This little gem of a word takes us to Mexico, where it is frequently used as a synonym of regresar or devolver (“to go back”, “to return”). Its literal meaning is rebotar (“to bounce”), but it’s not commonly used this way. If you ask Spanish speakers outside of Mexico what it means, you may get blank stares, whereas within Mexico you’ll almost certainly get the answers given above.

Retachar can be used in both reflexive and non-reflexive ways. Here are some examples of reflexive uses:

  • “Me retaché a la casa porque se me había olvidado algo” = “I went back to the house because I’d forgotten something”
  • “¡Retáchate para casa!” = “Go home!”
  • “Tengo que inventar algo para que ella no se retache” = “I have to come up with an excuse to keep her from returning”

Here are some non-reflexive uses:

  • “Me retacharon a casa porque estaba enfermo” = “They sent me home because I was sick”
  • “Los agentes retacharon a los inmigrantes a sus países de origen” = “The agents sent the immigrants back to their home countries”
  • “Ahorita retacho” = “I’ll be right back” (this could also be said “Ahorita me retacho”, but the reflexive form is sometimes omitted in speech)

Retachar can also be expressed as de retache:

  • “Me mandaron de retache” = “They sent me back”
  • “En un momento estaré de retache” = “I’ll be back in a moment”

De retache also implies that one action caused another:

  • “Él se molestó conmigo y, de retache, con toda mi familia” = “He got upset with me and then with my whole family”

Here’s an example, taken from a personal account of a motorcycle accident, which highlights the literal meaning of retachar (“to bounce”):

  • “Maromeé, di vueltas como trapo y a la banqueta fui a retachar con la cabeza” = “I somersaulted, flipped over like a rag and bounced off the pavement with my head”

Like many regionalisms, this isn’t a word you desperately need to know. Regresar, devolver, volverse and rebotar are all handy alternatives which folks throughout the Spanish-speaking world will understand. If you spend any time in Mexico, however, or if you, like me, happen to be a fan of telenovelas, you’ll come across this word on occasion. And if someone shouts “¡Retáchate!” at you, you’ll know that you’d better go back the way you came.

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