In short – ‘chiquita’ is the diminutive form of ‘chica’ and translates to ‘short’, ‘small’ or ‘girl’ in English.
It’s also a colloquial expression, so it’s meanings can vary greatly depending on context. For example, it can be used to describe a very small object, as an affectionate pet name for a relative (both pretty innocuous meanings) OR to patronize and/or harass women (gulp!).
Anyway, let’s find out everything there is to know about ‘chiquita’ in Spanish!
Uses / Meanings of ‘chiquita’
‘Chiquita’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a synonym of ‘small’
- To refer to a young girl
- As a pet name amongst relatives and couples
- As a ‘piropo’ (or catcalling)
As a synonym of ‘small’
Although it’s a diminutive, ‘chiquita’ can actually be used interchangeably with ‘chica’ (or ‘small’). However, ‘chiquita’ in this context does sometimes imply that the object is ‘very small’ OR ‘cute’.
It’s a feminine adjective (the masculine form is ‘chiquito’), so it can only be used to modify feminine nouns.
Carol – ¿Me pasas una taza chiquita, por favor?
Beto – ¿O sea una de té?
Carol – Could you pass me a small cup, please?
Beto – You mean a teacup?
¡Qué manos tan chiquitas tienes!
Your hands are so teeny!
Similarly, it can also be used to refer to a ‘short woman’ –
Mariana es tan chiquita que parece una niña!
Mariana is so petite that she looks like a little girl!
To refer to a young girl
‘Chiquita’ can also refer to a ‘little girl’ or a ‘toddler’; it’s often used as a pet name for the youngest girl in a family –
Madre – ¿Dónde está la chiquita?
Abuela – Está en el jardín jugando con sus primos.
Mother – Where’s the little one?
Grandma – She’s in the garden playing with her cousins.
Un padre a su hija pequeña
¿Quién es mi chiquita linda?
A father to his small daughter
Who’s my pretty little girl?
As a pet name amongst relatives and couples
Don’t be surprised if you hear people refer to their beloved one as ‘chiquita’ (or ‘chiquito’!).
Abuelo – Chiquita, ¡qué bien huele eso! ¿Estás haciendo empanadas?
Abuela – Sí, les estoy enseñando al nieto a hacerlas.
Grandpa – Chiquita, that smells delicious! Are you making empanadas?
Grandma – Yes, I’m teaching our grandson to make them.
¿A dónde quiere ir mi chiquita en nuestro aniversario?
Where does my cutie pie want to go for our anniversary?
As a ‘piropo’ (or catcalling)
There’s a darker side to this expression, and that is in the form of a ‘piropo’.
‘Piropos’ are popular expressions used as a form of flattery – or at least that’s how some dictionaries still construe them –, but they’re mostly used to catcall / harass women.
In the case of ‘chiquita’, it’s often a way to infantilize and/or patronize women –
En la calle
¿A dónde vas tan guapa, chiquita?
In the street
Where are you going all dressed-up, little girl?
The first syllable of ‘chiquita’ sounds like ‘chee’ (as in ‘cheek’), the second is said like ‘kee’ (as in ‘keen’) and the last one sounds like ‘tah’.
/ chee-kee-tah /
‘Mi chiquita’ meaning
‘Mi chiquita’ is mostly an affectionate way to refer to a daughter, girlfriend, wife, etc.
Una madre a su hija
Ya estoy en casa, mi chiquita linda. Te traje una sorpresa.
A mother to her daughter
I’m home, my precious little girl. I brought you a surprise.
If a stranger says it to you, it becomes a ‘piropo’ and it’s pretty much a way of stating closeness not yet earned or deserved, oftentimes part of a power demonstration by the men using it.
Is ‘chiquita’ offensive?
Well, the answer is: it all depends on the context!
When used as an adjective to describe someone short or as an affectionate way to refer to a person you know and trust, well, it’s pretty much harmless!
‘Chiquita’ may be a way of expressing closeness and affection, but it can also come across as patronizing (or even as a form of harassment!) when used to address strangers.
Natalia – Eres muy chiquita. ¿Todos son chaparritos en tu familia?
Mónica – Sí, ¡mi mamá es más chaparra que yo!
Natalia – You’re very petite. Is everyone short in your family?
Monica – Yes, my mom is even shorter than me!
En una oficina
Carlos: A ver, chiquita, ¿qué puesto dices que tienes?
Gabriela: Mi nombre es Gabriela y estoy en Recursos Humanos. ¿Así se refiere a todas sus compañeras de trabajo?
In a office
Carlos – Hey, sweet cheeks, what position did you say you held?
Gabriela – My name is Gabriela and I’m in Human Resources. Is that how you speak to all your female co-workers?
Similar expressions to ‘chiquita’
This is the diminutive of ‘chaparra’, which means ‘short’ in Spanish. It’s often used to “soften” the adjective ‘chaparra’, but it’s also a popular pet name!
¡Mi chaparrita me regaló boletos para mi banda favorita!
My girlfriend gave me tickets to my favorite band!
This colloquial expression is used to refer to a ‘young girl’, as a pet name OR as a ‘piropo’!
La nena se veía muy linda en sus overoles de unicornio.
The kid looked so cute in her unicorn overalls.
Hopefully you now have all the tools needed to identify the situations in which ‘chiquita’ is appropriate and those in which it really isn’t!
Oh, and if you wanna learn about a similar colloquial word, then head over to our article on ‘chamaca’ next.