Chafa – Translation and Meaning in English

Mexican Spanish has a lot of slang words and ‘Chafa’ is one of the most common ones. Depending on the context, means that an object is pirated or that it has bad quality. Therefore, it can also be used when talking about an ordinary, or vulgar person, and sometimes dull.

What does ‘chafa’ mean?

  • Translation #1: This Mexican word is widely used to say that an object or an activity has ‘bad quality’ or like you would say in English ‘shoddy’.
  • Translation #2: It also used to talk about people. In this context, ‘chafa’ could mean dull, ordinary or vulgar.
  • Translation #3: ‘Chafa’ also means that an object is pirated.
  • Translation #4: Mexican people use the expression ‘qué chafa’ as a synonym of ‘so bad’ or ‘what a crap’.

How to use ‘chafa’?

  • When you want to express that an object or activity has poor or bad quality, you use ‘chafa’ with the verb ‘Estar’.
  • On the contrary, if you want to say that an object is ‘pirated’, you need to use the verb ‘Ser’.
  • If you are using this word to describe a boring, ordinary or vulgar people, you also need to use ‘Ser’.
  • Sometimes, Mexican people build verbs with some of their slang words. This is the case of ‘chafa’. You use it to express that something is not working properly or that ‘broke down’. Furthermore, young Mexicans also use this verb to say that something is outdated.


Here are some sentences that are going to help you understand better how to use this word.

To talk about an object/activity’s poor or bad quality

No veas la película, está muy chafa Don’t watch the movie, it’s very bad

Nuestro equipo de fútbol jugó muy chafa Our soccer team played very bad

To say that an object is pirated

Están más baratos en la tienda, pero son chafas They are cheaper in the store, but they are pirated

No compres ropa ahí, todo mundo sabe que es chafa Don’t buy your clothes there! Everybody knows their products are pirated

To describe a person

No seas chafa y vamos a la fiesta Don’t be dull and let’s go to the party

¡Qué corriente! Es la persona más chafa que he conocido So tacky! He is the most ordinary person that I have ever met

As an expression

¡Qué chafa está la película! ¡Quiero mi dinero! The movie is so bad! I want my money back

With the verb ‘chafear’

¿Todavía tienes ese celular? ¡Ya chafeó, compra otro! Do you still have that phone? It’s outdated! Buy another one

Mi carro ya chafeó, necesito ir con el mecánico My car is not working properly, I need to go with the mechanic

Who Can You Use This Word With?

‘Chafa’ is a slang word, therefore, you want to use it with your friends and relatives. Using this word in informal situations will help you sound natural and fluent.

Other Ways to Say ‘Chafa’

Since not always are you going to be able to use ‘chafa’ or if you just want to improve your vocabulary, here are some synonyms you can use.

  • Pirata This is the direct translation of ‘pirated’. As a result, you would use it to describe illegal copies.
  • Corriente When you are describing that an object or activity has poor quality, you could also use the Spanish word ‘corriente’.
  • Aguado This word is the perfect substitute of ‘chafa’ when you are describing a boring person. In this context, ‘aguado’ means ‘dull’.

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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