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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish word of the day: ‘Cobra’

When learning Spain, you will come across words with the same spelling that mean completely different things depending on the context.

Spanish word of the day: 'Cobra'
Photo: nito103/Depositphotos

Why do I need to know cobra?

It also has other meanings and means both a noun and a verb, as well as a colloquial expression.

What does it mean?

Cobra in Spanish means the same as the animal in English – a type of snake

As a verb!

In Spanish, the third person of a verb ending in -ar usually simply removes the -r and ends in -a.

The verb cobrar means to earn money so cobra is the 3rd person of the verb cobrar.

  • Ella cobra mucho dinero, pero se quiere cambiar de trabajo pronto.

            She earns a lot of money but she wants to change jobs soon.

 

It also colloquially refers to the action of turning your face away when somebody tries to kiss you:

  • Me quería dar un beso, pero le hice una cobra, no era mi tipo.

        He wanted to kiss me but I turned my face away, he was not my type at all.

 

Pronunciation: 

koh-brah

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 MORE: Ten Spanish slang phrases you never learn at school 

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 that was popularised by a 90s’ kids show on TV called Telebuten, but it’s now a rather outdated way of saying ‘cool’ in Spanish.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