20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (2023)

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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Looking for more tips about Argentine Spanish? Check out these 10 phrases you should know before visiting Argentina!
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (2)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (3)

#1 Boludo

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.

20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (4)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (5)

#2 Pelotudo

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.

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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.

Are you interested in more Spanish-speaking slang? Check out one of the most popular posts on Becci Abroad: 10 phrases of Cuban slang you should know before visiting Cuba.

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20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (6)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (8)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (9)

#3 Mina

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.

#4 Chamuyar

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 ofhow chamuyero Argentine men can be might opt for no dales bola (e.g. ignore them).

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#6 Quilombo

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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20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (12)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (13)

#7 Sarpado

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).

#8 Coso

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!

#9 Pedo

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.

Apparently, pibe was used in tango songs to refer to a boy, but over the years it has turned into a popularly used word in Argentine Spanish.

#11 Piola

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.

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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!

20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (17)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (18)

#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 orthe 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).

#13 Hincha-pelota

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.

#14 Canchero

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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20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (19)

#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”.

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It can also be used as an adjective for a good-looking person, and then it would be fachero (male) or fachera (female).

#16 Flashear

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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20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (21)

#17 Cheto

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.

#18 Trucho

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.

#19 Morfar

Morfar means to eat and comes from the Italian word “morfa” meaning mouth.

In Argentine slang, morfi, which comes from morfar means a meal.

#20 Groso

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!)

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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!

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20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (24)
20 Expressions of Spanish Slang in Argentina You Should Know - Becci Abroad (25)

FAQs

What does Barbaro mean in Argentina? ›

bárbaro: great, cool.

How do you say lazy in Argentina? ›

FIACA = LAZINESS (noun)

No quiero salir hoy, tengo fiaca. I don't want to go out today, I'm tired and lazy. As with many other conditions in Spanish (like hambre, sed, sueño, etc), “fiaca” is almost exclusively used with “tener” when talking about how someone feels.

What does Onda mean in Argentina? ›

'Onda' is a very useful word for when you are in Argentina. Meaning either 'waves' or 'vibes', is it used constantly to describe what you think of someone or something. “¿Qué onda?” – what's it like? Or “Ella es muy buena onda” – she's a cool girl (good vibes).

How do you say love in Argentina? ›

Most people have learned that te amo means “I love you” in Spanish, and it does. But this is a very serious, deep love. It's used mostly between spouses and when announcing your love, such as while proposing. Another way to say “I love you” is te quiero.

What do you call a girl from Argentina? ›

Argentine is listed as the correct demonym: she is an Argentine.

What does pucha mean in Argentina? ›

(Argentina, Chile, Peru, colloquial) expresses pity, disappointment, sympathy quotations ▼synonyms ▲

What does Changa mean in Argentina? ›

Noun. changa f (plural changas) small job; odd job. job of a porter. part-time job (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay)

What does Trucho mean in Argentina? ›

Word forms: trucho, trucha informal. adjective (Andes, Argentina, Uruguay) mentiroso) lying ⧫ sneaky.

How do Argentines say beautiful? ›

Lindo/linda is more common in Latin America than Spain (and is also very common in Brazilian Portuguese). It's similar in meaning to bonito/bonita: it can mean “beautiful”, “pretty”, “lovely”, or “nice”. In Latin America you can also use lindo as an adverb. For example, ella canta lindo means “she sings beautifully.”

How do you say sorry in Argentina? ›

The word “disculpá” means “I'm sorry” and we usually use it in these situations: before asking a question to someone, especially when you're asking for a favor to a stranger, or to apologize for something (for example if you accidentally crash into a stranger, or if you're a tango dancer, when you accidentally crash ...

How do Argentinians say cool? ›

Zarpado. In Argentina, zarpado is often used to mean “cool.” That being said, zarpado can also refer to someone who has stepped out of line, so use it with caution.

