If you have had the chance of spending some time in Venezuela, or Cuba or in any other Caribbean country or if you have watched any Venezuelan soap opera on TV, there are great chances that you have heard at least once the word chévere (meaning good, cool). And in fact it is quite likely that you’ve found yourself saying chévere once and again to locals talking to you while on holidays in the Caribbean. But, have you ever thought about which is the etymological origin of this word?
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Chevere and Its African Origin
According to some language experts, chévere is a neologism derived from the African language Efik, which was introduced to Cuba at the beginning of the 19th Century by a group of African immigrants that came from Nigeria as slaves. These slaves formed the secret society Abakua and, for over two centuries, they used the word chévere as part of the songs they sang during their public ceremonies. As these songs were made popular in recordings made by popular Cuban artists of the 1950’s such as Cachao and Tito Puente, the word chévere and others from the Efik language started being used in other Caribbean countries, especially in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Colombia.
Popular Versions of the Etymological Origin of “Chévere”
There are quite a few popular versions of the birth of the word chévere. For instance, it is believed that it derives from the name of the General Jacques Francois De Chevert.
The Cuban philologist José Juan Arrom believes that the origin can be traced back to Guillermo de Croy, Lord of Chievres, servant of Charles I and thief who abused of his position when he went to Castile in 1517 with the king, giving birth to the revolution of the Castilian Communities (1520-1521).