Mexican slang: "A wilson"?
November 14, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I was just told that in Mexican Spanish slang, "a wilson" means "of course". So, I want to know: a) Is this true? b) If so, what is the etymology of this usage?
posted by everichon to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's true.

a wilson sounds like a huevo, which is a vulgar way to something is
obligatory or by force.

For example: Tengo que ir a la escuela a huevo = I have to go to school, it's obligatory.

You can use it to say "of course":

- ¿Te gustó la película? (Did you like the movie?)
- ¡A huevo! (Of course!)

So you can say a wilson to avoid saying a huevo. Why? Because huevo means egg, but is also a vulgar way to say testicles.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:51 AM on November 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: So, "wilson" is kind of like "gosh", then?
posted by everichon at 9:55 AM on November 14, 2008

Note: A wilson does not mean one wilson. A is a preposition.

Also, I think in Argentina or Spain, poner a huevo means "in a silver platter", when something is just too convenient.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2008

So, "wilson" is kind of like "gosh", then?

A bit, but it's not something the church lady would say in polite company.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2008

I came to post but clearlydemon has done a far better job than I could and I can only add that Mexican language in general is full of innuendo and inside jokes. Huevos is considered vulgar so an innuendo has been created, of course now that innuendo will cause titters when used as well because everybody knows it's just a euphamism for balls.

Also, "con huevos" is the vulgar way to say "hurry up" or "do it with authority" sort of like saying "put your back into it" except using balls instead of back.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2008

Response by poster: No, I understand about the "a", I just want to clarify that the relationship is due to their sounding roughly alike rather than, say, some well-known incident involving someone named "Wilson".
posted by everichon at 10:02 AM on November 14, 2008

Yes, it's because the way they sound.

A similar example:

- ¿Cómo estás?
- Felipe y con tenis (Feliz y contento)
posted by clearlydemon at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

the relationship is due to their sounding roughly alike

That doesn't really make sense, because they don't actually sound alike at all (the only similarity is the initial /w/), but of course idioms don't need to make sense and nobody ever knows how they got started. In any case, thanks for the question and answers, because now I know more than I did before!
posted by languagehat at 10:59 AM on November 14, 2008

this is totally fascinating. more Spanish slang/idioms, por favor!
posted by aliceinreality at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2008

Just wanted to thank languagehat for that commentary, because I thought that I was taking crazy pills sitting at my desk trying to make them sound similar and the "h/w" was where the similarity was ending for me also. I was just about to start screaming that I invented the piano key necktie.

@aliceinreality: Texas, where I grew up, has a lot of fun Spanglish. If you're interested in Spanish slang/idioms, that is a fun place to go also. Lots of fake verbs get created by simply adding the traditional spanish endings onto english words and then conjugating (roughly) appropriately. My favorite was "matchear." The verb "to match."

As for slang, I can only help with dirty words!
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2008

I think most Mexicans tone down the slang in conversations with me, speaking more standard Spanish to make life easier for this here gabacho. I'd never heard of "a wilson" or "felipe con tenis" before, so I'm learning as well. One I just stumbled upon is instead of saying ¿Qué onda?" ("What's up?"), sometimes people will say, ¿Qué hongo?" ("What mushroom?").

Unless somebody's putting me on, that is.
posted by donpedro at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sometimes we use "a wilbur" instead of "a wilson". Mi particular favourite is "simon" instead of "si".

Don pedro, "Qué Pez?" (what fish) o "Qué Pedo?" (what fart) are also equivalent to "what's up"
posted by elmono at 2:15 PM on November 14, 2008

Regarding the apparent lack of sound similarities languagehat pointed out, this is even more deformed: Most mexicans, myself included, pronounce huevo with a "g" sound at the beggining (and in phonetical Myspace/IM/Texting settings you'll see many kids writting it güebo or webo).

Also "a huevo" in the first meaning clearlydemon gave is more or less the same as "by the balls" (and is almost a literal translation now that I think of it).
posted by fjom at 2:36 PM on November 14, 2008

¿Que Pedo? is also a mildish "What the hell?" Like, someone cuts you off and you yell "¿Que Pedo, cabron?"

My friends also use "¿Que Pedo, LA?" as an unofficial motto for our fine city, sort of the way we used to use "Thanks, Detroit!" any time there was an egregious municipal fuck-up in that town.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on November 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

What about this one?

I heard the word jipollas (that's a complete guess on the spelling) used. No idea what it means.

It was pronounced like this hee-poy-as
(the 'as' at the end doesn't sound like oz, it sounds like the das in das boot)

Anyone know this one?

--In case you're interested, it was heard in the TV show Dexter. Said by Jimmy Smits' Miguel Prado. Dexter asked what it meant, and Prado said 'You don't want to know.'
posted by gummo at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2008

There's also cámara, it's similar to OK or "I agree/I'm on it". I have no idea where that comes from.

de a grapa = gratis
ai' nos vidrios = ahí nos vemos

Also, huevón (and thus, güevón) means lazy, or old enough:

Lava tu ropa, ya estás huevoncito = Wash your own clothes, you are old enough.
Lava tu ropa, no seas huevón = Wash your clothes, don't be lazy.
posted by clearlydemon at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2008

gilipollas = asshole. It's only used in Spain.
posted by clearlydemon at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2008

(Asshole as in idiot, not as in anus)
posted by clearlydemon at 3:20 PM on November 14, 2008

My best guess is that Wilson refers to the U.S. President of that name. He's one of those select US Presidents that many Mexicans can name, mainly because of the Mexican Expedition.

Also, Mexican slang and Spanglish are two different things. The former is an urban slang, covered fairly well by this blog. The latter is more of a mixing of two languages and cultures. It is Mexicans not Mexican-Americans that say "a wilson."
posted by vacapinta at 3:21 PM on November 14, 2008


Gilipollas is used in Spain. It can mean idiot, fool, jerk or dick-head. Polla means "dick" in castillian, but the worg GIL is iberian-gypsy or caló for fool.

Now, in México puñetas would be an equivalent word for the fool, idiot meaning. Meanwhile culero is used for dick-head, altough we sometimes use "kool-aid" too.
posted by elmono at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2008

>My best guess is that Wilson refers to the U.S. President of that name.

If this is slang for "balls," wouldn't Wilson tennis balls be a more likely culprit?
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:11 PM on November 14, 2008

vacapinta, that blog is priceless. Now I can explain why donpedro hasn't heard many of these expressions: he lives in a fresa zone.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:21 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If this is slang for "balls," wouldn't Wilson tennis balls be a more likely culprit?

In Mexico, those who say a wilson and tennis players are not exactly the same demographic.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:36 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey. I resemble that remark. Is it even possible for a gabacho to be either a fresa or a naco -- anything other than just a pinche gabacho? And besides, you're not exactly in any position to brag about living in an edgy, gritty zone. :)

Nifty blog, vacapinta, I'll have to bookmark that. And yeah, I don't think tennis enters into the equation.

Elmono, thanks for the etymology of "gil" in gilipollas. My Spanish friends always think it's hilarious that I live near a rosticeria called Gilipollos.
posted by donpedro at 8:44 PM on November 14, 2008

In Chile "De más" (certainly, of course) becomes "De Michael"" or even "De Michael Jackson". "Listo" (ready) becomes "Liz Taylor".
posted by signal at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2008

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