Spanish Word of the day: ‘Cortar’

Cortar means "to cut" when used in the kitchen but that's not the only meaning.

Spanish Word of the day: 'Cortar'
Photo: nito103/Depositphotos

Cortar means “to cut” when used in the kitchen but that's not the only meaning.

Here are some examples of how to use it:


  • ¡Corta el queso antes de servirlo!

              Cut the cheese before serving it!


Cortaralso means to interrupt or shut off:

  • Mañana cortan el agua en todo el edificio por reformas de las tuberías.

               Tomorrow the water will be shut off in the whole building due to works on the pipes.


Cortaralso means to break up a relationship:

  • A pesar de llevar 5 años juntos Marta y Alberto han cortado.

               Despite having been together for 5 years, Marta and Alberto broke up.


And if you use the reflexive form cortarse, it means to be shy:

  • Mi hermano se corta mucho hablando con desconocidos.

               My brother is so shy when talking to strangers.


Cortar el bacalao, which literary means to cut the cod refers to be a boss and give orders:


  • Todos sabemos quién corta el bacalao en la empresa. 

We all know who's boss at the company.


This song from Enrique Iglesias says Yo te miro y se me corta la respiración,  do you know what it means?



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.

READ ALSO: The eleven most annoying Spanish false friends of all time

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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 that was popularised by a 90s’ kids show on TV called Telebuten, but it’s now a rather outdated way of saying ‘cool’ in Spanish.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.