Do you wonder about the different ways to say the same thing in different countries or which Spanish words change their meaning completely depending on the country in which they are said?

Then keep reading this article, because you are about to learn some of these words and their respective meanings.


This word, in most countries, is a material which is used for making shirts or skirts (velveteen shirts/skirts). However, in Colombia, it is the way to call somebody. For example, “¡Oye mi pana!”, which would mean “Hey bro!” in English.


In Colombia, it is an enjoyable musical rhythm. However, in most other countries, it is a cigarette of marijuana.


In Chile, when somebody wants to express that something is far away, they say “está a la chucha” (it is so far). Moreover, in Spain, it is the name of a location (specifically in Granada, Spain).

Also, in other countries such as Colombia, “chucha” is the armpit odor; in Argentina, it is the female reproductive organ; and in some countries of Latin America it is used as an innocent insult.


In any Spanish speaking country, “chivo” is the name of an animal. However, in Argentina and Uruguay, it is the armpit odor. For example: “tienes olor a chivo” which would mean “you have armpit odor”.


It is the way to call a little dog in Salvador and Guatemala. Moreover, in Honduras, it means “stingy”, and in some countries, it is the way to refer to a person named “Jesús”.

This word also has a different meaning in Argentina, Mexico and Chile. In Argentina, it is used to express that the weather is cold; in Mexico, it is used to refer to people with the gift of being very skillful. And finally, in Chile, “chucho” means “jail”.


This word is used in some Spanish-speaking countries to refer to a fruit (strawberry). While in Argentina and Uruguay, “strawberry” is “frutilla”. However, in Mexico, that word is used for conceited and egocentric people.


In most Latin American countries (as well as in Spain), “torta” means “cake”. But in Spain, it is a punch on the mouth as well.

In Argentina it means the same but it is said as “tortazo”.


“Capullo” means “bud” (as in “flower bud”) to any Spanish-speaking person. Nonetheless, in Spain, it is an insult and it is not recommended to say unless you are pretending to insult somebody. Please do not do this!


It means “juice” in some Latin American countries, such as Argentina or Uruguay. However in Spain, “juice” is the liquid which goes out of meat, and “zumo” is the way they say “juice” (as “fruit juice”).


As I previously mentioned, “zumo” in Spain means “juice”. But be careful, it shouldn't be confused with the word “sumo” as the meanings are completely different.

Just as an interesting fact, “sumo” is both a sport (Japanese, fat fighters wrestling) and also, means “supreme”, that's why maybe you have heard before “Sumo Pontífice” that refers to the Pope as the maximum authority in the Catholic religion.


This word has three different meanings. One is “shell”, which would be the most accurate translation.

The second one (which is used in Argentina) is a way to refer to the female reproductive organ; and the third one does not really have a meaning, because it is a female proper name in Mexico and Spain.

Llamar pa’ atrás

It is not really a word, but a phrase. It is used in Puerto Rico to literally express “I will call you back” (call = llamar; back = atrás).

It does not make sense in any other country, because the way to say “I will call you back” is “te llamaré de nuevo”, “te llamo más tarde” or “te llamo después”.


There are certain countries in Latin America in which it is possible to hear (as a very informal word), people calling security guards “wachiman”. However, in other countries such as Uruguay and Argentina, the way to refer to a security guard is “guardia de seguridad”.


It also means “security guard” in Argentina, but it is used to mean “fringe” in most Spanish-speaking countries as well.

Moreover, “guarda” is a verbal conjugation of the verb “guardar” (“to save”) and a way to express “be careful” in Argentina (among other meanings that “guarda” has).


This word means “cigarette” in Spain, and in Venezuela it is a plastic cylinder to calculate sizes. However, in Mexico some people refer to the masculine reproductive organ as “pitillo”.


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