Naco (slang)

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Naco (fem. naca) is a pejorative word often used in Mexican Spanish to describe Spanish slang in one of the few Mexican forms.[1] Naco is also used to pejoratively describe someone who has indigenous roots. The correct meaning comes from an Indigenous language. This is pointing fingers at someone with lack of knowledge of his own culture.

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

Definition and usage[edit]

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 is 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 have derogatory intentions.[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[edit]

In recent 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. The word naco is unfortunately still used as a pejorative adjective or noun for indigenous people.

See also[edit]


  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)