Slang in Argentina can be almost impossible to understand if you are not used to it. And the Argentines tend to mix a lot of local slang into their Spanish. Even if you have more than a basic understanding of Spanish, Argentine Spanish can be hard to understand.
There is so much slang in Argentine Spanish that it has a special name: Lunfardo. The development of Lunfardo dates back to the arrival of the European immigrants to Argentina in the 1880s and the emergence of the Argentine tango.
At first, Lunfardo was a codified language used by the lower classes in Buenos Aires, but over time the tango popularized it. Today, words originating from Lunfardo are widely used as slang in Argentina, and almost every Argentine uses it.
To help you get a little better sense of slang in Argentina before visiting, I have put together this post of 20 phrases of Argentine slang!
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Boludo is properly one of the most used slang words in Argentina. It actually just means stupid or dumb. However, it has multiple uses:
On the one hand, it is a very common word used among friends in Argentina more as a nickname or a way of calling for attention or filling in empty gaps in a conversation (and yes, I will also use it daily when I speak with my Argentine friends). This is though a very informal way to express yourself.
On the other hand, boludo can also be used as an insult. It is not a word that you would want to say to somebody that you don’t know well and don’t have a good relationship to as they might take it badly.
Boludo takes feminine (boluda) or masculine (boludo) depending on the gender of the person you speak to.
Boludo can also be used as a verb boludear which refers to fooling around. And as a substantive/noun, boludez, describes an easy and almost stupid activity or task somebody is doing.
Pelotudo is used about somebody that you think is an idiot or a person that acts with a lack of intelligence.
Pelotudo works a bit like boludo (see above); it can both be an insult and a nickname/a way to call for attention among friends. But generally, pelotudo is more negative.
Whereas you can use boludo as a way of saying mate/dude, you cannot use pelotudo in the same way. Many Argentines will say boludo to their friend in every other sentence, but you will not say pelotudo that often. Hence, pelotudo has a stronger negative meaning to it.
Depending on who you are talking to pelotudo takes feminine (pelotuda), if speaking to a woman, or masculine (pelotudo) if you are speaking to a man.
It can also be used as a substantive/noun, pelotudez, referring to something that is stupid or dumb.
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Mina means a girl or a woman, however, it has kind of a negative sound to it. So, you should watch out for whom you use it!
Referring to a woman as a mina indirectly indicates that you are annoyed and think little of them.
Chamuyar is a very popular slang word in Argentina, and it refers to the act of seducing or persuading somebody.
It is most often used in relation to flirting or hitting on somebody – mostly, men hitting on women. But it can also just mean to speak with the intention of persuading without having a solid argument.
The word can also be used as an adjective: A person that is practicing the act of chamuyar is called a chamuyero in slang in Argentina.
#5 Dar bola or no dar bola?
Dar bola means giving something or somebody importance or to show interest.
Therefore, no dar bola refers to ignoring somebody.
Women who are tired of how chamuyero Argentine men can be might opt for no dales bola (e.g. ignore them).
Quilombo refers to something being unorganized or a mess.
It can also be used as an adjective for a person, un quilombrero, which is constantly in trouble or searching for trouble.
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Sarpado means that something is exceed or surpasses your expectations.
It can either be used in a positive or negative reaction to a situation or thing you hear or see (a little bit like buena/mala onda).
Coso is used to refer to a thing or an object which you have forgotten the name for.
So, you have properly heard the common Spanish word for “thing”, cosa, right? Well, of course, Argentines had to invent a new word for more or less the same thing: coso!
Directly translated, pedo means fart. However, in Argentine slang, it has a lot of different meanings depending on the situation:
- Ni en pedo” means not a chance.
- To be al pedo refers to not doing anything useful.
- En pedo means to be drunk.
- De pedo means being really lucky with something or something happening by a huge coincidence. For example, me encontré un billets de pedo (i.e. I found a note by (complete) chance).
- Cargar a pedos means to reproach someone. For example, mi mama me cagó a pedo por no lava los platos (i.e. my mum reproached me for not washing the dishes).
- A los pedos refers to something or somebody being really fast.
- El año del pedo refers to something that happened a long time ago.
So, be careful in what situation pedo is used or get you to use the word! As you might misunderstand the use of it… Or worse; you might be understood!
#10 Pibe or piba
Pibe means a boy or a young guy. It is the Argentine way of saying chico. Piba, on the other hand, means a girl or a young woman.
Piola is used to refer to something very good or nice. In Argentina, it can be used as another way of saying bueno (i.e. good).
Normally, piola is used about a person that you find sympatric or friendly. But it can also be used for things that you find attractive or interesting.
It is often used in combination with the prefix re when something or somebody is SUPER nice. Read more about the use of the prefix re and other useful words in Argentina!
#12 Guita, luca or mango
Guita refers to money or coins more generally. Thus, it is a very Argentine way of saying dinero (i.e. money).
In Argentine slang, mango can be both slang for money in general or the Argentine peso in commercial transactions.
For example, “No tengo un mango” means “I don’t have any money”. Whereas, “eso cuesta 1000 mangos” means that it costs 1,000 pesos.
Another slang for money is luca. If you hear an Argentine talking about un luca it refers to the Argentine slang for a thousand (un luca = 1,000).
Luca can also be used in plural; 10 lucas (=10 thousand).
Hincha-pelota is used to refer to a person that is very annoying or insisting on asking for something.
The word hincha is also used to refer to a fanatic football/soccer fan.
Canchero is used for somebody that is really good to manage situations or has a lot of experience in doing a certain activity.
To be canchero tend to have a certain negative sound to it, as it can also be used to describe a person that you find annoying because they are showing off as superior or saying egocentric phrases. For example, ¿Qué te haces el canchero? (which would properly be something like: “are you trying to be a dumbass?)
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#15 Tener facha
Tener facha means that somebody is handsome or good-looking.
Facha comes from the Italian word “faccia” which means face. So, the direct translation would be “to have face”.
It can also be used as an adjective for a good-looking person, and then it would be fachero (male) or fachera (female).
Flashear means to imagine, invent something, or not be realistic about something. It can both be used in a positive or negative way.
If someone tells you you are flashero (male) or flashera (female) it means that they think you are being dramatic or not realistic about something you are saying.
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Cheto refers to somebody wealthy, economically well-off, or high-class. But sometimes also with a negative sound to it as somebody narcissist or that think they are better than the rest.
Cheto can also be used for things or products that are of very good quality.
Trucho refers to something being fake or with lack of quality.
You might, for example, hear Argentines use billetes truchos when referring to fake pesos notes circulating in the economy.
Morfar means to eat and comes from the Italian word “morfa” meaning mouth.
In Argentine slang, morfi, which comes from morfar means a meal.
Groso refers to something being big or amazing. But it can also be used about a person that you think is amazing or great.
Or if you do something cool you might hear an Argentine say: ¡Que groso que sos! (i.e. how amazing you are!)
Remember that Groso is conjugated according to the person or thing you talk about. So, you will say groso if you are talking about a man and grosa if you are talking about a woman.
Did you learn some new words of Argentine slang for your Argentina trip? Or have you maybe already been to Argentina and recognized some of the words on the list? Is there any Argentine slang you think I missed out on? Please share your thoughts and knowledge below!