Kicking Dogs: Angry Chileans

Chilensis tends to get most exciting when people are really angry.  Nothing quite beats counting how many times the neighbors use a form of “huevón” when they’re yelling at each other.

But today, we’re just going to cover some basic ways to point out that someone is angry.

Estar chato

Or estar harto: to be fed up.  When I say I’m chata, it means I’m on the verge of getting pissed.  You will often hear people say that certain things or people “have” them chato or harto.

Estos trámites me tienen chato.  (This paper work is pissing me off.)


Ticked off.  This is a little less angry than cabreado, which is used frequently in Chile, but I guess it’s also used in Spain, so I’m officially leaving it out.  Regardless, the little boy in the video below gives a fantastic performance of choreado


While this can also mean “en pelota” or “butt naked,” in certain contexts it means really angry.  Or, in the case of this father who protested the high costs of education while naked, it means both.


Girlfriend throws him a surprise party; he gets pissed because she hides things from him

In normal Spanish, emputecer is to prostitute oneself.  In Chile, it means to get really angry.  I mean beside yourself, fuming angry.

How or why it made the transition, I’m not sure.  Our best guess is that when angry, you might run about saying puta a whole lot.  Any other guesses?

Andar pateando la perra

Jorge Sampaoli anda pateando la perra

You know when you’re so angry you just want to kick a dog?  Specifically a female dog?  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kick a dog… but I know what it’s like to be so miffed that I’m walking around kicking at the air and muttering under my breath.

Jorge Sampaoli, the coach for Chile’s national soccer team, is pictured to the right, kicking a dog after Chile and Spain tie during overtime.

That’s it for today, folks!  Have a good weekend, keep calm, and don’t kick dogs.


Chilenismos and Holiday Decorations

It might surprise you to know that even though it’s summer here in Chile, they are going to go ahead and celebrate Christmas anyway.  It certainly surprised me.  That’s the true Christmas spirit: overcome all obstacles for a little holiday cheer.  It’s heroic, really.

I love the fake snow.

I love the fake snow.

They don’t even try to cushion the blow.  In fact, Santas are still dressed in ridiculous North Pole suits, and “White Christmas” is still heard jovially in the streets.  In Spanish.  (It’s not like they don’t know what “blanca navidad” is about.)  My mother-in-law even told me it didn’t seem strange to her!  Poor soul.

The Christmas trees are up in offices, houses, malls, and the streets.  Poinsettias and wreaths hang from the lampposts.  Some people have even put out inflatable snowmen and reindeer in their front yards.

I just can’t get over it.

Halloween aND Christmas??This has all been more ridiculous considering Chileans have been milking it since October.  OCTOBER.  They don’t have Thanksgiving to break it up, so… why not set the Christmas stuff next to the Halloween stuff?

More interesting, however, is the amount of gringo culture reflected in these celebrations and decorations.  But I’ll talk about cultural transfer another day.  Let’s get to the chilenismos.


This word is how Chileans say navidad or Christmas.  Kind of.  Because it’s also the word for Easter and Passover (you know, from the Hebrew pesach/פסח).  And Easter Island, which is part of Chile, is called Isla de Pascua.  Anyhow, here are some other things that contain pascua.

El Viejito Pascuero

Surfing SantaSanta Claus is known by many names all over the world, but Chile is the only place to affectionately call him “the little old Christmas man.”  The men who dress up as el viejo pascuero here really have hearts of gold—I mean, apart from systematically lying to children—it’s way too hot to be wearing that suit!

Pan de Pascua

image from kaminokultural.blogspot

A traditional bread that resembles fruitcake… but it’s generally more revered in Chile than fruitcakes are in the US.  Also, if someone has a ton of acne, you might mention that their face looks like pan de pascua.  If you were a jerk.

Cola de Mono

Monkey’s tail!  This is like a Chilean version of eggnog… Except it has milk, coffee, sugar, spices, and aguardiente (firewater! or “alcohol prepared with local ingredients”).  No, it doesn’t include monkeys, but there are some interesting theories about how the drink got its name.

Cola de mono is a very traditional Christmas drink, and if you’re interested in making a glass or two to go along with your pan de pascua, check out the cooking show below on how to make both.


Knowing that this word comes from engañar, which means “to decieve,” you might not think you would like to receive an engañito.  But it’s actually the Chilean word for a little gift that may not be worth too much money, but it’s an expression of love and caring for the other person nevertheless.

It’s like saying, “Here, I got you a little something for your birthday.  It’s nothing big…”

It could be something that didn’t cost the other person much.  For example, we have some wonderful tíos who came to our Vermont wedding and bought us little souvenirs from the locale.  They told Edwin to give them to me for our first anniversary.  That’s an engañito—it probably only cost them a couple bucks, but it was really special.

