Che (interjection)

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Che (Spanish: [tʃe], Portuguese: tchê [ˈtʃe]; Valencian: xe [ˈtʃe]) is an interjection (i.e. a vocative expression) commonly used in Argentina, Uruguay and in the Spanish autonomous community of Valencia. In the Southern Cone (especially in Rioplatense Spanish), it is a form of colloquial slang used in a vocative sense as "friend", and thus loosely corresponds to expressions such as "mate", "pal", "man", "bro", or "dude", as used by various English speakers.[1] As a result, it may be used either before or after a phrase: "Man, this is some good beer", or "Let's go get a beer, bro." It can be added to an explicit vocative to call the attention, playing the role of "Hey", for instance: "Che, Pedro, ¡mirá!", "Hey, Pedro, look!". Che is also utilized as a casual speech filler or punctuation to ascertain comprehension, continued interest, or agreement. Thus che can additionally function much like the English words "so", "right", or the common Canadian phrase "eh".

Che can also be found in some parts of Paraguay, Brazil ("tchê"), Peru, and Bolivia, as a result of their close vicinity to Argentina. In other Hispanic American countries, the term che can be used to refer to someone from Argentina. For example, the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara earned his nickname from his frequent use of the expression, which to his Cuban comrades in the Cuban Revolution, was a curious feature of his idiolect.[1] As a result, Guevara is popularly known simply as el Che (the Che) in many Latin American countries.


The exact origin of che is unclear, and possibly derived from several indigenous South American languages:

First recorded use[edit]

The first recorded use of che in Spanish America appears to be in Esteban Echeverría's short story The Slaughter Yard (El matadero), published posthumously in 1871 but set in 1838-9 in the Rosas era.

Che, negra bruja, salí de aquí antes de que te pegue un tajo—exclamaba el carnicero.[4]

("Hey, you black witch, get out of here before I gash you", said the butcher.)

Other uses[edit]

  • Che or Xe: In Spain, che is widely used in Valencia and Terres de l'Ebre, Catalonia (written as xe), as an interjection since ancient times. With the spelling "xe" in Valencian, its main use is to express protest, surprise or exasperation. Che! is one of the symbols of the Valencian identity to the point where, for example the Valencia CF is often referred to with the nickname "Che Team".[citation needed]
  • In the Philippines (a former Spanish colony), "che" is used as a means of dismissing another person or interrupting another person's speech, similar in context to the English expression "Shut up!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Red Heat: Conspiracy, Murder and the Cold War in the Caribbean, Alex von Tunzelmann, Simon and Schuster, page 1955
  2. ^ Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1876), Vocabulario y tesoro de la lengua Guarani (ó mas bien Tupi) 2, Frick, p. 119b 
  3. ^ Federico Barbará (1879), Manual ó vocabulario de la lengua pampa, Casavalle, p. 64 
  4. ^ See page 225 of the first uniform edition of Echeverría's works, ed. Juan María Gutierrez, Mayo, Buenos Aires, 1874, Vol. 5 [1], accessed 22 November 2015.

External links[edit]