Chingar is Spanish for ‘fuck’ and is used mostly in Mexico, as well as in Central America and the U.S. You won’t hear it in Spain or Argentina. It means “fuck” in almost all the ways we use that word in English, including the combinations and compounds.
Chingar comes from a Spanish verb meaning ‘to harm’ or ‘to annoy’ and carries the same general meanings of fuck, screw, drink heavily, or mess around as we have in English. The Real Academia Española gives the following definitions for this verb:
1. tr. Importunar, molestar.
2. tr. malson. Practicar el coito.
3. tr. coloq. Beber con frecuencia vino o licores.
4. tr. Am. Cen. Cortar el rabo a un animal.
5. intr. Can. salpicar.
6. intr. Pal. tintinar.
7. intr. Arg. y Ur. Colgar desparejamente el orillo de una prenda.
8. prnl. embriagarse.
9. prnl. Can., Arg., Bol., Chile y Col. No acertar, fracasar, frustrarse, fallar.
1. loc. verb. coloq. Arg. Equivocarse, fracasar.
Common phrases in colloquial speech using this verb include the following.
• ¡Chinga tu madre! (Fuck you! Fuck off!)
• ¡No chingues! (Don’t mess around with me! Don’t fuck with me!)
Both of the above are very strong and vulgar, and best not used until and unless you are absolutely, supremely confident in your command of Spanish, and in your ability to defend yourself in a fight, since you could easily offend someone inadvertently.
Just as happens with fuck and similar curses or vulgarisms in English, chingar can be used in an adjectival form, as shown below.
• ¡Ah, chingado! (Damn it!)
• Ese chingado carro no vale una vegra. (This damned car isn’t worth shit.)
This is used as an exclamation of surprise or frustration, though stronger than the rough English equivalent. Also note that the second sentence literally translates as “this damned car isn’t worth a prick” (verga is vulgar for penis).
You will hear chingar all the time in Mexican Spanish, whether in films like Y Tú Mama También, which chronicles the misadventures of two teenage boys and an older woman. The Mexican Spanish slang is so thick in this film that people from Argentina have a hard time following some of it. But there’s lot of ‘chingar’ in all its forms to be heard.
An even more amusing example is the 1980s film, El Norte, which tells the story of two kids from Central America trying to get to the U.S. border. In one scene, a truck driver who offers them a ride advises them to sound more Mexican by using ‘chingar’ a lot, giving many amusing examples in the process. By contrast, if you watch The Motorcycle Diaries, you won’t hear it, because this film chronicles a young Ché Guevera and his friend journeying around South America.
As with all curses, be very careful when using any form of chingar. Even native speakers can cause offense, so non-natives are usually better off just avoiding them. But ‘chingar’ and many other words besides are so common that you have to know them.
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The verb chingar is known throughout Latin America, but there is no other country that uses and abuses this word like Mexico. Chingar is the most important word in Mexico.
Here is the official dictionary definition by the Royal Spanish Academy versus the Mexican Spanish meaning of chingar.
Chingar according to the Royal Spanish Academy
According to the Royal Academy of Spanish Language the transitive verb chingar comes from the Caló language čingarár that means to fight. The first three meanings given by the Academy are:
1. to importune, disturb
2. to have sex (offensive)
3. to frequently have wine or drinks (colloquial)
The Mexican definition of chingar
The definition given by the Royal Academy of Spanish Language seems pretty lame compared to what Mexicans experienced in the formation of their country.
The most complete Mexican definition of chingar is given by the renowned writer Octavio Paz in the essay Hijos de la Malinche (Sons of the Malinche) where he wrote an in-depth study about La Chingada. These fragments that I have translated give the best explanation.
But the quantity of meanings doesn’t stop the idea of aggression in all its degrees, from a simple inconvenience, sting, hurt, to rape, rip up and kill… The verb denotes violence, removed from yourself and penetrate inside another by force. And also hurt, rip, rape bodies, souls, objects, destroy.
It is a cruel active masculine verb: itches, wound, rip, stains. And provokes a bitter, resentful satisfaction for the one who acts.
The “chingado” is the passive, inert, and open, opposed to the one who does the act of “chinga” that is active, aggressive and closed. The “chingón” is the male, the one who opens. The “chingada” is the female, the pure passive, unarmed…
For the Mexican, life is the possibility of “chingar” of being “chingado.” Meaning, to humiliate, punish, offend or the other way around.
– by Octavio Paz
From El laberinto de la soledad
Hijos de la Malinche is part of the book El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude) that is Paz’s most famous work.
Summarizing, the degree of the intensity of the meaning that the word chingar has, comes from the moment when Spanish conquerors raped the native women that became the first chingadas (or raped). That is why the Mexican people are considered to be los hijos de la chingada (the sons of the raped Indians) due to the mix of both cultures. (Please be careful when saying this statement: “Los Mexicanos son los hijos de la chingada” and not to be confuse with “Los Mexicanos son unos hijos de la chingada”, the second one could be considered an insult.)
Check out the next article A List of Spanish Slang Expressions Using CHINGAR: 22 Mexican Spanish Examples to learn the different usages of this popular Mexican Spanish word.
A List of Spanish Slang Expressions Using CHINGAR: 22 Mexican Spanish Examples
Check out these other Mexican Spanish Slang Word articles.