The interjection órale is one of those words that defines Mexican Spanish for speakers of other dialects. It has several meanings. We’ll cover it’s most common uses here. It is informal without being considered rude.

  1. Reaction: ¡Órale! This works for reacting to any surprising news, good or bad. Your friend got a promotion? Hey, that’s awesome. You could say: ¡Órale! Look at his new suit! He looks fantastic! ¡Órale! You just saw someone get hit by a car? That’s gruesome. ¡Órale!
  2. Agreement: Órale. Here you are agreeing to the proposal just made. Wanna go for pizza? That’s fine. You could say: Órale. Here we might say something like Sounds like a plan.
  3. Provocation: In a movie, I heard ¡Órale, pinche maricón!, with the idea being: Bring it on, pussy. Let’s fight! This is really just a subtype of the agreement meaning above.
  4. Soliciting agreement: ¿Órale? Do you agree to the proposal I just made? Speaker A: Entonces, mira. Vamos a hacer una cosa … (the speaker makes his proposal) … ¿Órale? What do you think (of my proposal)? Are you in? Speaker B: Bueno. Okay. Speaker A: Órale. Great. It’s all set then.
  5. Ending a conversation: Órale pues. You can use this to signal that a conversation is ending, a kind of pre-closing. It works on the phone or in person. The idea is: Okay, see you around.
  6. Hurrying someone: ¡Órale! Step on it. C’mon, let’s go. Hurry up! In this sense it is a synonym for Ándale, another characterically Mexican word.

Órale con

To specify the source of your surprise, add con:

  • Órale con ese tipo. That guy is a real piece of work. He’s something else. It could be a mixture of admiration with contempt.
  • Órale con tu pelo. What in God’s name did you do to your hair?