In short – ‘Chípil’ is a word used in Mexico to describe someone who is sad or melancholic and therefore demands a lot of affection / attention.
‘Chípil’ actually comes from the náhuatl* word ‘tzípitl‘, which was used to refer to small children who felt that their pregnant mothers weren´t paying them enough attention.
It´s become so popular in everyday Mexican Spanish that it’s now used to refer to practically anyone who’s in a state of grief.
*Erika’s note – Náhuatl is the language originally spoken by the Mexica, a pre-Hispanic culture of central Mexico. It’s actually still spoken in certain regions of Mexico today!
Uses / Meanings of ‘chípil’
- As a way of expressing sadness / a need for attention
- As a way of referring to the youngest child in a family
As a way of expressing sadness / a need for attention
If you ever notice that a friend or family member looks miserable and in need of attention, you could describe them as ‘chípil’.
Claudia – ¿Qué pasó, por qué no te has levantado de la cama?
Octavio – Estoy chípil porque Mariana me dejó.
Claudia – Hey, why haven’t you gotten out of bed?
Octavio – I’m heartbroken because Mariana left me.
Hija – Mamá, ¿puedes venir a mi casa más tarde? Me siento solo.
Mamá – Sí, al rato te llevo de comer y te apapacho para que se te quite lo chípil.
Daughter – Mom, can you come over to my house later? I feel lonely.
Mom – Yes, I’ll bring you something to eat and hug your woes away.
No estés chípil Pablo; con la medicina te vas a sentir mejor pronto.
Don’t be sad Pablo; the medicine will make you feel better soon.
Erika – Rosa, tu hijo está llorando, ¿le pasó algo?
Rosa – Ni al caso*, está chípil porque ya va a nacer su hermana y ahorita no es el centro de atención.
Erika – Rosa, your son’s crying, did something happen to him?
Rosa – Nope, he’s just throwing a tantrum because his sister’s on the way and he’s not the center of attention.
*Erika’s top tip – ‘ni al caso’ is a super useful way of dismissing something as untrue or senseless.
As a way of referring to the youngest child in a family
In Yucatan and Tabasco, ‘chípil‘ is often used to refer to the youngest child in the family.
This use is again related to the náhuatl word ‘tzípitl’.
Carlitos es el chípil de la familia.
Carlitos is the youngest in the family.
‘Chí’ is said like ‘chee’ and ‘pil‘ like ‘peel‘.
/ chee-peel /
Similar expressions to ‘chípil’
Same meaning, different word.
To be ‘bajoneado’ or to have a ‘bajón’ means being emotionally down. It´s a bit like saying ‘(to feel) down’ or ‘depressed’ in English.
Ando bien bajoneado desde que me divorcié de Paola.
I’ve been depressed ever since I divorced Paola.
De seguro estás bajoneado por el desmadre* que hiciste ayer en la fiesta de David.
I’m sure you’re feeling down because of the mess you made yesterday at David’s party.
Erika’s note – ‘un desmadre‘ is a VERY Mexican way of saying that something is a big ol’ mess!
A person is ‘achicopalado’ when he/she is feeling discouraged.
No se me achicopale compadre…ya verá que todo va a salir bien mañana en la entrevista.
Don’t get discouraged, bro … I’m sure your interview tomorrow is gonna go well.
Rubén – ¿Qué pasó Karina? Te veo toda achicopalada.
Karina – Sí, mi mamá ha estado enferma y la van a tener que operar. Me da miedo que le vaya a pasar algo.
Rubén – What’s the matter Karina? You seem down.
Karina – Yeah, my mom has been sick, and they’re gonna have to operate on her. I’m afraid something bad is gonna happen to her.
When you’re feeling down and maybe crave a bit of attention, don’t hesitate to tell your Mexican friends that you’re ‘chípil’. They’ll immediately understand and are sure to give you a good dose of hugs and words of encouragement to make you feel better.
Oh, and definitely check out our article on ‘nel’ if you fancy getting to grips with more Mexican Spanish!
¡Hasta la próxima!