How to speak Guatemalan #2

Ready to dive deeper into the wonderful language of Guatemala? V’a, here we go. Welcome to part two of How To Speak Guatemalan!

1. Chamusca
My favorite word of this new list! Chamusca is a beautiful word to describe street football without any rules, which is basically my favorite thing to do here. Just a relaxed game with some friends, raggaeton blasting out of the speakers, and a cup of soda afterwards. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

For example: ¡Muchá, vamos a jugar chamusca!” (“Hey guys, let’s play some street soccer!”)

Playing chamusca in the exhausting heat with some kids from the center in Oratorio.

2. ¡Aguas!

The word aguas is inextricably linked to the number one on this list, chamusca. Aguas is the Guatemalan way of saying careful or watch out! Since chamusca is often played on the open streets, you will most likely hear it every time a car or motorbike wants to pass. Doesn’t make sense at all, because you are basically yelling ‘waters!’.

For example: “AGUAS! El carro quiere pasar.” (“Watch out! The car wants to pass.”)

3. Shute

Also one of my favorites. A shute is a nosy person, someone who is in places he’s not supposed to be in. Great word for people who want to read your diary..

For example: “No seas shute! Ese diario es mío!” (“Don’t be such a nosy person! That diary is mine!”)

4. Colocho

This fancy word means curls or curly hair and it can also be used for a person with curly hair. I work with a guy that has the most amazing collection of black, shiny curls on his head and everybody calls him ‘colocho’, they hardly use his real name. The female version of this word is colocha.

For example: “¡Ojalá tuviera colochos! Mi cabello lacio es tan aburrido.” (“I wish I had curls! My straight hair is so boring.”)


5. Patas arriba

I don’t think it is very Guatemalan, but I think it’s a funny expression. Patas arriba literally means legs up and it is a way of saying upside down. My new mom uses it a lot when the whole house is a mess and everyone is walking around. The expression revers to an animal lying on its back, the animal is basically ‘upside down’. So, everytime someone uses these words I get a picture of a fat cow with its legs up in the

For example: “Este mundo está patas arriba.” (“This world is upside down/going crazy.”)

 6. Cicle

Not the most interesting one, but the people here use it very often. A cicle is the Guatemalan abbreviation of bicicleta, bicycle.

For example: “Me robaron mi cicle ayer.” (“My bike was stolen yesterday.”)

7. Canchita

Although this word doesn’t really describe me, this has basically become my nickname here. It’s a sweet way to describe a girl with blonde (canche) hair.

For example: “Esta canchita holandesa es tan bonita!” (“This Dutch, blonde girl is so pretty!”)

8. Mala onda / buena onda / qué onda?

The word onda means wave or vibe, but Guatemalans use it for a lot of things that doesn’t even make sense. Mala onda literally means bad vibes or bad wave and it is a way of saying that there’s a negative vibe or situation. Mala onda is also being used to describe a mean or uncool person or action. Buena onda can be used to say nice or cool, mostly when you’re talking about a person. It can also be used to express happiness. ¿Qué onda vos? can not be any more Guatemalan. It is translated to What’s up? And vos is the Guatemalan version of you.

For example: “¡Lucas es mala onda! Nadie quiere hacerse su amigo.” (“Lucas is really uncool/mean! Nobody wants to be friends with him.”)

9. Puchojenso

I am actually not allowed to put this on the list, because it’s not even a real word but I love it anyway. Puchojenso is the Guatemalan version of saying Put your hands up. Guatemalans in general don’t speak English, so when they try to pronounce anything, it becomes a language on its own. You can often hear the word puchojenso on the radio when there’s a song that makes you want to put your hands in the air. There are even songs with this title…

For example: “¡Venga! ¡Puchojenso!” (Come on! Put your hands up!)



10. Hueva

Hueva means lazy, laziness or boring. Great word to use on a Sunday afternoon when you absolutely want to do nothing else than watch Netflix in your PJ’s with a bag of chips.

For example: “Maldita hueva. ¡Sal de este cuerpo chambeador!” (“Cursed laziness. Leave this hardworking body alone!”)


Tune in soon for the next (and final) Part 3!


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