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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Chachi’

Who would’ve thought that there’s a word used all the time in Spain that has something to do with Winston Churchill? Or so the story goes. 

spanish word of the day chachi
Is the Spanish word 'chachi' a mispronunciation of (Winston) Churchill? Photo: AFP

Chachi is a colloquial way to express approval for something or someone, in the sense of it/them being cool, awesome or great.

It’s mainly a word used by young people in Spain, so saying it to your bank manager or boss may raise an eyebrow or two, but it’s in no way derogatory or rude.

There’s even the expression ¡Chachi piruli Juan Pelotilla! that was popularised by a 90s’ kids show on TV called Telebuten, but it’s now a rather outdated way of saying ‘cool’ in Spanish. 

Chachi is certainly a rather bizarre sounding word and Spain’s Royal Academy actually has it recorded as deriving from chanchi (which nobody uses).

Linguists are not 100 percent certain about the origin of the word but there are two very interesting theories. 

The first is that chachi was first coined in the southern coastal city of Cádiz during World War II, at a time where hunger among locals and contraband at the port were both rife.

Smuggled goods from nearby Gibraltar were considered of the utmost quality as they came from the United Kingdom, and the story goes that Gaditanos (the name for people from Cádiz) referred to these bootlegged products as ‘charchil’, in reference to UK Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill.

Over time, charchil became chachi, a slang word which (if the story is true) came to mean ‘cool’ across Spain.

Other philologists believe that chachi comes from Caló, the language spoken by Spain’s native gipsy or Roma population. 

Chachipé or chachipen reportedly means ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ in this language spoken by 60,000 people across the Iberian Peninsula.

This could’ve been shortened to chachi and gone from being used like chachi que sí/claro que sí (of course) to chachi to mean ‘cool’.

Whichever theory is true, chachi is a great word to add to your arsenal of Spanish vocab. 

There’s also the Spanish word guay, which has a very similar meaning to chachi; we reviewed it here.

Examples: 

Carlos es un tío chachi. 

Carlos is a cool guy.

¡Pásalo chachi!

Have a great time!

La verdad es que es juego de mesa muy chachi.

The truth is it’s a very cool board game.

¡Qué chachi! Van a hacer un concierto en la plaza.

How cool! They’re going to hold a concert in the square.

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Word of the Day: Asco

Spaniards say this word when turning their noses up at something, and it’s used in all manner of expressions. 

Spanish Word of the Day: Asco

Asco is the Spanish word for disgust. 

It can refer to the physical feeling of nausea, or to the sense of repulsion at something or someone, physically or morally. 

The most common usage of asco you’ll hear in Spain is when someone exclaims ¡Qué asco!, which is like saying ‘yuck!’, ‘gross!’ or ‘disgusting!’ as an interjection. 

If something is disgusting, you use the verb dar (to give) and not ser or estar (to be), as in da asco.

To say that something or someone is hecho/a un asco describes it as a mess or dirty.

Again, repulsiveness can be caused by a person’s physical nature or behaviour, so when you want to describe someone as un asco de persona (a disgusting or appalling person) it can be like calling them a pig, or highlighting their moral crookedness.

The person who experiences this sense of disgust will often have a cara de asco, a face or look of disgust.

There are some interesting expressions to do with asco, such as la confianza da asco, which is like saying that familiarity breeds contempt. 

There’s also muerto de asco, which although suggests deaths from disgust, really means being bored stiff.

Someone who’s moaning about how bad their life is will also say ¡Qué asco de vida!, ‘What a crummy life!’.

And if you want to tell someone to stop turning their noses up at someone or turning it down, you use the expression no hacerle ascos

Asco is not a colloquial word but there are the more formal synonyms in Spanish of repugnancia, repulsión, aversión or desagrado

A less formal synonym on a par with asco is grima, although this implies more the type of disgust that gives one the willies or makes them grimace.

Examples:

Está casa da asco, es una auténtica pocilga. 

This house is disgusting, it’s a real pigsty.

Eres una persona muy malvada, me das asco.

You’re a very evil person, you disgust me.

Si te mudas a ese pueblo te vas a morir de asco.

If you move to that village you’re going to be bored stiff.

Tienes el coche hecho un asco, lávalo ya porfavor.

Your car is a mess, clean it now please.

¿Te has sacado un moco? ¡Qué asco!

Did you just pick a bogie out of your nose? Gross!

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