Origins of the Chabacano Insuga

The Chabacano insuga means to dry out some clothes in a clothesline. Of course, it can also mean to dry out anything in the sun. I recently found out that this word also exists in the Chavacano de Ternate. In the Caviteño dialect, it is also spelled as insuga and its meaning is to dry clothes or rice.

I recently bought a book by Esteban De Ocampo on the Chavacano de Ternate. In his book, De Ocampo explains that this word comes from the Spanish ensogar.

When I consulted the DRAE (Diccionario Real de la Ecademia Española) which is the ultimate authority in the Spanish dictionaries, I did find this word. The definition however is nowhere near the Chabacano meaning. According to the DREA, ensogar means:

Atar con soga (to tie with rope)

Forrar algo con soga, como se hace con los frascos y redomas (to cover something with rope like one does with bottles and flasks)

Camins' Chabacano dictionary does not have the word insuga but the word can be found in Santos' dictionary.

Anyway, here are some sentences using the Chabacano insuga:

Chabacano: Ya insuga ya tu el mga mojao ropa?
English: Have you hung the wet clothes on the clothesline yet?

Chabacano: Necesita ba insuga conel puerco si ta coce Lechon Kawali?
English: Does one need to dry the pork in the sun when cooking?

Chabacano: Luego ya yo ensuga con el camisa de aton, cuando alto ya el sol.
English: I’ll go hang the clothes in the sun later, when the sun is already high up.

I posted this article at Zamboanga de Antes (a Facebook group) and here are the responses that I have received:

As you may have observed, some group members provided very interesting insights as to the origins of the Chabacano insuga

According to, the word enxugar in Portuguese indeed means to dry or to dry using something like a towel. It is a synonym of the word secar in the Portuguese language according to some forum posts.

I also did further research on the word soga as the second comment above is pointing out that the Chabacano insuga may come from the Spanish word soga and it does appear that a clothesline or any rope for that matter can be called a soga. So it does make sense for a person to say ensogar when referring to to put something on a clothesline.

According to one of the comments below, this word could also have come from the Spanish enjugar which means to dry according to

Whether it came from Portuguese or Spanish is very debatable because these two languages influenced the Chabacano language greatly. Therefore I think either of these two theories can be correct.

For now, it is safe to say that the word comes from the Chavacano de Ternate which is the oldest Chabacano language and some would say is the mother of all the Chabacano languages.


  1. In standard Spanish is "enjugar"; but the form "ensugar" is archaic and dialectal Spanish. Portuguese "enxugar" is also a good candidate, of course.

  2. Yep, I second what the anonymous commenter said about "ensugar" being old Spanish:

    Modern Asturian seems to have "ensugar" and "enxugar" depending on the dialect, so it's very likely, as he points out, that dialectal Spanish also had these forms.

    In Brazilian Portuguese, my own usage is that "enxugar" is usually wipe using something (a towel, a cloth, etc.), but my mom would use it in a more generic way just like "secar":

    "Anda chovendo tanto que a roupa não tá enxugando." = It's been raining so much that the clothes won't dry. (I'd rather say "Anda chovendo tanto que a roupa não tá secando")

    In the WordReference post linked in this article, there are people pointing out both usages.