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While browsing a few Spanish language forums today, I came across this:

Un amigo y yo estábamos comentando sobre una foto de nosotros en facebook - de hace tiempo... Otro amigo pensaba que quizás estábamos burlando de el... Es Mexicano y no quiero ofenderle. ¿Puedo decirle - "No te preocupes... solo es de vacilas!"?

I have always known vacilar as Spanish for "to hesitate or waver." Now to even consider using vacilar in the context mentioned above suggests it has some meaning I am not aware of. Does it? Does it mean "kidding" by any chance? If so, how prevalent is the word in that sense? There are other words that mean "to kid" more specifically...is vacilar preferred over them when that's what one means?

  • Wiktionary says it can mean simply "to enjoy" in some parts of Central/South America, but that's not very authoritative. – Flimzy Feb 6 '15 at 15:58
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    In Mexico - A "prank", a "joke" can be considered as a "vacilada". And yes, I'd say "kidding" is a very precise meaning when it comes to most language contexts here in Mexico. – Valdez V. Dec 6 '15 at 1:17
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According to RAE, vacilar also means:

  1. tr. Engañar, tomar el pelo, burlarse o reírse de alguien.

So in colloquial talking we would say "vacilar" to kind of cheat someone. I do not recall any other word with the same meaning (maybe "engañar", but it has a bigger and more serious connotation), so this is probably the preferred one.

Example

Imagine you are telling someone "hey, yesterday I ran a marathon in 2.30 h!" (a very, very good time). Then, the other can tell you "Me estás vacilando, tú no estás tan en forma" (you are teasing me, you are not that fit).

  • Umm...that does not fully answer the question. – TheLearner Feb 4 '15 at 10:38
  • Well, the key point here is that "vacilar" is used to cheat or kid someone, yes. I cannot recall any other word with the same meaning, so it is indeed preferred over others. – fedorqui Feb 4 '15 at 10:43
  • If it is in the dictionary, it can no longer be considered slang. It is, nevertheless, an informal or colloquial meaning for the word. – Gorpik Feb 4 '15 at 16:26
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    @Gorpik that is a very fair point. I just replaced it to "colloquial", which is more accurate. Thanks! – fedorqui Feb 4 '15 at 16:32
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In Venezuela we use to say: "un chico se vaciló (o se vacila) a esa chica", to indicate that he seduces a girl without serious intent.

We also say "me vacilé ese paseo" to mean "I enjoyed the ride".

The song "El Nazareno", by Ismael Rivera says:

"Yo estaba en un vacilón,
Fui a ver lo que sucedía.
Cuando más me divertía y empezaba a vacilar,
No sé de dónde una voz vine a escuchar".

Vacilón means "a moment of enjoyment".

A third meaning of "vacilar" (in Venezuela): we use to say "vacílate esta película", i.e. "please watch this movie", the sense in this case is to enjoy without complication.

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In Chile "vamos a vacilar" would mean "let's go party/go out/go have fun".

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I would say that vacilar carries a connotation of being somehow aggressively kidding someone, or making fun of, more than with them. I think that the meaning of vacilar is closer to teasing than to kidding.

In your example, and this might be due to a regional variation, I would have said

"No te preocupes... solo es de vacile!"

I mean, you can "vacilar a alguien", someone "te vacila", but you "estás de vacile" (not "de vacilas").

Some other ways of saying "I'm kidding you" could be:

  • Te estoy tomando el pelo
  • Estoy bromeando / Te estoy gastando una broma
  • Estoy de coña

All these mean something closer to "I'm joking / I'm kidding" than "I'm making fun of you / teasing you".

Other ways to describe "vacilar a alguien" could be:

  • Tocar las narices / tocar los huevos
  • Incordiar

which, as you can see, have a more aggressive connotation.

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