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What does che mean in Spanish?

What does che mean in Spanish? Today we are going to learn it together!

The meaning of che is basically ‘hey’ and probably you have heard someone from Argentina or Uruguay using it.

But contrary to what many people think, even native Spanish speakers, che is also used in certain areas of Bolivia and Paraguay, and even in Valencia, Spain!

That’s why there are different theories about the origin of che in Spanish and linguists can’t fully agree on one.

Anyways, it certainly didn’t start with the guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, in case you were thinking it.

Che was his nickname precisely because he was Argentine!

What does che mean in Spanish?

Che is used in different ways in Spanish. Let’s see them one by one!

1) To say hello

At the beginning of a sentence, you can use che to say hello. It can be translated simply as ‘hey’:

¡Che, Mariano! ¡Tanto tiempo! (= Hey, Mariano! Long time no see!)

Or as ‘dude’, ‘bro’, ‘mate’, etc.:

¡Che! ¿Cómo estás? (= Bro! How are you?)

But if che is at the end, ‘dude’, ‘bro’, ‘dude’, etc. is the only possibility:

¿Cómo está yendo tu día, che? (= How is your day going, mate?)

¿Qué onda, che? (= What’s up, dude?)

In this video you can hear Paul McCartney himself using it during a concert in Argentina in 2016!

When we are talking to more than two people, the meaning of che is similar to ‘hey, guys’ or just ‘guys’:

Che, ¿por qué no pedimos sushi? (= Hey, guys, why don’t we order sushi?)

A naive mural of Che Guevara - Che in Spanish
¡Che, mirá! ¡Un mural del Che Guevara! – Photo by Stiopa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2) To attract someone’s attention

We use che to attract someone’s attention, too. Again it can be translated as ‘hey’:

Che, ¿qué hora es? (= Hey, what’s the time?)

¡Che, apagá el horno! (= Hey, turn off the oven!)

Fun fact: in 2019 Netflix launched an official Twitter account for its users in Argentina. Do you already guess the username? Yes, it’s @CheNetflix!

You will read many Argentines asking Netflix to release new movies or seasons of their favorite shows.

3) Using che in Spanish to express feelings

Finally, che as an exclamation can express surprise, anger, indignation, etc.

In this case, we usually lengthen the exclamation a few milliseconds, and both our intonation and our facial expression match the feeling we are trying to convey.

—¡El año que viene me caso, amigo! (casarse = to get married)
—Chee, ¡qué bueno!
😀

—¡Odio a mi familia!
—¡Chee!
😐

I’m using these emoticons just as an example, of course! You don’t need to use them when chatting.

And that’s all for today!

Do you want to learn more Spanish?

I hope you have enjoyed this article about the meaning of che in Spanish!

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Thank you very much and until next time,

Kevin.

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