Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Botellón’

Botellón is a deep-rooted cultural phenomenon in Spain that refers to people gathering in the street to socialise and drink alcohol.

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Botellón'

It could be translated as 'pre-drinking' but in some cases, people, often students, will just go to a park or plaza to drink with no intention of going anywhere else afterwards.

The word literally means 'big bottle' (and still does in Latin America, where botellón isn't a part of their culture). The term supposedly originates from the 80s when people would save money by drinking in plazas and parks. It blew up in the 90s among students and young people, so much so that it's now widely considered an accepted custom.

Let's see some examples:

  • Este viernes se organiza un macro botellón en el centro de Madrid.

       This Friday a massive street party is being held across the city centre of Madrid.


  • Los estudiantes se fueron de botellón después de la  graduación.

       The students went pre-drinking on the street after their graduation.

More about botellón

Botellón is a divisive issue. Many believe that the noise, mess and anti-social behaviour that comes from drinking in the street means that it's not compatible with built-up town and city centres. Others, however, feel that botellón provides a cool place to socialise in the hot summers of Spain, as well as a cheap alternative to bars and clubs.

To overcome this divide, many areas have set up designated botellón sites away from built-up areas, that are called 'botellódromos'.

Botellón now carries a fine when carried out in areas where it is prohibited, so make sure to check before cracking open a bottle of wine in the park.




Check out our other word of the day posts

This word of the day has been contributed by LAE Madrid, the leading Spanish academy in Madrid. Accredited by the Insitituto Cervantes, it offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and familiesRead their blog for more Spanish!

READ ALSO: Five ways 'leche' means more than just 'milk' in Spain

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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'

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.


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.