This isn’t exactly a slang term, but it’s a lot more common than its dictionary form would suggest. Strictly speaking, “un pleito” is a lawsuit or a legal action against another person. In many Latin American countries, however, the term describes any sort of confrontation or fight between two people. I once heard it defined it as “tener broncas con alguien”.

“Pleitos” can be physical fights, heated arguments or periods in which two people simply aren’t speaking. The underlying emotion is anger or rabia. Here are some contextual examples, taken from real life conversations:

  • “Ni­ños, ¡Basta de pleitos! No aguanto tanto relajo…” (“relajo” = alboroto, lío, escándolo)
  • “No quiero que nuestro matrimonio se convierta en motivo de pleito entre mi madre y tú”
  • “Ese muchacho es muy peleonero- siempre anda buscando el pleito”

A person always looking to pick a fight is called a “buscapleitos”. Someone who’s in a fighting mood or actively engaged in a dispute “anda de pleito” or “está de pleito”.

A Mexican version of this word is “mitote”. This word comes from Aztec legends and, while its colloquial meaning has developed in more recent times, it still refers to dances or rituals performed by the ancients. You’ll hear it today in the sense of “pleito” or, in some instances, “bulla” or “alboroto”. Next week, I’ll reveal the fascinating origin of this word, which diverges considerably from its modern usage.

Meanwhile, “¡Qué tu año nuevo sea libre de pleitos y mitotes! Felices fiestas…”


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