Colombian Slang Basics #3: “Chévere” and “Bacano”
When Colombians use the slang words “bacano” and “chévere” the meaning is essentially the same as the English word “cool”. Read on for a few other variations and examples:
The Meaning of “Chévere”
“Chévere” is a popular word for “cool” that is heard throughout Colombia, though it is not exclusive to that country. The population in neighbouring Venezuela, for instance, also enjoy using it a fair old amount.
Understanding the types of context in which this term is heard is a straightforward affair, given that it is used in almost exactly the same way as its English equivalent. Take a look at the following examples and you’ll see what I mean:
El sitio es muy chévere
Meaning: “The place is very cool”. Similarly:
La idea me parece chévere
for “I like the idea” / “it seems like a cool idea”.
In addition, “chévere” works well as a throwaway little response to comments, roughly along the lines of saying “OK”, “sure” or “cool” in English.
In conversation this might sound something like this:
Nos vamos a encontrar en el Parque de la 93 por ahí a las 8.30pm
Translation: 1. “We’re gonna meet in the park on 93rd at around 8.30pm”; 2. “Cool”.
To be a bit more enthusiastic about just how cool you think something is, you can upgrade the standard “chévere” to “cheverísimo” – making it more like “really cool”.
The Meaning of “Bacano”
“Bacano” is near enough identical in meaning to “chévere” and is used to describe “cool” ideas, objects and situations. Here are a couple of example sentences:
¡Qué carro tan bacano!
“What a cool car!”, and:
Sería muy bacano ir a la playa
“It’d be very cool to go to the beach”.
One thing to note is that if you want to talk about a “cool guy”, you’ll need to adapt the word slightly. To express the following sentiment: “he’s a really cool guy. I like him a lot”, you could try the nicely Colombian-sounding sentence:
Ese pelado es un bacán, me cae muy bien
A final adaptation of this term is “bacanería”, which means “the quality of being cool”. If you think someone makes a very positive impression, for instance, you might say of them:
Se le nota la bacanería de una
That’d translate to something like: “you can immediately tell that he/she is really cool (or a really good person)”.
Use both terms liberally in your Colombian conversations and your Spanish will start sound instantly more authentic.
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Spanish and Slang in ‘Narcos’: Your Complete Guide
Even accomplished Spanish speakers can be perplexed by some of the conversations between Pablo Escobar and his associates in the popular Netflix series ‘Narcos’. Based mainly in the Colombian city of Medellin, most of the characters speak using the distinctive local brand of Spanish. This features a liberal sprinkling of parlache; a specific strand of slang which originated among Medellin’s criminal underworld.
Colombian Slang Basics #4: Parche
Today’s slang word is “parche”; a term the dictionary would have you believe just means “patch”. In Colombia, it has an altogether more useful meaning too. While no exact English translation exists for Colombians slang use of “parche”, it roughly means: “a group of friends getting together to do something”.