How to Sound like a Local in Ecuador

Quick Answer

Like any country, Ecuador has its fair share of slang words that the locals use to talk about anything from fruits at the store to cold weather. While it’s important to first work on your pronunciation, feel free to incorporate some of these words into your Spanish vocabulary to sound more like a native speaker. Above all, get ready to impress the doñaat the local Supermaxi!

Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador

While some of these Spanish slang words are not unique to Ecuador, they may take on a slightly different connotation than you are used to. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Farrear = To party

Farrearis the Ecuadorian equivalent of the English phrase "to party." It sounds similar to its synonym festejar, which is an easy way to remember this word's meaning.

Farreamos toda la noche en una chiva para el cumpleaños de mi mejor amiga.
We partied all night on a party bus for my best friend's birthday.

Chuta = Shoot

Pretty much everyone uses this expression. Think of it as the English shoot. Chutais what your mom says when she forgets her keys or what your uncle shouts at the TV when his team misses un gol.

¡Chuta! Se me olvidó llevar mis deberes a clase hoy.
Shoot! I forgot to bring my homework to class today.

Ñaño / ñaña = Brother / Sister

Borrowed from the Quechua word for siblings, ñañoor ñañaare words used to refer to one’s brother or sister, respectively. These terms are principally used in the Andes region of Ecuador, and you’ll especially hear it from quiteños, or people from Quito.

¿Has visto a mi ñaño? Mi mamá anda buscándolo.
Have you seen my brother? My mom is looking for him.

Ahuevarse = To chicken out

Ahuevarseis a colloquial term used by Ecuadorians that more or less translates as to chicken out. This handy pronominal verb is used by Ecuas to poke fun at or intimidate friends that are about to do something daring. Don’t forget to use the reflexive pronoun with this verb, otherwise the verb will take a different meaning.

Yo te acompaño cuando hagamos puenting para que no te ahueves al último minuto.
I'll go with you when we bridge jump to make sure you don't chicken out at the last minute.

Achachay = I'm cold / It's cold

Are you feeling cold? Then you should probably use achachayto indicate that it's cold or that you're feeling cold. As with ñaño, this expression is also borrowed from Quechua and doesn’t have a direct translation, but you should use it whenever you'd be tempted to say brrr. Additionally, you can use arrarrayto indicate that you've burned yourself because something you came in contact with is very hot.

¡Achachay! Cierra la puerta para que no entre el frío.
Brrr! Close the door so the cold air doesn't come in.

Chuchaqui = Hangover / Hungover

Did you party too much last night? You can use chuchaquito indicate that you have a hangover after a night out drinking. Additionally, this versatile Ecuadorian term can be used as a noun when paired with teneror as an adjective when paired with estar. It can even be used on its own in certain situations, such as in the example below:

Como un desayuno grandísimo para aliviarme del chuchaqui.
I eat a large breakfast to relieve my hangover.

De ley = Obviously / Of course

De ley is a useful phrase used a ton by Ecuadorians to colloquially answer in the affirmative. Directly translated as by law, you’ll want to use it as a way to respond obviously or of course to a question that someone asks you. A common Spanish synonym for de ley would be claro que .

De ley este bus nos lleva al centro histórico. Súbete antes de que se vaya.
Obviously this bus takes us to the historic center. Get on before it leaves.

Gordo / gorda = Dear

You might be surprised to hear people calling each other gordo (literally fatty). But don't worry, Ecuadorians aren't rude. In Ecuador, calling someone gordo or gorda is an affectionate term used between friends.

Hola, gordo. ¿Cómo has estado? Hace mucho que no hablamos y te extraño.
Hi, dear. How have you been? It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I miss you.

Chiro = Broke

If you’re at a restaurant and your friend says, estoy chiro, you’ll probably have to foot the bill. Ecuadorians use chiro when they don’t have any money in that moment to pay for something.

Me encantaría acompañarlos a la feria mañana pero el trabajo aún no me ha pagado y estoy chiro.
I’d love to go with you to the fair tomorrow but work still hasn’t paid me yet and I’m broke.

¿Cachas? = Got it?

¿Cachas?is used very colloquially in Ecuador to inquire if you understand something. Although it's usually used as a question, Ecuadorians also use it to respond to someone to communicate that they understand what is being clarified.

Mira, hay que girar la llave así para abrir la puerta, ¿cachas?
Look, you have to turn the key like this to open the door. Got it?

Quito and the Panecillo

¡Cheverazo!Now you're ready to book your trip to Quito, Guayaquil, or Baños. Remember to take this list with you on your travels. ¡Buen viaje!