Mochar / Mocho

A seemingly-innocuous word, mochar technically translates as “to cut off” and a mocho is someone who is missing a limb or body part. For most Spanish speakers, and certainly for beginning students, this is the best and most common definition. There are, however, a large number of colloquial uses of this word, not of all of which relate to its primary meaning. Mexico is, once again, the country where many of these colloquiums are found.

I once heard the expression “¿Con qué te mochas?” and thought I was being asked “What are you cutting yourself with?” As it turns out, mocharse also means “to come up with money” or, as some might say, “to pony up.” I was being asked how much I was going to give to a specific cause (and the answer was nada).

The adjective mocho usually refers to an amputee, but in Mexico it can mean this or:

1) something incomplete or incomprehensible. For example, hablar mocho means to speak in a mumbled, garbled way.

2) a holier-than-thou person. A synonym of mocho is persona persignada (alternatively, persinada) which refers to the action of crossing oneself.

3) someone without education, more commonly called an inculto.

Upon checking the dictionary, I found several other definitions for this word. In some parts of the Spanish-speaking world, it can refer to a person’s head, a machete, a mop or a kitty cat. While I’ve not heard these uses in real life, learners should be prepared to hear mochar/mocho in any context. If you happen to be studying in a particular country, find out what the local meanings of mochar are and experiment with its use… just don’t be surprised when the people from the country next door can’t understand you.

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