Ex. “Jose es un cutre, cada cosa que hace es una chapuza.”
Translation: “Jose is so cheap and lazy, he does everything half ass.”
What does it mean?
The term, chapuza, refers to a job that is poorly done or that is started but not finished. It’s difficult to translate, but we might say “a half-assed job” in English, or to do something “halfway” (‘a medias’ in Spanish). It is often used to describe a quickly or poorly done repair, similar to “a quick fix.” Someone who does a bad job is called “un chapuzas” or “un chapucero,” while the bad job itself is called “una chapuza.”
What’s the origin?
The word, chapuza, comes from the French word, chapuis, meaning a thick or heavy block of wood that was used to guillotine prisoners’ heads on. Since the heads were often guillotined incorrectly, the word began to be used in other contexts.
One more example for the road:
Ex. “Mi profesor siempre me llamaba chapuzas, pues nunca hacía las cosas bien.”
Translation: “My teacher always called me a slacker because I never did anything well.”
Watch out! (or as they say in Spanish, “¡ojo!”) Not to be confused with chapuzón!
Usually, the Spanish suffix “ón” is augmentative, a.k.a. it makes the word describe something greater in size. For example, “un hombre” (a man) would become “un hombretón” (a big, tough man). However, in the case of chapuza, if you add this suffix, chapuzón, this is not the case. Darse un chapuzón means ‘to take a dip’ in the water. Interesting, right?
Example with chapuzón:
Ex. “Voy a darme un chapuzón en la piscina.”
Translation: “I’m going to take a dip in the pool.”