The song Hotel California by The Eagles starts with:

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air

As a Spanish native speaker from Spain, I cannot understand what colitas means in this context. To me, this word means "little tail", as in, when a person with long hair wears it in a pony tail.

Also, in countries like Argentina, I know that cola also means "ass".

However, this song is most probably influenced by Mexican Spanish, so I went and looked for slang meanings of the word. AsíHablamos reveals tons of results and, for example, it says that in Mexico it can mean either "pussy" (vagina, slang) or "soda":

Vagina, dicho en clases bajas y medias bajas

Bebida gaseosa, pegamento

Still, a "warm smell of colitas" wouldn't match any of these words (well... no, no).

So, assuming this is a Mexican Spanish word, what is its meaning? Is it still being used in the slang context?

  • I could not find it but I heard a long time ago the song writer said in an interview that it refers to "marijuana buds". The last end of the marijuana joint.
    – DGaleano
    Sep 27, 2017 at 13:44
  • 1
    Comenta L. Ronquillo en el chat de SOes: sólo lo he escuchado de un señor muuy grande, que me decía que en sus tiempos si llego a dejar algunas colitas por ahí, no es muy común, o al menos yo no lo escucho, no consumo eso jajaja.
    – fedorqui
    Sep 28, 2017 at 6:01
  • cola, colita, claro, colilla
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2019 at 16:47
  • Ver aqui: colitas de cannabis: eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/periodismo-de-investigacion/2016/05/… I doubt it means that in the song. I'd go for the plant.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2019 at 16:53
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    @fedorqui - wrap their hair? Do you mean an elastic band? Or some kind of ribbon? I thought colita in the context of hair would mean the pony tail itself, the result of tying it up in an elastic band. // The connection with pegamento is because of a brand name (this is analogous to bandaid). Apr 29, 2019 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


According to the most voted answer to this very same question on Musicfans.SE, a "colita" is basically a joint (the marijuana kind):

The way I heard it, one of the guys on their road crew, who was Latino, told Henley and Frey that "colitas" meant "little buds" in Spanish. As in, marijuana buds. So, in that lyric they're describing driving down the highway smoking weed.

The comments even cite Wikipedia, which supports this interpretation among others:

The term "colitas" in the first stanza ("warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air") has been interpreted as a sexual slang or a reference to marijuana. "Colitas" means "little tails" in Spanish; in Mexican slang it refers to buds of the cannabis (marijuana) plant. According to Glenn Frey, the "warm smell" is "colitas...it means little tails, the very top of the plant." The Eagles' manager Irving Azoff appears to lend support to the marijuana hypothesis, however, Felder said: "The colitas is a plant that grows in the desert that blooms at night, and it has this kind of pungent, almost funky smell. Don Henley came up with a lot of the lyrics for that song, and he came up with colitas."

This theory might be supported in-song by the "experiences" they have later.

  • The Diccionario del Español Chicano doesn't have this sense among numerous other kinds of colas. Perhaps it is ultimately the DRAE's cola (1) 9. f. Apéndice prolongado que se une a algo. Nov 30, 2017 at 5:27
  • I really doubt colitas is sexual slang since the song mentions smell, desert and night. I would go for the plant. Neither the weed or sex thing works in context.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2019 at 16:54

I have always believed it referred to beef tail or ox tail soup or stew. You can still buy beef tail cut up in most markets

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    Hi, Welcome. Please check spanish.stackexchange.com/help Answers are better with references and more info. Also check if the info you are providing is already included on some other answers and if so just upvote them. When you get a few points reputation on the site you will be able to add comments too.
    – DGaleano
    Oct 4, 2019 at 18:07

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