which is called “axila” in Spanish, but no one calls it that way in Yucatan.

  • ¡Fo, báñate que te huele el Xic! –  Ugh, take a shower, your armpit stinks!


11. Tuuch


Another one that has virtually replaced its Spanish counterpart in some parts of Yucatan is “Ombligo”, which means Bellybutton.

  • ¡Deja de rascarte el tuuch! – Stop scratching your bellybutton! (The meaning of this Yucatan phrase is similar to “stop fooling around and do something (work)!”.


12. Pirix


A very common word for naughty expressions of disbelief. Pirix can be literally translated as Ass.

  • ¡Tu pirix! – Your Ass!  (I don’t have to explain it, do I?)


Extra Word!


13. Xix 

When you are eating and love your food, you won’t even leave the xix! Xix means “the rest” and it can be the rest of anything: food, drinks, the xix of the year, the xix of your holidays, etc.

  • ¿Te vas a comer el xix? – Will you eat the rest of it?




The “Yucatán Spanish” slang is very famous in the country, and very hard to follow up even for Mexicans from outside of The  Yucatan Peninsula! But now, I think you can defend yourself.


I hope this list was useful!



Thinking about coming to Yucatán? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you planning your trip and show you our beautiful home that is Mexico.

Leave a Reply: