Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Chat with the cool kids using 4 words that start with ‘CH‘ in Spanish

Pronouncing words with a Spanish “CH” sound might be a challenge for English speakers. However, if you have ever heard (or sang) “Bongo Cha Cha Cha” by Caterina Valente or El Bodeguero, or “Cha Cha Cha” by Orquesta Aragon, I’m sure you not only have great dance moves, but you already know how to pronounce this particular sound. 

Ultimately, we learn best when we are having fun, and I can’t think of a better way to lift your mood than by listening to “El cha cha cha”! If you still haven’t heard these songs, take a minute to play them while you go through the article, and add a spark of rhythm to your reading. 

Now that you have the rhythm of Cuban music in your head, let’s delve into four distinctive Mexican words that start with the letter CH – “chacharear,” “chin,” “chafa,” and “chido”. 

*The pronunciation guide is in the video at the end of the article so be sure to push play 🙂

1. Chacharear

Definition: To wander through markets, especially thrift stores, bazaars and flea markets. Leisurely browsing through clothing and products.

In Mexican culture, we love going to flea markets and bazaars to explore the huge array of goods on offer. It’s a leisurely activity, often done with friends or family, appreciating the variety of products on display.  


  • (speaking on the phone) ¿Qué haces? What are you doing?

 – Nada aquí chachareando. Hay un bazar en la esquina de mi casa, ¿no quieres venir?

 Nothing just wandering around. There is a bazaar going on the corner of my street, wanna come?

  • ¿Quieres venir conmigo al mercado? Do you wanna come with me to the market?

– ¿A qué vas? What for?

– Pues namas’ a chacharear Not much, just to wander around

(, ,) 

2. Chin

Definition: An expression of mild disappointment or annoyance; akin to saying “darn” or “oh no.”

“Chin” is a versatile term used to convey a range of emotions, from slight inconvenience to a more significant letdown. It’s a succinct expression that captures the essence of a less-than-ideal situation without dwelling on negativity.


  • –Hola, Pau, te estoy esperando Hi Pau, I’m waiting for you.

–¡Chin! Se me olvidó por completo nuestra cita, perdón!  Oh no! I completely forgot about our appointment!

– No te preocupes, reagendamos Don’t worry, we’ll reschedule

  • ¡Chin, ya lo rompí! Darn, I broke it


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3. Chafa

Definition: Something of poor quality, fake, or subpar; not up to standard.

“Chafa” is a term used to describe things that fall short of expectations, whether it be a counterfeit product or an unsatisfactory experience. It’s a straightforward way of expressing disappointment or disapproval.


  • Me compré este reloj en una tienda de segunda mano, pero está bien chafa, ya dejó de funcionar. 

I bought this watch in a second-hand store, but it is such poor quality, it has already stopped working

  • –Oye, Pau, se va a cancelar la fiesta. Hey Pau, the party’s gonna be canceled

– Nooo, qué chafa Oh nooo! That’s a bummer


4. Chido

Definition: Cool, awesome, or excellent; something impressive or pleasing.

On the positive end of the spectrum, “chido” is a term expressing admiration or approval. It’s a popular slang term that is widely used to describe something that is not just good but has that extra flair of coolness.


  • –¿Qué te parece el cuadro? What do you think of the painting?

– Muy chido. Very cool

  • –¿Te gustó la película? Did you like the movie?

–No estuvo tan chida como pensaba, pero sí. It was not as cool as I thought it would be, but yeah


  • No estuvo chido eso que hiciste what you did was not nice

These four words — “chacharear,” “chin,” “chafa,” and “chido” — are words that we use in a casual informal way. But they will add a nice touch to your Spanish repertoire, making you feel “in the know” with what the cool kids are saying.

Paulina Gerez is a translator-interpreter, content creator, and founder of Crack The Code, a series of online courses focused on languages. Through her social media, she helps people see learning a language from another perspective through her fun experiences. Instagram: paulinagerezm / Tiktok: paugerez3 / YT: paulina gerez

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