chilean slang terms

They call them Chilenismos — terms that Chileans know that the rest of the world doesn’t.

This article is part of our Spanish slang guides, a collection of basic slang for different Spanish-speaking countries.

Chilean slang terms are catchy phrases, quick hits, and old stand-by sayings, or flirtatious expressions or other figures of speech are usually regarded as an informal way of communication among people who either know each other well — and sometimes by people who aren’t very fond of one another.

Even though it is more common to see slang in spoken language it does appear in written word, among younger generations.

If you’re traveling to Chile, understand these common Chilean slang terms before you go to add a dose of humor to your conversations on the ground.

Chilean Slang Terms

Gallo/a

This is a very common word in Chile referring to a dude or chick. It is not necessarily positive or negative, and is only used in casual conversation.

For example:

Conocí a ese gallo anoche en el teatro. — I met that guy last night at the theatre.

Huevón

A similar term, though it can be used in a more negative sense. Another common term that essentially means the same thing is Weón / Weóna.

For example:

Ese Huevón me parece turbio. No entiendo lo que está haciendo aquí. — That guys seems shady to me. I don’t understand what he’s doing here.

Chachai

Chachai is a quick way of asking someone whether they got what they were saying or what has just happened. You might hear it in restaurants when ordering, when someone explains something to you, or if someone you are with missed something and wants to know if you understood it.

For example:

¿Chachai gallo? — Did you get that, man?

Pololo/a

This is Chilean slang for boyfriend or girlfriend, in a formal sense — meaning you are actually dating the person.

For example:

Vine aqui con mi polola. — I came here with my girlfriend.

Fome

What you may use as an excuse if you didn’t “chachai”. It means boring, lame, or not worthy of your time.

For example:

Este lugar es fome. — This place is boring.

Ando Pato

What you might find yourself saying after an expensive day of touring or a night out on the town. Ando Pato is Chilean for “I don’t have any money right now.”

For example:

No puedo ir al juego. Ando Pato. — I can’t go to the game. I don’t have the money right now!

Caleta

This word is a quick way to say “a lot.” It can be both positive or negative, as shown in the examples below:

Habia caleta de mesas en el cuarto. — There were too many tables in the room.

Yo tengo caleta dinero este semana. — I have so much money this week.

Carretear

Many English speakers are familiar with the term “fiesta” for party in Spanish. But in Chile, if you really want to have a good time, you want to go to a “carrete” and while you’re there, you want to “carreteo.”

For example:

Quiero carretear esta noche. — I want to party tonight.

¿Vendrás a mi carrete? — Will you come to my party?

Copete

At the party, you may wish to indulge in a copete, a term used to refer to an adult beverage. Not necessarily a beer or shot, but any kind — it’s an all-encompassing term.

For example:

¡You quiero un copete, amigo! — I’d like a drink, buddy!

Curado

Curado is what happens when you have too many copetes. You’re hammered, amigo!

For example:

No mas copetes para él, está curado. — No more drinks for him, he is hammered.

Bacán

Bacán is Chilean slang for “cool.” You’ll hear it everywhere when in social situations with millennials and Gen-x’ers.

For example:

¡Bacán! ¡Esto es genial! — Cool! This is so awesome!

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Dar pelota

This is what happens when someone is curado or has no idea what they are talking about (which is essentially what it means). Chileans use this phrase to refer to someone who doesn’t make any sense, or who is coming across as crazy because of what they are saying.

For example:

Está dar pelota, ha tomado demasiadas copetes. — He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, he’s had too many drinks.

Flaite

Flaite means rough around the edges, tacky, or otherwise not pleasant. To continue our stream from above, a bar that overserves people could be considered “flaite.”

For example:

No me gusta este lugar. Creo que es de flaite. — I don’t like this place. I think it is unpleasant.

¡Andate a la chucha!

This phrase is Chilean for “Go to hell!” You’ll hear it in arguments between friends, between colleagues, or when someone is looking to put an immediate end to a conversation.

For example:

¡Andate a la chucha Ronald! ¡No tienes idea de lo que estás hablando! — Go to hell Ronald! You have no idea what you’re talking about!

Buena onda

Being known as una buena onda is a good thing in Chile. It means you are a top-quality person, someone who is nice and enjoyable to be around. Chileans often use this phrase to describe someone whom they’ve recently met or gotten to know on a closer level.

For example:

Maria es una buena onda! Maria is a good person!

Cuico/a

This word refers, in a negative light, to a rich or spoiled person. Generally, it is not good to be described as a cuico.

For example:

Esta ciudad esta llena de cuicos. Ya no es bueno. — This town is full of rich people. It’s no good anymore.

Move beyond Chilean slang terms

If you are looking to expand your Spanish vocabulary beyond Chilean slang terms and learn more about how to talk like a true local, start with our Spanish Survival Crash Course.

Every day for six days, we’ll send e-books and audio files to your inbox to help you build a basic foundation for the language, all for FREE!

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