Chava – Translation and Meaning in English

What does ‘chava’ mean in Spanish?

In Spanish, chava is an informal word that speakers use to call or to refer to a young woman. As a result, it can be translated as ‘girl’ or ‘gal’. Its masculine form is ‘chavo’ which means ‘boy’, ‘kid’ or ‘guy’. ‘Chava’ is also used as a nickname for Salvador in all Spanish-speaking countries. 

What is ‘Chava’ in Spanish?

In Spanish, the word ‘chava’ is a noun that is used to call or refer to young women. This word is also a popular Spanish nickname for Salvador. In more informal contexts, this term can be used as an adjective to express that someone is inexperienced. 

‘Chava’ has the following uses and translations: 

  • When used to call or refer to a young woman, it means ‘girl’, ‘gal’ or ‘girlfriend’. 
  • If used as an adjective to describe innocent or inexperienced people, ‘chava’ means ‘naive’ or ‘inexperienced’.

‘Chava’ is only used to refer to young females. So, you’ll need to use is masculine form chavo if you’re talking about young men. Both words have the same meanings and applications and they can be used in formal and informal situations. Below are some examples and contexts where you can use these words.

As a synonym of ‘girl’ or ‘gal’

In Spanish, the main meaning of ‘chava’ is as a word to call or refer to a young woman. As a result, this word is usually applied when talking about friends, girlfriends or young girls in general. 

(Determiner) + chava + [complement]

Mira, esta es mi chava.
Look, this is my girl.

Esa chava de allá es mi prima.
That girl over there is my cousin.

La chava de la tienda es muy grosera.
The girl from the store is very rude.

Chavas, ¿quieren algo de tomar?
Gals, do you want something to drink?

Here are some examples of how to use ‘chavo’. 

¿Cómo se llama el chavo nuevo?
What’s the new guy’s name?

Mis hijas están bien, ¿cómo está tu chavo?
My daughters are okay, how is your boy?

As a nickname for Salvador

In all Spanish-speaking countries, Chava is a popular nickname for ‘Salvador’. Now, in here, we’re not talking about young women, so even though Salvador is a name for men, ‘Chava’ doesn’t change its gender.

Chava es el novio de mi hermana.
Chava is my sister’s boyfriend.

Karina y Chava fueron a la fiesta.
Karina and Chava went to the party.

Creo que el chico nuevo se llama Chava
I think the new guy’s name is Chava

Related Resource: Mexican Nicknames for Given Names

To express that somebody is inexperienced

In informal contexts, both ‘chavo’ or ‘chava’ are used to say that a person is inexperienced or kind of innocent. For this meaning, you necessarily need to use the verb ‘estar’. Here are some examples of this popular expression:

[‘Estar conjugated] + chavo/chava

Tenle paciencia, está chavo.
Be patient with him, he’s so inexperienced.

¿No sabes que es el vodka? ¡Estás chava!
You don’t know what vodka is? You are so inexperienced!

¡La neta están chavos, morros! Les hace falta vivir. 
To be honest, you guys are so inexperienced! You need to live more. 

Take Note: In the last example, could be used for either ‘guys’ or to mean ‘inexperienced’. In these types of situations, it’s best to choose an alternative synonym for one or the other. In this case, we use ‘morros’ to mean ‘guys’. See this and more synonyms below

Synonyms for ‘Chava’ and ‘Chavo’

Although in Mexico ‘chavo’ and ‘chava’ are very popular words, there are other terms that you could use instead.

  • Chica is a Spanish standard term that refers to young women. Depending on the context in which it’s being used, it can be translated as ‘girl’, ‘girlfriend’ or ‘gal’. ‘Chico’ is its masculine form. When describing people or things, ‘chico’ expresses age or the size of an object. 
  • Muchacha and its masculine form ‘muchacho’ are standard terms that are used to call or refer to young people. They can be translated as girl’, ‘boy’, ‘gal’ or ‘guy’. In other contexts, ‘muchacha’ is also used as a synonym of ‘maid’.  
  • Morra is a Mexican slang word that people use to refer to girls and young women. ‘Morra’ can be used in the same contexts than ‘chava’, but it is slightly more informa. It means ‘girl’ or ‘kid’. Its masculine form is ‘morro’.  
  • Señorita is a formal synonym of ‘chava’. It means ‘miss’ or ‘young lady’.  
  • Joven is a formal term that is used in Spanish to refer or to call young people. La joven is its feminine form. Depending on the context, it can be translated as ‘young man’, ‘young woman’ or ‘young people’.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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