Spanish Language Blog

Chilean Spanish Posted by on Jan 7, 2012 in Spanish Vocabulary

I started learning Spanish in 1991 with two friends from high school, Ximena and Ivo. They were from Chile. They had been living in my town for some time and I was amazed that at home they spoke Spanish and in other situations they would speak Portuguese, perfectly!

That got me very interested in learning Spanish so they taught me the basics with lots of Chilean expressions. So today I’m going to share some of them with you guys!

Al tiro – Right away! This is a very common expression in Chile and it refers to the shot fired to initiate a race. Hazlo al tiro que lo necesitamos para ahora. (Do it right away because we need it now!)

Bencina – gasoline. We also have the word bencinera, gas station.

Cabro(a) – Literally it’s a goat, but this word is used to mean kids, boy or a girl. When they’re little, they say cabro(a) chico(a).

¿Cachai? – Got it? Ths expressions comes from the verb cachar, to get it, to understand. Here are some examples with cachar: Cáchate eso. (Check this out.) – Cacha lo que estoy haciendo. (Look at what I’m doing.)

Cahuín – gossip. Also called copucha.

Chupar – literally “to suck” but it’s used to go on a drinking binge. Usually used in the expressions salir a chupar.

Gallo – a guy. There’s also the feminine form, galla (a young woman).

Guagua – a baby

Guata – the belly

Lolo(a) – a teenager or young adult

Mechón – freshman in college going through the hazing process

Palta – avocado

Pega – work. ¿Tenís pega pa’ mí? (Do you have work for me?) – Voy a la pega. (I’m going to work.)

Pituco – Derogatory term used to refer to someone or something from the highest social class.

Porotos – beans

Pololo(a) – boy(girl)friend

Regalón – a spoiled child or student

Ya – Literally it means “already” or “still” but Chileans use it to say “yeah”, “yes”.

Chilean Spanish has so many more cool informal expressions like the ones above. HBO has a very good show with Chilean actors called Prófugos. Check your TV listings to see if it’s available and enjoy!

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. Ksenia:

    A wonderful set of words and expressions, thank you! It was most interesting!
    Unfortunately, no way to use it since I’m not in Chile(

  2. Corinne:

    Love to see other fans of chilenismos…a few more to enjoy for u all:
    Choclo: corn
    Chela: beer
    Carrete: a party (also carretear can be used as the verb to party, as in really go for it)
    Flaite: derogatory term for trashy/trying to be upperclass (like fresa is used in Mexico city)

    ¡Viva Chile po!
    Po: no true meaning but use as a space saver or an add-on- ‘sipo’ instead of jus ‘si’

    • Adir:

      @Corinne Hi, Corinne! There are a lot more but for space reasons it’s not possible to put all of them here, but I’m glad you also like the chilenismos.