Your Ultimate Guide to Chilean Slang
Are you planning to visit Chile and would like to learn some useful words and phrases of Chilean slang?
Or perhaps you’re just interested in Chilean culture or in growing your Spanish vocabulary.
Whatever your goal may be, you’ve come to the right place!
In today’s post, I give you a brief overview of Chilean slang, and why you should learn it. Then, I introduce you to the most common and useful words and phrases of the slang spoken in this South American country.
Chilean Slang Overview
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, slang is “very informal language that is usually spoken rather than written, used especially by particular groups of people.” In this case, that particular group is the Chilean people.
Chile is a big and diverse country that extends from the Andes in the north, and all the way to Patagonia in the south. It’s just normal that the people living in this huge territory have come up with some words and phrases that are unique to them, and that we know as Chilean slang.
Learn more about this country: A Beginner’s Guide to Chile
Why You Should Learn It
The first reason to learn Chilean slang is if you’re planning to travel to Chile. Learning some of their most common words and expressions will be useful to understand what Chilean people are saying.
However, you don’t only learn a language to prepare for a hypothetical trip in the future. Learning Spanish entails learning all kinds of vocabulary, including specific terms from different areas of life or slangs from the different countries and regions where the language is spoken.
Chilean Slang Words and Phrases
Without further ado, let’s start learning some useful Chilean slang words and phrases.
Bacán / Filete
You can say any of these two words to express that something is “cool” or “awesome.” Bacán is one of the most common words of Chilean slang, and it’s definitely related to the Colombian “bacano” also used in the same context. Filete, on the other hand, is less popular, but using it will show that you really know your way around Chilean slang.
Ese carro está bacán.
That car is cool.
La última película de James Bond está filete.
The last James Bond movie is awesome.
If something is boring you to death, Chileans say that it’s fome.
¡Qué fome esta película!
How boring is this movie!
This is a cool expression that literally translates as “to give a ball.” However, its real meaning has nothing to do with ball games, dar pelota means to pay attention to something or someone.
Mi papá no me da pelota.
My dad doesn’t pay attention to me.
Another interesting expression of Chilean slang which in this case means that someone is talking nonsense. If translated literally it would mean “to give juice.” Sometimes I wonder how these expressions evolved to mean what they mean today.
El profesor de español está dando jugo.
The Spanish teacher is talking nonsense.
In Chile, pega means “work” or “job.”
Me voy para la pega.
I go to work.
I like this word because it has a logical explanation, well, kind of. The verb cachar is a derivation from the English verb “to catch,” but in Chile (and other Latin American countries) is used as a synonym of understanding. So, when a Chilean asks you if you ¿cachai? They’re asking if you understand them.
Pololo / Polola
These two terms of Chilean slang mean “boyfriend” (pololo) and “girlfriend (polola). You may also hear the verb pololear, which would mean that a couple is dating.
María es mi polola.
Maria is my girlfriend.
Esos dos ya llevan tiempo pololeando.
Those two have some time dating.
Tincar is a verb that means “to have a hunch,” “to guess.”
Me tinca que vamos a llegar tarde.
I guess we’ll be late.
Cuico / Cuica
A Chilean slang pair of words used to say that someone is rich. Cuico for males, cuica for females.
Bill Gates es un cuico.
Bill Gates is rich.
Huevón / Huevona
Everytime I write a post about slang, my editor politely requests that I keep the list of slang terms G rated, or appropriate for all ages and audiences. This rule sometimes gets me in trouble, as some of the most colorful and interesting slang words are bad words.
For example, huevón and huevona. These are the two most commonly used words of Chilean slang, which makes it impossible to leave them off the list. They’re used in many different contexts, and can mean many different things—some of them positive, such as “friend” or “dude,” while others not so much, such as “idiot” or “stupid.”
They’re usually pronounced very quickly and sound more like weon or weona.
¡Vamos a la fiesta huevón!
Let’s go to the party dude!
Talking about parties, a carrete is a party. It also works as a verb, as carretear means “to party.”
¡Vamos al carrete huevón!
Let’s go to the party dude!
Tengo que estudiar, ya habrá tiempo para carretear.
I have to study now, there will be time to party later.
Caleta is a Chilean slang word that means “a lot.”
Tengo caleta de trabajo.
I have a lot of work.
In Chilean slang, pasarlo chancho means “to have fun.”
El domingo pasado lo pasamos chancho en el parque.
Last Sunday, we had fun in the park.
This word simply means “baby.”
Mi guagua es hermoso.
My baby is beautiful.
If guagua was a baby, lolo is a teenager.
Carlos ya casi es un lolo.
Carlos is almost a teenager.
Practice Your Chilean Slang
If practice is needed to master every new piece of vocabulary, with slang this is even more important. Why? Because, unless you’re in Chile, it’s going to be hard to hear these Chilean slang words. So, the only way to really learn them is to use them in real-life conversations, and apply what you’ve just learned.
Sign up for a free class to practice Spanish with certified native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala, and start using your Chilean slang words today!
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