Chuchi – No Good Translation

Cat!Chuchi can be defined as fancy or big headed, but that’s not really a good translation. Let me try to explain “chuchi” in the context of Paraguayan culture.

In Paraguay things are used until they don’t exist; it is hot; and there is a lot of sand that turns to mud when it rains. Outside of larger towns the only option you have for shopping are little house-front shops. People here recycle—my family gets their milk delivered in old 2 liter soda bottles. Even people with running water tend to wash, or at least rinse, their clothes by hand. The sun scorches, but it also dries things quickly.

Despite the sand and ants (which are everywhere) neatness and cleanliness are part of the culture. Some people even iron their underwear. But “nice” attire, at least outside the capital, Asunción, takes on a completely different form than it does in the US. For men slacks and a polo, not necessarily tucked in, is good for almost any occasion requiring formal dress. For women, capris with wedge sandals and a short sleeve (or long sleeve) blouse will do. In US terms, business casual is formal. The well-dressed person is well kept, clean, and without wrinkled clothes.

Enter chuchi.

Chuchi is used to describe something that is nicer than it needs to be, or particularly nice. Chuchi shoes shouldn’t be worn when regular shoes could be. A house with extra frills, beyond the functional, like new, detailed kitchen cabinets might be chuchi. If someone looks especially well put together they might be chuchi.

Chuchi is excess. It’s not negative, like we view it in the US. It’s a word used to show people you noticed their extra effort.