Wait, they speak Spanish in Chile... right? Well, they do, but Chileans speak a very specific dialect of Spanish. It’s fast-paced, full of slang and they cut the “s” off the end of each word.
I moved to Chile with minimal Spanish and knew absolutely nothing about the Chilean dialect. It’s fair to say, I was a little lost when I arrived. But fast-forward three years and I am proud to say that I finally understand (most of the time)! I now feel pretty well versed in both Spanish and my Chilenismos (Chilean Slang) and decided to put together this A-Z guide to help you! Here are some of the most important words in the Chilean dictionary:
WARNING: Don’t use these words in any other Spanish speaking country...nobody will understand you.
Al Tiro - Another way to say “right now”
Bacán - Cool, awesome, amazing!
Cabro- A goat...and also another way to say boy
Cachai? - An informal way to say “do you understand?” Equivalent to “got it?” or “ya know?”
Caleta - A lot of something!
Carrete - Another way to say “fiesta” or party
Chancho - Pig
Chela - A cold one. Beer!
Copete - Mixed drink or cocktail
Gallo - It actually means “rooster” in Spanish, but in Chile, it can also mean a young man
Filete - Not steak. It actually means something that is awesome
Fonda - A traditional Chilean party, commonly seen during Fiestas Patrias, Chile’s independence celebration
Guagua - The Chilean way to say baby
Guata - Belly or tummy
Harto - The same as “caleta,” meaning a lot of something
Lata - In Spanish it means a can, but in Chile it also means something lame or boring
Luca - Refers to 1,000 Chilean pesos
Micro - The local buses
Paco - Police
Palta - Avocado. You can also say "palta" in Argentina
Piola - Average...not great, not horrible...just piola
Po - This isn’t really a word with any well-defined meaning, but Chileans use it at the end of a phrase or sentence for emphasis. Vamos ahora po!
Pololo/ Polola - Boyfriend/girlfriend
Polera - T-shirt
Polerón - Sweatshirt
Qué Choro! - How cool!
Qué Crack! - Also...How cool (but specifically when referring to a person)!
Qué Fome! - How boring!
Queque - Sweet bread
Regalón/Regalona - Someone who likes to receive attention or love. It’s like someone who is spoiled...but in a positive way. The word doesn’t really exist in English.
Seca - Someone who is really good at something. Ella es seca en fútbol = She is amazing at football.
Taco - Not just a Mexican snack...it also means high heeled shoes or a traffic jam
Talla - Joke
Tela - Friendly, good vibe
Tuto - To be tired or sleepy
(Hacer una) Vaca - Una vaca means “a cow” and hacer means “to make.” To make a cow? Didn’t make sense to me either. But in Chile this refers to collecting money for something that everyone will enjoy together. For example, we all want to buy a pizza --- hacemos una vaca (we will all chip in).
Weón - Probably the most common word in the Chilean dictionary. The meaning changes based on the way it is said. It can mean friend, dude or jerk -- depending on the situation.
Wuena - This isn’t really an official Chilean slang word, but it is how everyone seems to pronounce the word “buena” (good). There is a strong “w” sound in place of the “b”
Ya’po - A common way Chileans agree to something. It is their way to say yes or sí.
The list could really go on and on, but these are a few of the basics. So now that you are all thoroughly confused, I can happily reassure you that there are also a lot of English speakers in Chile. Travel guides and many locals speak English and are always happy to help. Although it is always fun and respectful to embrace the local culture and try to learn a bit of the language. Nos vemos en Chile!