Understanding the popular Mexican slang phrase: A Todo Dar

Examining Two Mexican Slang Expressions
A Todo Dar -versus- A Toda Madre

a toda madre

To understand the Spanish expression a todo dar, it’s important to also examine another common expression, a toda madre.

I’m posting a screenshot of a short exchange I had with a work friend of mine from Mexico. He had asked me to do him a favor, and was texting to see if I would agree:

¿Cómo ves?  / What do you think?

I told him it was fine, no hay problema.

And then what he wrote back left me scratching my head a little.

 ¡Eres a toda madre!

In the Curse Words episode, Paulina explained how Mexicans use the word madre a lot when they curse. And since the literal translation of the expression “eres a toda madre!” is something like, “you’re a full mother!” I was pretty sure I was being cursed at.

I called him up and asked him why he was so angry. We both had a good laugh after he explained that eres a toda madre is just an emphatic way to say “you’re the best.”

I asked Paulina about the expression a toda madre in our next meeting and she told me a little more about this common Mexican slang phrase. It’s definitely informal, it sounds unrefined but it’s not considered overly vulgar, and then she told me that it’s just a rougher version of the slang expression a todo dar.

A todo dar is a colloquial way to say that something or someone is really good, great, nice, awesome or the equivalent. It’s neither formal or informal and can be used in any situation without sounding overly slang or youthful. A toda madre has the same general meaning as a todo dar, it just sounds a little more like street language. And the exactly translation of each expression really depends a lot on the context and how someone is saying it.

Here are some examples to help illustrate the two phrases better:

A Todo Dar -vs- A Toda Madre

  • Gracias, eres a todo dar. – – – – – – – Thanks, you’re the best.
  • Gracias, eres a toda madre. – – – – – Thanks, you’re freaking awesome.
  • Nos la pasamos a todo dar. – – – – – – – We had a great time.
  • Nos la pasamos a toda madre. – – – – – We had a damn good time.
  • ¡La fiesta estuvo a todo dar! – – – – – – – The party was really great!
  • ¡La fiesta estuvo a toda madre! – – – – – -The party was off the hook!
  • Mi maestro de español es a todo dar. – – – – – – – – My Spanish teacher’s the best.
  • Mi maestro de español es a toda madre. – – – – – – My Spanish teacher’s the bomb.

The translations of both a todo dar and a toda madre are pretty fluid, but they both generally express “good/great/nice/etc.”

One of the other things that Paulina told us in the Curse Words episode was that we need to be careful with the word madre because Mexicans use it a lot when they want to roughen up different expressions. She said they call it mentar la madre (mentions the word madre), and when you hear it you can be pretty sure that someone’s swearing.

But with the slang phrase a toda madre, I think it’s safe to say that if someone from Mexico ever says to you, “eres a toda madre,” the appropriate response might just be “gracias.” 🙂 Ojalá que esto te ayude. Un abrazo, Michael