Words and phrases you need to know to be a true Madrileño

If you're learning Spanish, one of most challenging things about learning a new language is the accents and street slang, which changes depending on which city you're in.

Words and phrases you need to know to be a true Madrileño
Photo: Kasto/Depositphotos

The capital of Spain is no different! Madrid has lots of words and phrases that are just used there, as well as some that may be used elsewhere but are common to hear on the streets of Madrid. Knowing the meaning of this words and when to use them will make you sound just like a native, so here we give you some words and phrases to test out:


Chupa – leather jacket


  • Se ha comprado una chupa preciosa.

        He's bought a beautiful leather jacket.


Piba/pibe – girl or boy


  • Esta piba es muy rara.

        This girl is very strange.


Sobar – sleep


  • Me voy a sobar, estoy agotado.

        I'm going to sleep, I'm knackered.


Esfumarse – disappear or run away


  • Juan no hace más que esfumarse cada vez que le vemos.

       Juan keeps ghosting on us whenever we see him.



En zero coma – very fast


  • Salimos de viaje en 0 coma.

       We'll be en route in no time.


A pachas – go halves


  • Fuimos a cenar y pagamos la cuenta a pachas.

We went to have dinner and split the bill.


Mazo – a lot


Tengo mazo de tiempo libre últimamente.

I have had  a lot of free time lately.


Estar al loro – to be aware


Estoy al loro de todo lo que pasa en esta ciudad.

I'm aware of everything that happens in this city.


Keli – house


¿Quedamos todos en mi keli?

Shall we all meet in my house?


Pirado – crazy


Los que ponen su vida en peligro sin motivo están totalmente pirados.

Those that put their own life's in danger without reason are totally crazy.


Chachi – good or great


El Parque Warner es super chachi.

The Warner Park is really good.


Pipa – fool or silly person


Jorge es un pipa , nadie le toma en serio.

Jorge is a fool, no one takes him seriously.


Jeta – face

Tenía una jeta de asustado impresionante.

He had such a scared face.


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 families.

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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.