Monday, June 18, 2012

No hay mejor medicina que un buen apapacho

I remember when I first heard this word, apapacho.  It was in one of my Spanish tutoring sessions oh-so long ago.  I really didn't understand what it meant even after my tutor explained it, but I blew it off thinking, "when am I ever really going to see this word? Probably never".   It turns out I was wrong. This word has popped up more times than I ever would have thought.

I'm pretty sure this is a  very Mexican word, but if you listen to enough Mexicans speak, you're bound to run into it, so pay close attention and let's get to it.

Before we can talk about what an apapacho is, we need to take a step back and talk about the word apapachar.

To apapachar is to show someone affection, a little TLC.  You know, hugs, kisses, caresses and just saying really sweet things, from a romantic perspective.

Yo no tengo con quien apapachar
I don't have anyone to be loving with

You can also apapachar your children.  For example, your child hurts him or herself so you give them a hug to make them feel better.

The truth is apapachar  covers giving someone any type of affection and TLC, and comforting them in their time of need whether it be a friend, significant other or a family member.  For example, taking care of someone when they're sick, like bringing them breakfast in bed.

Estoy enferma, tengo mucha gripá y tos...
Necesito que me apapachen 

I'm sick, I've got a bad cold and cough
I need you guys to take care of me

I translated that as to "take care of..", but it's really more like pampering someone.  You know, getting their medicine, making them breakfast in bed, that kind of thing.  Just being really sweet to them.

Let's take a look at other ways to say apapachar.

There's dar mimos (to spoil someone),  dar cariño / muestra de cariño (show affection), abrazar con cariño (to hug someone with affection), acariciar / darle caricias (to caress someone), querer (to love), abrazar (to hug), and consolar (to console) someone.  These are a lot more standard and well known.

Hopefully you've gotten an idea of what apapachar means.  Now we can move on to apapacho.

Yo te mando un apapacho
I'm sending you a hug

I'm not sure the word hug is really a direct translation, but let's not get hung up on words.  The idea we're trying to convey is that apapachar is to show someone affection, and an apapacho is a display of affection.

Here's some definitions of apapachar written by native speakers that I found on Google.  The English translations are mine.

Apapachar es dar cariño, amor, apoyo, a una persona querida o que tu sientes que lo necesita
Apapachar is to show affection, love, support to a person dear to you or that you feel needs it.

 Un apapacho lo da una madre a un hij@ que se ha caido de la bicicleta y se ha raspado.
An apapacho is the love (affection) a mother gives her child that's fallen off their bike and gotten bruised.

 Un apapacho lo da el amigo cuando tu pareja te ha dejado.
An apapacho is the support you give to a friend when their significant other has left them.

 Un apapacho lo das a tu pareja en una noche de lluvia y los dos están abrazados sin decir nada mirando la lluvia caer sobre el cristal de la ventana.
An hug is what you give your significant other on a rainy night when you're hugging each other without saying a word while watching the rain fall on the window.

¿Claro como el agua, no?
Crystal clear, right?

Here's another picture for you.  I don't know if it helps, but who can resist such a cute baby?

Hopefully you get the idea.  If not, just start tossing around an apapachar here and an apapacho there and it will all start to make sense soon enough.  



  1. Love the blog. Recently discovered it. I plan on reading and re-reading it throughout the future.

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Love the way you talk about the apapacho, and would be interested in learning more about it. It resonates with another term I recently learned about, "Apapachar proviene del náhuatl (apapachoa) que significa: "acariciar el alma" ." I think-feel (sentipienso) that the world needs a lot of *apapacho* !!! Wondering if you have introduced this concept to diverse people and groups, and/or at the level of the community?? Heartfelt thank you, gracias del corazón!

  3. You provide good information. I'm a longtime student of Spanish, and if Colombia and Mexico. You broaden my vocabulary.