What does ‘chula’ mean in Spanish?
In Spanish, the words chula and its masculine version chulo are terms used to describe things and people that are adorable, endearing, pretty or have some type of charm. Both of these words can also be used as a way of fondly referring to someone.
In Mexican Spanish, chulo and chula are very popular words. So, in this article, I’ll explain to you in more detail how to use these words so you understand native speakers better and start to sound more natural yourself.
What is ‘chula’ in Spanish?
In Spanish, chula and chulo are informal terms to refer to things and people that are considered cute, beautiful or pretty. They can be used as adjectives and as nouns, and although their main translation is ‘pretty’, they can mean different things depending on the context.
- ‘Chulo’ and ‘chula’ can be translated as ‘pretty’, ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ or ‘beautiful’ when talking about something or someone’s beauty or endearing personality.
- If used as nouns, they work as affectionate nicknames and can be translated as ‘honey’, ‘sweetie’ or ‘baby’.
Let’s go through some examples to know how and when to use these words in real-life situations.
Chula & chulo as adjectives
As mentioned before, people use chula and chulo as synonyms of ‘pretty’, ‘cute’ or ‘beautiful’. So, when used as adjectives, they can be applied to things or people.
Although both of these terms are common in many Spanish-speaking countries, they’re especially popular in Mexico. When building sentences, remember that you can say ‘chulísima’ or ‘chulísimo’ or add ‘qué’ before the adjective to emphasize these words.
[Chula / chulo] + [complement]
Ese vestido está chulo.
That dress is cute.
Hoy te ves chulísima.
You look gorgeous today.
Qué chula está tu hija.
How pretty your daughter is.
Tus perritos están muy chulos.
Your dogs are very cute.
Take note: There are many different ways to call a girl beautiful in Spanish. In the case of ‘chula’, you can use this word as a non-romantic way to say that a person is very pretty or very attractive. As established before, this term can also be used to describe that a person has a nice or endearing personality.
As a nickname for someone
When people use chulo and chula as nouns, they aren’t actually trying to describe someone’s beauty, but instead, they are just using these words as a warm way to refer to a person. So, in this situation, these terms can be translated as ‘honey’, ‘sweetie’ or even ‘baby’ in romantic contexts.
As you probably know, Mexican people are very kind and friendly, so it’s not uncommon for people to refer to strangers as ‘chulos’ and ‘chulas’, especially when trying to sell something and among women.
[Chula / chulo] + [complement]
¿Cómo estás, mi chula?
How are you, my darling?
Chulo, ayúdame a cargar esto.
Baby, help me carry these bags.
Buenas noches, chula, ¿en qué te puedo ayudar?
Good evening, sweetie, how can I help you?
Take Note: In countries like Spain and Argentina, people call pimps ‘chulos’ so, keep this in mind to avoid any misunderstandings. If you’re not sure what meaning is being applied, remember that the context of the conversation will probably help you to notice how this word is being applied.
Other words for ‘chula’ and ‘chulo’ in Spanish
Here are some other words for chula in Spanish that you can add to your vocabulary:
Bonita and its masculine form bonito mean ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’. It’s very frequent in casual conversations.
Preciosa is the direct translation of ‘precious’ but it’s also often used as a way to say that something or someone is very beautiful. Its masculine form is ‘precioso’.
Hermosa and hermoso are the standard way of saying ‘beautiful’ but in some cases, it can sound too formal.