How to speak Guatemalan #3

1. Chapín(a)
When you live here and you don’t know what a chapín is, you are definitely not ready to call yourself one. A chapín is someone from Guatemala, chapína is the female version. I like to refer to myself as a chapína, because I am so obsessed with this beautiful country that I actually start to feel half Guatemalan, half Dutch.

For example: “No sé que es eso. No soy de México, soy chapín.” (“I don’t know what that is. I am not from Mexico, I am Guatemalan.”)

2. Chucho
A typically Guatemalan word for dog. So, if you really want to offend someone, you can tell him he is a chucho, a dog. In Guatemala you will hardly find a street without any street dogs that bark at you, eat food from the bins and look at you with the saddest eyes you have ever seen. They will keep you awake at night, scare the shit out of you on the street and even cause a car accident every now and then. When you want them to stop barking at you, you can simply yell “Sho, chucho!”, which means someting like “shut up dog!”.

For example: “Que lindo ese chucho… de que raza es?” (What a beautiful dog… what kind of breed is it?”)



3. Traida
A way to say girlfriend, a traido is a boyfriend. I was talking with my friends about this word and apparently it comes from the Spaniards who brought their women to Guatemala because they didn’t want to marry the Guatemalan indigenous women. Traida comes from the verb traer, which means ‘to bring’. So a traida is actually some sort of import bride, but here it is a pretty common word to describe a girl- or boyfriend.

For example: “Voy a ir con mi traida al cine.” (“I am going to the movies with my girlfriend.”)

4. Muco
muco is kind of a derogatory name for someone from the lower class of society. Here in Guatemala they also use it for someone who likes reggaeton music!

For example: “Ese tipo se viste como muco.” (This guy looks like a mob.”)

Call me a muca.. I kinda like this!

5. Mara
This awesome word refers to a group of people or friends. It comes from the violent drug gang Mara Salvatrucha, but that became such a normal word that people started to use it for their own group of people too. A Mara is actually a gang member, but in this case it is just a friend.

For example: “Ayer salimos con la mara de la clase a la piscina.” (“Yesterday we went to the pool with a group from my class.”)

6. Chiveado(a)
Chiveado means ‘shy’, so I use this word a lot and other people use this word for me too. I am always a little chiveada (female!), especially when I have to speak in two language that are not my own.

For example: “Oscar está chiveado, por esa razón no quiere entrar.” (“Oscar is shy, that’s why he doesn’t want to enter.”)

7. Pisto

For example: “No tengo pisto para la gasolina.” (“I don’t have money for gas.”)


8. Pachón
Waterbottle! This word can’t be left out of this list! I have to drink gallons a day here, even more now that I have Eppstein-Barr. Great word to know if you decide to live here.

For example: “Nos regalaron pachones  el pícnic.” (They gave us waterbottles at the picnic.”)

9. Pilas
This word either means batteries or smart. ‘Batteries’ is the common Spanish translation, ‘pilas’ is the Guatemalan one.

For example: “Él contestó todas las preguntas porque es bien pilas.” (“He answered all the questions, because he is very smart.”)

10. Clavo
This word actually means nail, but in Guate people use it to say they have a problem. Don’t misunderstand them when they tell you they have a problem and you think they have a nail!

For example: “Tengo un clavo, necesito ayuda.” (“I have a problem, I need help.”)


That’s it! There are still a thousand Guatemalan words left that I could put on this list, but these are the most important ones. What is your favorite Guatemalan word?


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  • Reply
    Daniel Taylor (Puerto)
    6 July 2017 at 04:12

    MISS YOU!! Loving the blog posts!!

    • Reply
      10 July 2017 at 15:07

      Thank you Puerto! Miss you too!

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