Happy holidays to all!

What’s your favorite holiday phrase?  Any chilenismos that I missed?

¡!Chilenismos: Dumb and Dumber

You need today’s lesson in Chilenismos for two reasons: to know when you’re doing something a Chilean deems stupid, and to describe everything about your teenage self.

Basically, these are the words to enjoy whenever you spend an evening reading the latest Darwin awards.


Coming from arguably the most typical Chilenismo out there (huevón, for those of you who are really gil), this is the equivalent of “dumb@$$.”  It can be said under your breath with a hopeless shake of the head… or very angrily at soccer games.  You’ll notice that, as with huevón, the spelling varies quite a bit.


Check out the root of this word: mermelada, or jam.  Now imagine the movement of the sticky mush that is jam… that’s you.  So sloooooooow and stuuuupid.  Again, it’s not nice to say this.


Asopado’s root is sopa, or “soup.”  But this word gives the feeling you have soup instead of brains.  For example, everything about Napoleon Dynamite makes him look asopado.  Blank stare, mouth open, maybe even a little drool coming out of the corner of your mouth…. It’s like:

“Hey, soup for brains!  Anyone in there??”


This is stronger than the food comparisons.  Calling someone gil is like calling them an idiot or worse.  I mean, some people are clueless and harmless like Napoleon, and some people are jerks on top of being stupid.  That’s agilado for you.  (Seriously, make out on your own car.)


Okay, this is yet another play on huevón or huevada.  I’m sorry, but there are a lot of them.  This kind of makes it sound like the dude’s name is huevón.

“Stupid?  Stupid’s my middle name.”

Use them wisely, friends.

Are there any I missed?

*Thanks to Mauricio for suggesting güeastancio!  I promise to stop calling you that…

Not too Shabby: Chilenismos of Quality

“Poor quality” has never been easier to say.  Chileans have various incredibly common words to describe things that are shoddy, sub-par, or of inferior quality.  And frankly, after a trip to the registro civil, you’ll understand why.


Something that is irreparably poor quality.  When a situation is flat-out sucky, penca is the most commonly used description.  This has long been one of my favorite chilenismos (as demonstrated in the stories here).  Careful, in true Chilean form, this word can also mean a certain male organ.


Chinese knock offs and professors who watch Naruto instead of teaching their classes are things that first come to mind with the word chanta.


A perfect word for overpriced knock offs is mula.  These are objects that scream YOU GOT SWINDLED.  That mula dress you bought yesterday cost you seventy bucks, and it’s already falling apart, for example.

charcha chilenismosCharcha:

Purely poor quality.  Something that’s really cheap and probably breaks really easily.  For example, according to Edwin, my father-in-law always buys charcha tools that break after one or two uses.  (When asked how to describe Miley Cyrus, I would say charcha, among other things.)  It comes from an indigenous word that means “deficient.”


Consider that this word comes from the verb “scratch”… and then imagine the dirtiest, scratchiest, shabbiest thing you can.  That’s rasca.  Like a mangy mutt.  Look up the meaning of “mange” and you’ll get it.


Peliento is like rasca, but it’s a little sadder.  Like, if you see a street dog that on top of being mangy is limping and listless, that’s kind of like peliento.  It comes from a word meaning vagabond.


Something that’s ghetto, but not in a good way.  It could be something so flashy it’s tacky or looks like bad taste.  It could be the duct tape holding together the frame of your car.  It could be the insanely loud reggaeton music shaking your neighbor’s house.  But mostly, it’s a kind of person, according to wikipedia, an “urban youth of low socioeconomic background.”

And finally, a word to describe something of excellent quality:


A big old sirloin steak… that is the definition of top-notch for many people.  For example:

¿Has leído el blog de la pelirroja peligrosa?  Es filete.

Keep in mind that puro filete is something you might hear as a piropo… because seeing women as a piece of meat is always a flattering thing.

Still looking for more words?  Look up some of these: punga, cuma, picante.

Chile, that’s not the imperative.

Remember all those years you struggled to memorize the irregular imperative verbs?  You know, verbs like hacer, which doesn’t become hace but rather haz.  Or ir, which turns into ve?

Sorry, but you’re in Chile now.  And you’ll have to relearn all of that.

Sneaky shadow vowels?

At first, I thought I was just hearing shadow vowels or some form of over-articulation.  Chileans seemed to be adding an ‘e’ at the end of certain commands.

But after enough observation and internet interactions, I learned that Chileans actually use a different form of the imperative for several verbs, namely, hacerponer, and salir.  

And by different, I mean they do exactly what you took years trying to undo: they go to the third person singular.

ponele likePone:

We all know poner should become pon in the imperative.  But in Chile, it is normal to hear something like, “Pónele un poquito más de sal.” (Put some more salt on it.)


