Canijo – Translations & Meanings in English

DefinitionCanijo is a Spanish slang word whose meaning can vary depending on the situation. It can be used to express emotions or that something is difficult to do. Additionally, it can be used to describe a clever or a bad person and a slang way to say ‘guy’ or ‘dude’. 

What Does ‘Canijo’ Means?

  • Translation #1: When used to express emotions, ‘canijo’ means ‘Jeez’ or ‘Oh my God’. 
  • Translation #2: If used to describe a smart, clever or bad person, it can be translated as ‘to be good at it’, ‘clever’ or ‘mean’. 
  • Translation #3: As an adjective, it also means ‘difficult’, ‘incredible’ or ‘big’. 
  • Translation #4: It means ‘dude’, ‘guy’ or ‘buddy’. 

How and When to use ‘Canijo’

  • To express emotions. In casual conversations, canijo can be used as a way for people to express surprise, anger or frustration. As a result, in this case, this expression is close in meaning to ‘Jeez’ or ‘Oh My God’. 
  • To describe an object or situation. As an adjective, in Spanish, we use ‘canijo’ and ‘canija’ as a way to describe a difficult, big or incredible situation or object. In this context, this Spanish adjective can be translated as ‘big’, ‘very’, ‘difficult’ or ‘huge’. 
  • To describe people. Another popular use of ‘canijo’ is to describe people. Depending on the context, this word could express that a person is clever or bad. It means ‘mean’, ‘smart’, ‘to be good at it’, ‘clever’ or ‘mean’.
  • As a synonym of ‘guy’, ‘girl’, ‘dude’, ‘buddy’. In conversational Mexican Spanish, speakers use ‘canijo’ and ‘canija’  as a way to refer to someone else. 

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Examples of How to Use ‘Canijo’ in Spanish

Here are some real-life examples of how to use ‘canijo’ in Spanish. 

To express emotions

Notice that in this case, ‘canijo’ doesn’t have a feminine form and it always remains the same. 

Ay, canijo, me quemé la mano
Oh, Jeez, I burned my hand

Ah, qué canijo, pues espero que te encuentres bien
Oh My God, I hope you’re okay

¿Sabes dónde están mis llaves? ¡Ah, canijo! Yo no las dejé aquí
Do you know where my keys are? Oh, Jeez, I didn’t leave them here 

To describe an object or situation

With this meaning, this word works as an adjective. As a result, you will need to adapt it to match the gender of the object or situation you’re talking about. 

Tengo un hambre canija
I’m very hungry

¡Qué canijo está arreglar tu coche! 
Your car is so difficult to fix!

La verdad está canijo encontrar un buen trabajo
To be honest, it’s very difficult to find a good job

As an informal way to refer to a person

Since in this context, you’re using ‘canijo’ to refer to a person, you will need to use ‘canijo’ when talking to men and ‘canija’ for women. 

Qué guapo está el canijo
That guy is very handsome

Oye, canija, ¿dónde dejaste mi celular?
Hey, dude, where did you leave my phone?

¡Hola, canijos! ¿Cómo han estado?
Hi, guys! How have you been?

To describe people

In this situation, you can use this Spanish adjective to express that a person is:

  • Good at something
  • Smart
  • Clever
  • Mean
  • Bad
  • Witty

As a result, you need to pay attention to the context in order to know which meaning is being used. 

Tu primo es bien canijo, ten cuidado con él
Your cousin is bad, be careful with him

Mis amigos son muy canijos, pero son agradables
My friends are very witty, but they’re nice

La chica nueva es bien canija para las matemáticas
The new girl is very good at maths 

Who Can You Use ‘Canijo’ With?

This informal expression is very popular in Latin American Spanish speaking countries as long as it’s used in casual conversations. 

Synonyms: 6 Ways To Say ‘Canijo’

  • Compa → It’s a Mexican informal word that people use as a way to say ‘dude’, ‘guy’ or ‘buddy’.
  • Difícil → It’s means ‘difficult’. 
  • Listo → It’s the direct translation of ‘clever’. As a result, it can be used as a more formal synonym for ‘canijo’ when describing people. 
  • Morro →  It’s a Mexican slang word that people use to refer to someone else. It means ‘boy’, ‘guy’ or ‘girl’. 
  • Malo → It can be translated as ‘bad’ or ‘mean’.
  • Complicado → It’s another standard word that people use to express that something is difficult. It means ‘complicated’. 

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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