‘Chimuelo’ – Meaning / In English

In short – ‘chimuelo’ is Spanish for ‘toothless’, but only in Mexico. It’s what’s known as a “Mexicanism”, which is basically a word unique to Spanish as spoken in Mexico.

Many words in Mexican Spanish have borrowed sounds, suffixes, and other linguistic aspects from native languages such as Náhuatl, Mayan or any other of the 66 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico (364 if we include all the different variants!).

This makes Mexico one of the 10 richest countries in terms of linguistic diversity in the entire world, and words like ‘chipil’, ‘chamaca’ and ‘chimuelo’ are just some of the MANY examples of cultural fusion between Spanish and the indigenous languages.

Despite the fact that ‘chimuelo’ isn’t really used in Spain or in other Latin American countries, it’s not considered colloquial, so it’s a perfectly good adjective to use regardless of the situation.

Anyway, let’s take a look at what it actually means!




Uses / Meanings of ‘chimuelo

Chimuelo’ can be used in the following ways –

  • To describe a person missing one or more teeth in Mexican Spanish

  • The name of the dragon character “Toothless”, in the Latin American dubbing of the animated movie “How to train your dragon”


To describe a person missing one or more teeth in Mexican Spanish

‘Chimuelo’ is thought to be a fusion of either the Náhuatl word ‘chichitl’ (which means ‘saliva’ in English) or the Mayan ‘chamil’ (meaning ‘molar’) AND the Spanish ‘muela’ (or ‘molar’).

chi + muela – chimuela (feminine) / chimuelo (masculine)


Just remember that in Spanish all adjectives must agree in gender and number with the noun they modify.

Let’s take a look at some examples –

En nuestras fotos de cuando éramos niños siempre salimos sonriendo chimuelos.

In our childhood photos we’re always sporting toothless smiles.


Alma – ¿Por qué sonríes tan raro?

Gibrán – Es que me rompí un diente. No he podido ir al dentista y ahora estoy chimuelo.



Alma – Why are you smiling so awkwardly?

Gibrán – Because I broke a tooth. I haven’t been able to go to the dentist and now it’s fallen out.


Niña – ¡Mira mamá, estoy chimuela!

Madre –  Vamos a ponerlo bajo tu almohada para el Ratón de los Dientes*.



Girl – Look mom, I’ve lost a tooth!

Mother – Let’s put it under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy.

*Erika’s note – did you know that there’s no Tooth Fairy in Mexico? Instead we have “el Ratón de los Dientes” (or ‘the Tooth Mouse’), otherwise known as “el Ratoncito Pérez” in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.


The name of the dragon character “Toothless” in the Latin American dubbing of the animated movie “How to train your dragon”

Even though ‘chimuelo’ is a Mexicanism, the Latin American dubbing of the beloved franchise “How to train your dragon” decided to call one of the dragons “Chimuelo” (his English name is “Toothless”, so it kinda makes sense).

Una cita de “Cómo entrenar a tu dragón: El mundo oculto”

Nuestro mundo no los merece, Chimuelo…aún. Ve, Chimuelo, ve.



A quotation from “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

Our world doesn’t deserve you … yet. Go, Toothless, go.



Why is this peculiar?

Well, in Spain “Toothless” was called “Desdentao” (or ‘Desdentado’), which is the official Spanish word for ‘toothless’, and it would have been fine for the Latin American dubbing, but they went with ‘Chimuelo’ despite the fact that most Latin American countries actually have their own local word for ‘toothless’.

Here are a few of the most interesting –

  • Mellao (Puerto Rico)

  • Cholco (Guatemala)
     
  • Mueleta (Costa Rica)

  • Desmuelado (Perú)

The dubbing was done in Mexico (hence the decision!), and now people from all over Latin America love the character (even if they aren’t familiar with the word!).


Chimuelo’ pronunciation

‘Chi’ is said like the ‘chee’ in ‘cheese’, ‘mue’ sounds like ‘mweh’ and ‘lo’ is said like ‘loh’.

/ chee-mweh-loh /


Similar expressions to ‘chimuelo

Molacho

This is another Mexican word for ‘toothless’, albeit way less popular than ‘chimuelo’ itself. 

El vecino es un viejito molacho.

The neighbor is a toothless old man.

Molenque

‘Molenque’ basically means the same thing as ‘molacho’.

They’re both derived from the Spanish word ‘muela’ (or ‘molar’ in English) and they’re pretty much used exclusively by older generations in Mexico.

Me caí de la bicicleta, fui a dar de cara al piso y quedé molenque.

I fell off my bike, hit the ground face down and ended up losing all my teeth.

Cholco

In Guatemala and El Salvador, a ‘chimuelo’ is a ‘cholco’, and it’s very likely that this word derives from the Mayan ‘xolco’, which is actually a surname in Mexico!

This isn’t that surprising when you consider that territories from all of these countries were once part of the Mayan Empire.

Ese pobre perro está cholco.

That poor dog doesn’t have any teeth.


Final thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this fun Mexican word and that you dazzle your Mexican pals with your newfound linguistic knowledge; I’m sure you’ll surprise them if you ever whip it out!

Oh, and if you wanna dig a little deeper into Mexican Spanish, I suggest you head on over to our article on the meaning of mero mole.

Spoiler: it doesn’t have anything to do with the sauce!

¡Hasta pronto!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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