Monthly Archives: April 2015

Boredom! Four related words


Penca – Chato/a – Fome – Pesado/a = Four more Chilean words you will hear all of the freakin’ time in this country. I must say I’m a fan. Conveniently, they’re all related so we can use them to describe a similar situation or person.

Fome: This word is most closely akin to “lame” or “boring” in English (not “unable to walk”) such as “This party is so lame. I’m gonna bounce.” “Qué fome el carrete. Ya me voy.” It’s used by people of any age to refer to a situation that is dull and uninspiring. It’s not insulting, however, you could call someone fome if you don’t want them to leave the party.

Is it clear that the “carrete” is the Chilean version of fiesta? No one says “fiesta” much here. The weekend, late-night drinking and dancing fest often accompanied by food or snacks is referred to as a “carrete”. Rrroll those Rrrrs!

Estoy chata! I use the “a” ending version, being on the female side of the sliding scale. If you identify as male, you’d use ‘chato’. If you identify somewhere in-between or neither, the Spanish language is not gonna give you any convenient options. This phrase means “I’ve had it up to here” or “I’m sick of it.” I have been heard to say “Estoy chata de esa música cola.” The “cola” part in this phrase is slang for “gay male” and it is not necessarily derogatory. Música cola refers to the Kylie – Rihanna –  Beyoncé style of tunage.  Elsewhere, people say “Estoy harto/a”. This version is understood here, but not used too much.

Penca: This word is in the “fome – aburrido – lame” family, but I’d say it’s closest to “sucky”. “You have to work on your birthday? That sucks.” “Tienes que trabajar en tu cumple? Qué penca.” “Cumple” is clearly short for “cumpleaños.” Fun bonus: Refri is to Refrigerador (nevera) as Fridge is to Refrigerator.

Pesado: The pure meaning here is “heavy”, but it’s used in Chile to talk about someone who is being a downer. Mind you, in this country the label of being a downer could simply be handed out if you tell someone a truth they don’t want to hear. Here is an example:

“Maybe you’d get more work done if you didn’t party so hard.” Response – “You’re such a downer.”

“Capaz que seas más productivo si asistieras a menos carretes.” Respuesta – “Erí pesado.” If you recall, erí is Chile’s ‘tú’ form version of eres. (third paragraph down) Of course, Chileans would pronounc it “pesao” or “pesá” because they eat the ‘D’s.

When friends tell me I’m pesada, I just say it’s honesta and if they don’t want my opinion, don’t whine at me repeatedly about the same thing! Je je.

Lastly, people use the English word “Heavy” to refer to a situation that is serious, deep, incredible, dramatic or in some way hard to wrap the mind around. If I hear a story of some impact or true import on someone’s life, I may say “That shit’s real” especially if I’m not talking directly to the affected party. Here you could say “¡Qué heavy!” Be sure to pronounce it as if it were a Spanish word though. Something like hay-a-vee with a good moment’s linger on the ‘H’.

Well that was more than four words, but it sure was fun!

I always appreciate questions, comments and feedback.