Molar is a basic verb in colloquial Spanish. In its basic usage, it means “to like”, and as gustar, the subject is the likee, while the indirect object is the liker:
Me mola tu idea de ir a patinar.
I like your idea of going skating.
No le mola nada que le toquen sus plantas.
S/he doesn’t like at all people touching his/her plants.
¿Te molan los Rolling Stones?
Do you like the Rolling Stones?
In absence of liker, you can assume the likee takes a value of being universally liked. In this usage, the meaning is closer to “being good”, “being cool” or “rocking”:
Cenar galletas mola mucho.
Having cookies for dinner rocks.
La segunda y tercera son malísimas, pero la primera de Matrix mola bastante.
The second and third [part] are very bad, but the first Matrix film is very good.
No mola que aún no te haya llamado.
It’s not cool that s/he hasn’t called you yet.
– Pues el finde me voy a la playa al final.
– Oh, mola.
– So finally I’m going to the beach this weekend.
– Oh, that’s cool.
As proof of the ubiquitous presence of this word, until 2009 or so, Facebook used molar instead of gustar on photos, status, and so on. So instead of saying, as it does now:
A Susana Martínez y 4 personas más les gusta esto.
A Susana Martínez y 4 personas más les mola esto.
They eventually changed it to homogenize the brand and for marketing reasons.
I’ll leave you all with a common joke. Emilio Mola was a prominent General in the army back in the 30s, who led the coup d’état against the Second Republic that ignited the civil war and gave way to Franco’s regime. During the dictatorship, it was very common for a city to have a street named after him. So the joke goes:
Un turista se pierde y se acerca a preguntar a un viandante:
– Disculpe, ¿General Mola?
– Sí, pero mola más capitán.
Let me know in the comments if you got it 🙂
Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.