Guide to the local lingo in Quito

Every Latin American country has it own way of speaking Spanish and Ecuador is no exception. They have their own accent and form of slang that you won’t hear anywhere else as much of it comes from the indigenous Quechua language. To help you speak like a local in Quito, here are some basic words and expressions to work into your daily conversation.

Achachay

This expression is borrowed from the Quechua language and means that “it’s cold” or that you’re feeling cold, which might come in handy at Quito’s high altitudes, particularly when the temperature drops at nighttime. It could be another way of saying “Brrrrr!” too. On the flip side, when you want to comment that something is “very hot,” you say arrarrai.

Ahuevarse

This reflexive verb is a colloquial term used by the locals that means to “chicken out.” It’s always used in the reflexive.

Atatai

This is a great word to describe something that’s disgusting or smells bad. Use it emphatically to get your point across.

Buena facha

This is another way of saying Que estilo! And it’s used to describe someone’s great outfit choice or killer look.

Buenaso

This is the local equivalent of the universal Spanish expression que bueno that you probably find yourself using all the time.

¿Cachas?

This is a slang way of asking if someone has understood what you said, something like “Got it?” in English.

Chevere

This is the word for “awesome” or “cool.” It’s not just specific to Ecuador but used in a lot of countries in Latin America.

Chiro

If you’re chiro then you’re probably not paying for everyone’s cervezas tonight. It’s slang for being broke or short of money (estoy chiro).

Chuchaqui (el)

This is another word that will come in handy after a few too many drinks the night before. It means hangover. You can also use it with the verbs tener or estar to say that you’re hungover, for example, estoy chuchaqui.

Chuta

We’re not going to teach you any offensive words that will get you in trouble but this is a mild way of cursing and the Ecuadorean equivalent of the word “Shoot!” that you might use when you’ve done something wrong or forgotten something. You’ll hear many people saying it, including kids.

De ley

You’re probably familiar with the Spanish expression Claro! or Claro que sí! used as the affirmative. Well, De ley is another way of saying this. It literally means ‘by law’ but the locals use it as a way to say “obviously” or “of course” when someone asks you a question.

Estar con la leona

We all know lions get hungry and this phrase is used when you’re really hungry and need to get some food in your belly asap.

Fachosa

While buena facha describes someone who is looking cool, fachosa describes someone who is the complete opposite of cool and dressed really badly.

Farrear

You’ve probably already gathered that the Quiteños like to party and farrear is the Ecuadorean verb for “to party” or festejar as they like to say in Spain. In the same vein, a farra or farrota is a big party. If you’re wondering where to party in Quito, check out one of these popular nightlife spots.

Gordo / gorda

You might have originally learned this word as the word for “fat” but don’t be surprised if you hear friends calling one another gordo. It’s also a term of endearment between friends, partners and family, a little bit like “dear”.

Jamar

This is the local lingo for the verb “to eat.”

Mande

While the Spaniards might say dime and the Argentinians, decime, the Ecuadorians say mande for the phrase “tell me.”

Ñaño / ñaña

Taken from the Quechuan language directly, the words ñaño and ñaña mean brother and sister respectively and are commonly use by the Quiteños when talking about their siblings.

Pluto

We’re not talking about the planet here. It’s just another local slang word for “drunk” that’s probably easier to remember than the word chuchaqui.

Learnt any other useful slang expressions around Quito? Tell our readers about them in the comments section below.

Sophie Lloyd

Sophie Lloyd

I’m a British freelance writer and personal shopper currently living in Buenos Aires out of a love of Malbec and the Latino lifestyle. I enjoy travel and all things related to design.

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