THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
Words nearby ESE
Definition for ESE (2 of 2)
Origin of -ese
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does ese mean?
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).
I needa kick it wit my ese's its been a minute
— al (@a1anxs) February 1, 2019
It’s often used as a friendly and familiar term of address …
Always a good time with my ese. 😎 pic.twitter.com/xxM4YroWDV
— Yaheli'🎈 (@yg_monroe) January 12, 2019
… but it can also be used more aggressively and forcefully.
Cypress Hill 2018:
Who you tryin' ta mess with, ese?
Don't you know I'm seeking professional help for my deep rooted emotional problemsssssss?!?
— JAY. (@GoonLeDouche) June 30, 2018
“You’d have to be crazy to swipe left.” Who you tryna get crazy with, ese? Don’t you know I’m loco? Sorry, always wanted to say that. Anyway, swipe left. Might actually be crazy.
— Why I Swiped Left (@LeftyMcSwiper) December 17, 2018
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.
What's up ese? pic.twitter.com/0vAQxZZ6SO
— アレジ・アキラ (@AlesiAkira) January 21, 2019
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.
Example sentences from the Web for ESE
E moof 'way off by 'ese'f; 'e lose 'e fat, un 'e heer is bin-a come out.
Rain fall, 'e hug 'ese'f wit' 'e wing, 'e scrooge 'e neck up.
But he vndirstondes e first figure at is in e nombur of e forsayd teen figuris, e quych is one of ese.The Earliest Arithmetics in English|Anonymous
“Ese no all-e-same; Ese Tiapolo,” says my friend; and, with a “Good-bye,” slunk off among the trees.Island Nights' Entertainments|Robert Louis Stevenson
ESE Zamora is a skull without lower jaws or indication of sex.An Annotated Check List of the Mammals of Michoacn, Mxico|Bernardo Villa R.