¡Pónele weno!  (Which is like ¡Hazlo con ganas!  Or, “Do it like you mean it!”)


Imperative: you're doing it wrongHacer usually is haz as a command.  (So many years of practice down the drain.)  I think I’ll skip the explanation and go to the memes, because there’s basically nothing to say except Y U NO IMPERATIVE???


Refer to the following meme.  I know this isn’t a good application of the meme, but it illustrates three interesting uses of Chilean imperative.

First, the author used sale instead of sal

Second, you’ll notice that the above image uses anda to say “go” in the imperative, as opposed to using ve or vete.  This is very typical in Chilean Spanish, and ve is basically only used as the imperative of ver.

BONUS!  Sálete??  Why “te”?  This is not a reflexive verb here, right?  What is that reflexive pronoun doing in there?  

In Chile, I’ve noted that people often tag on a ‘te’ when making commands to add emphasis.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, Chileans!)  For example, if you want your child to sit down and eat his food, you might exclaim, “¡Cómetelo!” (Eat it!)

The English equivalent might be the “Do” in a command like, “Do stay for dinner!”

In summary…

Listen to the puppy:

!¡ Pico ≠ Beak; it’s less innocent than it seems

In other countries, pico usually means beak, pick (as in an ice pick), and peak (as in mountain peak).  So what does it mean in Chile?

  • Pico: You may have guessed it… pico means penis.  As do many other Chilean words.  So many.
  • Como el pico: This means something went terribly.  For example: “¿Cómo te fue en la prueba?”  “Como el pico.”  You’re literally telling someone your test went “like dick.”
  • La hora del pico:  The hour of the penis = really late at night.  As an English equivalent for “I arrived late last night,” I might say, “I got home at shlong o’clock.”  (Llegué a la hora del pico.)
  • El día del pico:  A day so far in the future that you might as well say never.  Like “I’ll call her back when pigs fly”… or the day of the D.
  • Hacer propaganda al pico:  This is a really uncouth way of saying someone is pregnant.  Please, never use it.  It means that she is spreading propaganda for the ol’ one eye.  It’s a tasteless expression… sorry I’ve sunk so low.

If you’re not sure what “ir rajao” means, check out my post “Let the Bullets Fly: Speed in Chilenismos.”

So there you have it, kids.  A smutty post all for your degradation and enjoyment.

Mapuche Chilenismos: How to Confuse Dominican Preschoolers

Mapuche ancestral territory

Continuing with this week’s theme of heritage, today’s post introduces a few words the Chilean lexicon has adopted from Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche people.

The word Mapuche means literally the people (che) of the land (mapu), and the Mapuche are the largest indigenous group in Chile.

There are many choice, and so I’ve narrowed today’s selection to some words that thoroughly confused my preschool class of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Guatemalans back when I was in the States.

1.  Guata*: barriga, stomach.  This is an incredibly common word.

Seeing that a student is crying and holding his stomach, I ask, “¿Te duele la guata?”  (Does your stomach hurt?)

He responds, “¡No, me duele la barriga!” and proceeds to throw up numerous times.

2.  Cuncuna: oruga, caterpillar.  I often sang the well known Chilean children’s song, “Una Cuncuna Amarilla” (below), to my students, and I was surprised at how many didn’t know the word cuncuna.  Turns out it’s a word from Mapudungun.  Thanks, Chile.

3.  Guagua*: bebé, baby.  Ok, so in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, guagua means bus.  In preschool, we talk about both babies and buses a lot.  Imagine the confusion.

Me: ¿Tienes una guagua en casa?  (Do you have a baby at home?)

Student: No.  Tenemos un carro.  (No.  We have a car.)

4.  Cahuín: chisme, gossip.  This is one of my favorite Chilenismos.  A cahuín was a celebratory meeting of Mapuche leaders and chiefs in which they discussed the current state of affairs.  Later, it became known more for the drunkenness of such events, and where there’s drunkenness, there’s gossip.

During recess a child runs up to me: Teacher!  Roberto está diciendo que yo me quiero casar con Amanda.  (Teacher!  Robert is saying that I want to marry Amanda.)

Me: ¿A ver, Roberto?  ¿Andas cahuineando?  (What’s this, Roberto?  Are you gossiping?)

5.  Pichintúnpoquito, little bit.  This word is related to the word pichi, which means “little.”  This is also the reason that people say they need to hacer pichi; it’s not just a funny way of saying pipi.  They’re saying they need to “go a little” instead of saying “go pee.”

Me, giving instructions: Sólo tienes que usar un pichintún de pegamento. [Giggles.]  (You only need to use a little bit of glue.)

There are many other Mapudungun adoptions to explore, but we’ll leave those for another post.  Have a good weekend, everyone!

* These words are similar to quechua words for the same thing.

Mapuche flag