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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Fuego

Summer in Spain is the time for blazing barbecues and scorching weather, so let's review all the uses of the Spanish word for fire.

Spanish Word of the Day: Fuego
Photo: Deposit Photos

Fuego is a commonly used word you'll need to talk about gunfire, fireworks and even a lighter, so make sure you get it right.  

–        El fuego destruyó más de 5 hectáreas de bosque.

               The fire destroyed more than 5 hectares of forest.

–        El fuego de la vela se consume lentamente.

               The candle's flame goes out very slowly.

–        “¡Alto el fuego! Gritaron los militares”

“Stop firing!”, the military shouted.

–        ¿Tienes fuego?

–        Do you have a light?

Other uses for fuego:

–        Los fuegos artificiales son muy comunes en las celebraciones en todo el mundo.

               Fireworks are very common in celebrations around the world.

–        La caldereta de ternera se debe cocinar a fuego lento.

The stew soup must be slow cooked.

–        Necesitas una licencia para tener un arma de fuego.

               You need a license to own a firearm.

We finish with a stunning poem by Uruguayan journalist, writer and poet Eduardo Galean

Fuegos

Cada persona brilla con luz propia
entre todas las demás.
No hay dos fuegos iguales.
Hay fuegos grandes y fuegos chicos
y fuegos de todos los colores.
Hay gente de fuego sereno, que ni se entera del viento,
y hay gente de fuego loco, que llena el aire de chispas.
Algunos fuegos, fuegos bobos,
no alumbran ni queman;
pero arden la vida con tantas ganas
que no se puede mirarlos sin parpadear,
y quien se acerca, se enciende.

Pronunciation: Fue-go

LAE Madridis the leading Spanish academy in Madrid and is accredited by the Instituto Cervantes. It offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and families. For more information on our Spanish courses contact [email protected]

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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'

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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