Like most Latin American countries where Spanish is spoken (all apart from Brasil), the variety of Spanish in Chile is different to that found in Spain. Chileans have a way with words and some would say a different way of expressing their thoughts. A slang has developed that is forever evolving, more so with each new generation. So ‘Chilenismos’ as you might call them build up over time with more and more included in the national vocabulary.

Here are some examples of what we mean!

So, to say “Que plancha!” literally translates as “What an iron” but it really means “How embarrasing!” Or, “Estoy pato”, translated literally means “I am a duck” but of course the real meaning is somewhat different. It means “I have no money” or “I’m skint!”.

These slang terms and phrases bring a bit of colour to Chilean language and arguably give an extra identity to Chilean people.
It might be that some Chileans use it to sound cool but really it’s part of the Chilean DNA, encrypted in the culture.

Here’s a few Chilenismos to get you started!

Chilenismo Translation Real meaning
Avispate wasp yourself wake up!
Salta pa’l lado jump to the other side come off it! (I don’t believe it)
Cachai? To catch to understand
Mermelada(o) jam stupid
Eres seco para algo you are dry for something you are the best at doing something
A donde la viste?! where did you see that? no way!
Agarrar papa grab a potato to take advantage of a situation
Huevon big egg idiot, or friend, depending on the context.
Al tiro To pull straight away
Creerse la muerte he thinks he is death he loves himself
Tiene cueva he has a cave he is lucky
Dejar la escoba to leave a broom to make a mess
Buena onda a good wave (sea) great stuff, cool.
No estar ni ahi I am not even there I don’t care
Ohh esta peluda la prueba the test is hairy the test is really difficult
Péscame fish me listen to me
Eres pesado you are heavy you are being a nuisance
Te fuiste al chancho you went to the pig you are being ludicrous, unrealistic
Echar al agua to chuck some water he let the cat out of the bag
Mala/buena cueva a bad/good cave bad/good luck!
arreglarse los bigotes to sort out your moustache to have already arranged a deal in secret
Mina/o mine (as in gold) good looking woman/men
Te voy a subir y bajar I’m going to take you up and down  I am really going to tell you off
Dedos crespos curly fingers being unhelpful
Sacar la cresta to pull the crest/comb I am goint to kill you
que papa what a potato really easy
picado/a chopped spiteful
Patas negras black feet a lover
Córtala! to cut it cut it out!
Marca chancho a piggy label a no name label (clothes, shoes, etc)
Eres paracaidista you are a parachutist a gate crasher

If you are insterested in lerning more “chilenismos” Prof.  Jaime Campusano has written a book about it!


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