or E.S.E.

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Other definitions for ESE (2 of 2)


a suffix forming adjectival derivatives of placenames, especially countries or cities; frequently used nominally to denote the inhabitants of the place or their language: Faroese; Japanese; Vietnamese; Viennese. By analogy with such language names, -ese occurs in coinages denoting in a disparaging, often facetious way a characteristic jargon, style, or accent: Brooklynese; bureaucratese; journalese; computerese.

Origin of -ese

First recorded in 1895–1900; probably originally from Italian -ese, later representing Spanish, Portuguese -es, French -ais, -ois, all from Latin -ēnsem “pertaining to, originating in”; see -ensis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does ese mean?

Ese, amigo, hombre. Or, in English slang, dude, bro, homey.

Ese is a Mexican-Spanish slang term of address for a fellow man.

How do you pronounce ese?

[ es-ey ] or [ ey-sey ]

Where did the term ese come from?

Ese originates in Mexican Spanish. Ese literally means “that” or “that one,” and likely extended to “fellow man” as shortened from expressions like ese vato, “that guy.”

There are some more elaborate (though less probable) theories behind ese. One goes that a notorious Mexican gang, the Sureños (“Southerners”), made their way from Mexico City to Southern California in the 1960s. Ese is the Spanish name for the letter S, which is how the gang members referred to each other. Or so the story goes.

Ese is recorded in English for a “fellow Hispanic man” in the 1960s. It became more a general term of address by the 1980s, though ese remains closely associated (and even stereotyped) with Chicano culture in the U.S.

Ese is notably found in the Chicano poetry of José Antonio Burciaga and Cheech & Chong comedy routines (Cheech Marin is Mexican-American.)

White confusion over ese was memorably parodied in a 2007 episode of the TV show South Park. On it, the boys think they can get some Mexican men to write their essays, but the men write letters home to their eses instead.

Who uses the term ese?

For Mexican and Mexican-American Spanish speakers, ese has the force of “dude,” “brother,” or “man” (i.e., a close and trusted friend or compatriot).

It’s often used as a friendly and familiar term of address …

… but it can also be used more aggressively and forcefully.

Ese is associated with Mexican and Chicano American culture, where it can refer to and be used by people of all genders. The term is also specifically associated with Mexican-American gang culture.

It is often considered appropriative for people outside those cultures to use ese, especially since some non-Mexican people may use ese in ways that mock Mexicans and Mexican-American culture.

More examples of ese:

“I know my place, ese / I know my location / My station / Es aquí
—José Antonio Burciaga, “El Juan from Sanjo” (poem), 1992


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use ESE in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ESE (1 of 2)


symbol for

British Dictionary definitions for ESE (2 of 2)


suffix forming adjectives, suffix forming nouns
indicating place of origin, language, or styleCantonese; Japanese; journalese
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012