Chile at Surface Level: Modismos

So after being here in Chile for so long, I though it would be appropriate that I write an article on some Chilean slang.


Some words in Chile do not exist in Spanish for other countries. Such words make what Chileans call modismos or chilenismos, in other words Chilean slang. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Cool bacán
  • Expensive restaurant – pirulo
  • You know? You understand? – ¿Cachai?
  • Snobby – cuico 
  • Baby – guagua
  • Belly/stomach – guata
  • How does that sound? Would you like to…? – ¿Te tinca? 
  • Boring – fome/ lata “Qué lata”
  • Party – carretear/ el carrete 
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend – pololo/polola
  • Dude – weon
  • 1000 pesos/money – luca
  • Traffic – taco
  • Right away – al tiro
  • Rock paper scissors – cachipún
  • For extra emphasis: + po 
  • “Chill” – tranqui


In Chile, some Chileans will conjugate some of their verbs differently when addressing someone who they are familiar with or is of the same age or younger, using the form.

Estar = to be        Querer = to want

Normal tú form: estas         Chilean tú form: estay

Normal tú form: quieres    Chilean tú form: queri

So that is what to expect when hearing Chilean Spanish. Even for those who speak Spanish as their first language find that there is a slight learning curve to understanding and even feeling comfortable using slang within everyday conversations. After a lot of TV shows and spending time with Chileans one will eventually cachar all of the slang that they use here. So if you want to visit Chile and are overwhelmed by the enormous amount of slang, tranqui. Don’t be worried; you will learn a lot of slang to the point you will feel like a local!


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