Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Merienda’

If you like to have more than three meals a day or you're a parent of young children in Spain, this word will come in very handy.

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Merienda'
Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Wisegie/Flickr

Why do I need to know this word?

Well, you may already know the main meals of the day in Spanish: “desayuno” (breakfast), “comida” (lunch) and “cena” (dinner).

But there’s another small meal which people in Spain have, especially kids.

“La merienda” usually refers to the afternoon snack children (but also adults) have at around 5 o’ clock to keep going before that traditionally late Spanish dinner.

But “merienda” can also refer to any snack that’s eaten in between main meals, so it can be used to refer to a mid-morning or midday snack, not as sophisticated as brunch though (the word “brunch” is widely used in Spain nowadays).

In Spain there’s also “el almuerzo”, which can mean lunch or mid-morning snack.

In Spain “merienda” has more of a connotation of being what children have when they get back home from school. It usually takes the form of a “bocadillo” (baguette/roll) with “embutidos” (cold meats) or some milk and biscuits.

There’s also a verb for this type of snacking: “merendar”.

And in a metaphorical sense, “merendarse a alguien” means to thrash or defeat someone, as if you gobbled them up. 

When should I use this word?

If you’re a parent in Spain you may be familiar with this word already.

Usually “merienda” and “merendar” will be used in the context of children having an afternoon or mid-morning snack.

Adults generally won’t meet up to “merendar” together. As mentioned earlier the word “brunch” is probably more suitable if you were to meet up for a late breakfast with friends.

And if you suggested having a “merienda” with friends at 5pm, they may give you some weird looks as the usual thing to do is to meet up for dinner.

Interestingly, the word comes from the Latin verb “merere”, which means to merit or deserve, as in Ancient Rome soldiers were given food in the afternoon for all their hard work during the day.

Can you give me some examples?

Vamos niños, es la hora de la merienda.

Come on, kids. It’s tea time.

Me ha recomendado el nutricionista merendar cuando llegue a casa.

My nutritionist advised me to have a snack when I get home.

El Barça se ha merendado al Real Madrid.

Barça have thrashed Real Madrid. 



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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.