Translations dictionary


or esse [es-ey] or [ey-sey]

What does ese mean?

Ese, amigo, hombre. Or, in English slang, dudebro, homey. Ese is a Mexican-Spanish slang term of address for a fellow man.

Related words

bato, dudebro, papi chulo, Papi, mija, del putas, pendejo, no mames, la familia

Where does 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 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 US.

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 them men write letters home to their eses.

Examples of ese

drop the loc ese i got you
@BLE4CHiGO, December 2018
I told my Mexican student to turn in his essay / He said "I ain't no snitch!".
NightmareBaloonBoy, Reddit, November 2015
I know my place, ese / I know my location / My station / Es aquí
José Antonio Burciaga, "El Juan from Sanjo" (poem), 1992

Who uses 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 friendly and familiar term of address…

…but it can also be more aggressively and forcefully.

Ese is associated with Mexican and Chicano American culture, where it can refer to and be used by both men and women. 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.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of ese like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ese that will help our users expand their word mastery.