As most of you know by now, I am currently living in Santiago de Chile and have been for the past 4 months. By this time, I feel comfortable speaking on the phone at work and taking part in lunch time convos, but wasn’t really when I first got there!
That felt very frustrating, because I mean, I was just coming from 5 months in Argentina and thought, have I forgotten everything, or worst, learnt nothing? But I quickly understood that Chilean Spanish is really different from the Spanish I had heard so far, and it took a while to get used to it.
As most people won’t visit the country for as long me, I thought I’d compile a little dictionnary to help any of you guys visiting Chile understand more of what’s going on!
Chilean spanish is really special and this list is far from exhaustive, but I thought I would put the words I have heard the most to start with 🙂
Cachar: To understand. Used a lot when they’ll try to explain something to you, makes me think of “got it?”. Eg: “Cachai??”
Carretear/Carrete: To party – A party
Cuico/a: Posh, Upper-Class
Curarse – Curado/a: To get drunk – drunk
Flighter – Roto: Chav
Guagua: A baby
Huevón(a) OR Weón(a): Used in a lot of different contexts, but if it’s said between friends it means “mate” or “dude”. In a different context, not so nice, I’d translate it to “dumbo” I think.
Mino/Mina: A cute boy or girl. Used mostly in the context of going out and dating.
Po: This one, you’ll hear almost at the end of every sentence, it is really really common BUT it doesn’t really mean anything… It’s short for “pues” and is mostly use as punctuation. For example, a common one would be “si-po” or “no-po”, used and an answer to almost any question 😉
Pololear – Pololo/a: Really common too, the classic “novio/a” to refer to a boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t really work in Chile because this word is interpreted as fiancé. Instead the chileans use the verb pololear – which I personnally find quite funny – to refer to dating/being in a relationship and polola/pololo to mean girlfriend/boyfriend.
Fun fact: this isn’t slang, the word pololo is used in news title and “important” papers!
Pucha: Crap, Oops…
So, here’s a list of what a consider to be the most used “chilenismos”, but there are so many more; I still feel like I’m learning at least one a week!
Personally, I find it hard to actually use these words, I feel like I’d be pretending to speak in a way that really isn’t natural to me, but they’re really useful to know for any conversation with a native Chilean. Do you think you would use them?
Hope you guys will enjoy this article and find it useful if you ever come here. My Chiloe trip is coming in 2 weeks and I couldn’t be more excited! In the meantime I shared photos of snowy Santiago and the beautiful sunset from last week to keep you waiting! xx