Naco (slang)

Naco (fem. naca) is a pejorative word often used in Mexican Spanish to describe the bad-mannered, poorly educated people or those with bad taste. Close equivalents could include bogan, tacky, scanger and ghetto. "Redneck" can also be close although the word in Spanish palurdo is more similar since it is used for rural people.[1] Naco is also use to describe someone who is ashamed of his or her own culture. Quite the opposite of what has been mostly used. The correct meaning comes from an Indigenous language. This is pointing fingers at someone with lack of knowledge of his own culture.

A naco  na'ko is usually associated with lower socio-economic classes and/or the indigenous, but it also includes the nouveau-riche.

Definition and usage

The term naco is generally used to describe people, behaviors or aesthetic choices seen as unrefined or unsophisticated, often in a comic way. As a person, the "naco" may display a general lack of refinement by adopting a "gangster mentality", unrefined verbal expressions or slang, peculiar accents, lack of social manners, or comically bad taste. The word likely originated as a contraction of "totonaco" referring to the members of the Totonac people, which in the past was sometimes used as a disparaging term for indigenous people in general.[2]

The term is often associated to lower social classes, but it is also used as an elitist expression from the educated to describe the uneducated, and among the middle and upper classes as a synonym of bad taste. In many situations, the word may have no derogatory intention and may even demonstrate familiarity.[3]

The Mexican definition of a naco may be analogous to the American modern-day definition of redneck, the British chav or the French beauf. However, the usage and derogatory tones vary. For example: "Damn, that guy is such a naco"

Sociolinguistic use

In the last decades, the middle and upper classes in Mexico have experienced a rapid expansion due to, among other things, economic development and urbanization. The new middle class and "nouveau riche" have entered the competition on status symbols such as cars, houses, and jewelry, which have given rise to the term "naco" as a form of cultural or economic elitism. Mexicans of higher status often see extravagant displays of wealth as making a person more naco, in that they make spectacles of themselves by overcompensating for lower social status.

See also


  1. Güey Spanish - Mexican Slang Dictionary
  2. Zentella, A. C. (2007). “Dime con quién hablas, y te diré quién eres”: Linguistic (In) security and Latina/o Unity. A companion to Latina/o studies, 25-38.
  3. EQUIS magazine. Cultura y Sociedad. Braulio Peralta (ed). México, Ulises Ediciones, No. 1, May, 1998, pp. XVII-XX. (Dossier: Autonomías en el mundo)
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