Miami-isms Explained

It has come to my attention that various phrases and terminology that I thought everyone used is in fact just a Miami thing. The thing is, I feel an obligation to define and explain, to those who don’t know, what these words and phrases mean to a “Miamian.”

1. Bro  

By definition or by what would make sense, this is a shortened version of the word “brother,” as in the boy whom you share parents with, while in fact, it means much more than that. Bro could be your mom, friend, dog, professor, sister, dad, the guy you like or person who cuts you off in traffic. I am not sure who made this a thing but we are all bros and that’s a fact, bro.


2. Dalé 

For any of my Pitbull fans out there, this might be an easy one. Quite literally “dalé” means go ahead. When someone says they’re gonna go out to the club tonight, a proper response is “dalé.” You’re basically saying you agree that it’s a good idea and all plans to do whatever it is you’re talking about should go ahead and begin. To further this word’s meaning and up your Miami lingo usage, this word can be paired up with the words “Que tu Puede” as it is in this format in the hit song “Ay Chino” by Pitbull. This means, “go ahead and do it because you can.” This is similar to dalé but with an extra something to get the message across.


3. No yeah/Yeah no 

“No yeah,” means yes and “yeah no,” means no. There’s little sense in why this is a thing but I can’t seem to stop saying it. When you ask a Miami person a yes or no question, be prepared to ignore the first answer and take the second as their final answer. As I like to see it, this is kind of like saying, “yes, the answer is no,” or “no, the answer is yes.” Still, it’s a bad way to speak but yeah, no, I’m not stopping. 

Courtesy: Funny Junk

4. Eating sh*t 

This is one phrase that I feel needs some addressing. For the 305th time, it is not literal. Most, if not all of the time, it does not mean eating things. “Eating sh*t” could mean absolutely anything that is usually not productive. It could be watching TV, doing laundry, organizing makeup. It is often used to mean an activity that is far from what you’re supposed to be doing. Working out, for example, would never be a part of eating sh*t. It is far too productive and beneficial. It’s closely related to goofing off or just doing close to nothing.

Courtesy: Giphy

5. Super 

Most of the time it’s used as a word used for emphasis. Everything can be super. “Super cute, super boring, super funny”. “Super” is somewhat of a cousin of “very” but with the Miami twang it takes on a more intense role in speech. The word can be used alone as in “Ay, how are you?” A serious ‘Yam might answer “Super.” Just like that. I’m not sure if there’s any structural sense in saying this, but it can be done right if you are skilled in your Miami vocabulary. 


6. Pena 

Directly translated Pena means pity, however, when said in MIA, it usually means more of an embarrassment kind of thing. When you want to talk to that attractive person that sits in front of you in class, but you’re scared to: You, my friend, have Pena. It’s like that feeling in you that makes you feel too scared to say or do something. Someone that has no Pena does things without thinking or without worrying about the outcome so to speak. Pena is often used with Que as in “Que Pena.” This pretty much means how embarrassing. If someone got really drunk and did a lot of stupid things, you and your Miami friends might say, “Did you hear what happened to Caro? Que Pena.” 

Courtesy: Pinterest

7. Kissing on the Cheek (Besitos)

This one isn't much of a phrase as it is an action, but I feel like it’s usage should be noted in this article. Since the dawn of time, Hispanics, as well as anyone who grew up in Miami gives everyone they meet air kisses on the cheek out of the utmost courtesy and manners. My mom was telling me to give relatives, friends, and people I just met kisses on the cheek since the young age of three. It’s just how things are done in Miami. We feel handshakes are too far from meeting someone so we like to brush cheeks and make that kissing sound. I guess if you didn’t grow up doing this, it does seem like a weird practice, but we’re not trying to make out with you we are literally just saying hi.

8. Literally

Although also used in other places, literally is never quite as overused as it is in a Miami person’s conversations. It loses its meaning when it is attached to literally everything. It’s even thrown into phrases that no one was questioning their actuality. “I literally love her.” No one thought you figuratively loved her but literally is just added because it just rolls off the tongue and onto almost every sentence you could want it too. When you just want to say more words you slip “literally” onto the front, middle or end of what you’re saying. Secondarily, literally can be an over exaggeration of something. Usually when someone says "literally no one" or "literally everyone," it means no one or everyone. It's just Miami over-exaggeration for you. “This sandwich is literally the best thing ever.” “Literally everyone went to Bimini for spring break.” “I go to Starbucks every day, literally.”

9. A mission

To Kim Possible and every other superhero on TV, a mission would be defusing an atomic bomb or settling a world war, but in Miami, a mission could be waiting in traffic, getting coffee or going out to the club. It involves no special skills or camouflage gear but Miami missions are the way we describe usually pretty common tasks in life. “Going to LIV is such a mission.” This means that going to the club LIV is slightly harder than it should be or that we would want it to be. A mission could mean simpler tasks as well. “Making that turn on US1 is such a mission.” I have no clue what mission started the wave of Miami natives using this word to mean doing various semi-stressful things, but I’ll continue to say that various assignments, events and responsibilities are in fact “missions.”

10. Mamá 

Although commonly known as your mother, Mamá in Miami lingo can pretty much mean any girl. She could be your friend, your sister, your cousin, your peers or a pretty girl at the bar. Mamás are everywhere if you look for them. When a Miami guy calls you Mamá he is not low-key telling you remind him of his mom. On the contrary, being called Mamá is usually a good and positive thing. However, Mamá is not limiting at all. The other light of Mamá can be more of a negative. If I say “Mamá, that outfit is a little scandalous” to my friend, it’s because I am pointing out the not so appropriateness and Mamá can often be the word used to call someone when you’re pointing out something that a mom might actually say. “Don’t stay out too late Mamá.” I know what you’re thinking Miamians are weird. Mamá is more fun when it’s just how you address your pressed up Mamás. 

Well there you have it, bro, that was literally, the best list of Miami phrases that we have no Pena but to overuse. It was not too much of a mission to compile, but I do hope this gives you some insight into the Miami mind or reminded you of how super nonsensical some of your favorite Miami words really are. No yeah, I think this will help you get the idea of eating sh*t out of your mind once and for all. Go forth and say dalé in peace because you are educated in its usage. It’s fun to be a Miami Mamá.

Besitos (on the cheek),