“¿Cachai?” or “¿No cachai?” Chilenismos in English
Piola, al tiro, fome….what?! When I first moved to Chile in 2018, I thought my Spanish was pretty good but I had no idea that I would have such a hard time understanding all of the Chilenismos. I never considered the fact that Chileans have a lot of expressions that are difficult for foreigners to comprehend.
I have to admit, Chilean expressions have been a challenge for me but I’ve loved every minute of it since I've gotten to meet so many Chileans who are really passionate about their country and teaching an outsider, like myself, about their language and culture.
Read on if you want to learn some of the Chilean expressions in English that I’ve learned over the years!
Mano de guagua: A person who is cheap is called stingy or a cheapskate, tightwad, or penny-pincher.
He regretted being stingy when he didn’t buy the insurance for his rental car after he got in a crash.
Taco: refers to a traffic jam, gridlock, or congestion
There’s rush hour traffic after five o’clock so I try not to drive home at that time in order to avoid the gridlock.
Pololear: Dating or seeing someone. Actively pursuing someone with the intention of being together as a couple or in a romantic relationship.
We’ve been dating for six months and it’s going well so far.
Pajaron o pajarona: Someone who is a space cadet or is spacey, absent-minded, forgetful, or distracted
I felt like such a space cadet the other day when I couldn’t remember your brother’s name.
Si, po (de la palabra “pues”): to add emphasis when speaking or use as a filler
Si, po = yup, yep or sure
No, po = nope or nah
Ya, po = okay
Piola: chill, laidback, mellow, or relaxing
Let’s get out of town and go to the beach to disconnect and have a chill weekend.
Echar la foca: to insult someone, to tell somebody off, to challenge someone, to rip into someone, to scold someone
She finally had to tell him off because he wouldn’t stop harassing her and her friends at the pub.
Hacer perro muerto: dine and dash
I’ve only dined and dashed once in my life and it was when I was fifteen years old.
Pasarlo chanco: Have fun, a blast, or a ball
We had a blast at my best friend’s wedding last weekend!
Mojarse el potito: to be bold, daring, courageous, assertive or to take risks
If you don’t take risks, you’ll never accomplish anything in life.
Al tiro: immediately, right now, right away
We told him we were coming over to his house right now.
¿Cachai? Do you get it? Do you understand? Got it?
I asked her if she understood what I was saying and she looked at me like I was crazy.
Fome: boring, lame, or dull
Let’s not go to the party 'cause it’s gonna be super lame.
Carretear: to party
Many of us had a moment in our lives of partying every weekend when we were younger.
“Dar jugo” o “Hablar cabezas de pescado”: talking nonsense or talking gibberish
My teacher is always talking gibberish so it’s hard to understand him.
Arriba de la pelota: to be drunk, under the influence, inebriated, sauced, wasted, or hammered
They were all sauced after they went dancing at the night club last weekend.
What other Chilenismos to you want to learn?! Write in the comments below, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Instagram @monicayourprofe and let me know!
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