What does Chabon mean in Argentina? ›

Chabon: a guy, a dude (Ex: Me gusta ese chabon./translation: I like that guy.) Copado/a: someone or something cool (Ex: Es una amiga muy copada./ translation: She's a very cool friend.)

What does que Honda mean? ›

The Meaning of 'Que Onda' in Spanish

It's a common informal greeting interpreted as “what's up?”. If you translate que onda in Spanish, it literally translates to “What wave?” in English. Ondas (waves) in the Spanish-speaking world don't only refer to waves of the ocean but also vibrational waves.

What does Cocho mean in slang? ›

(informal) (Latin America) Word forms: cocho, cocha. old. masculine noun/feminine noun. old man/old woman.

What does Opa mean in Argentina? ›

opa [m/f] BO AR UY derog. dumb person. 10. Colloquial.

How do Argentines say good morning? ›

Typical phrases that accompany greetings include “Buenos días” (“Good morning”), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon”) and “Buenas noches” (“Good evening”). People often exchange these greetings when passing one another on the street in smaller towns or among neighbours.

How do you say I miss you in Argentina? ›

Te extraño

This is the most common way to say “I miss you” in Latin American Spanish. The extended version of this phrase is te extraño a ti (literally, “I miss you to you”).

What does Tano mean in Argentina? ›

tano m (plural tanos) (slang, Argentina, Uruguay) an Italian (a person from Italy or of Italian ancestry)

What does Wacho mean in Argentina? ›

26) Wacho. This Argentine slang is best described as a term for a “rascal”, or a mischievous individual. It's normally meant in a well-intentioned way, and so you can use it with friends, or even kids.

How do you say fat in Argentina? ›

They often use nicknames like 'gordo/a' (fat); 'flaco/a' (skinny) in an endearing manner.

What is a Turbina? ›

jet-pipe; turbine.

What does cajeta mean in Argentina? ›

feminine noun. 1. (Latin America) (= dulce de leche) fudge ⧫ soft toffee.

What does Chota mean in Argentina? ›

Maybe you already know, but in the "Rio de la Plata" at least (basically, Uruguay and Argentina), chota is a quite popular slung for referring to the male sexual organ.

What does Chula mean in Argentina? ›

What does chula mean? Chula is Spanish slang for “cute” or “a beautiful woman,” often seen in mami chula (“hottie”).

What does Guacha mean in Argentina? ›

Guacho (Meaning: Orphan)

In Argentina and many other countries, it's a derogatory word used to describe someone who has lost both their parents. No, no, no, no tiene padres, es guacha.

What is PEKI mean? ›

From Turkish peki (“good, well, OK”).

What does Papi mean in Argentina? ›

Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish, but in many Spanish-speaking cultures, particularly in the Caribbean, it is often used as a general term of affection for any man, whether it's a relative, friend, or lover.

What does Piola mean in Argentina? ›

invariable adjective (Argentina) (informal) (= astuto) smart ⧫ clever.

What does Tio mean in Argentina? ›

Tío/Tía. How do you say it? _“_Tio/Tia” What does it mean and how is it used? While these literally mean “uncle,” and “aunt,” they're also used informally to generally refer to another person.

What does Chico mean in Argentina? ›

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.

How do you say condoms in Argentina? ›

But in an Argentine bedroom, forro usually refers to a "condom," as it does in this line from the show Disputas.

What does Mina mean in Argentina? ›

Both in Buenos Aires and in Montevideo, the term mina is traditionally used to refer to a beautiful and sexually attractive woman.

How do Argentina say thank you? ›

“Gracias” – “Thank you” or “Thanks” “Muchas gracias” – “Thank you a lot” or ”Thanks a lot” “De nada” – “You are welcome” or “It was nothing” (directly translated)

How do you say friend in Argentina? ›

–Che is the word Argentines use to call each other, a bit like 'hey' in English, and is usually used at the start of a sentence. It is often followed by boludo, which can mean friend, mate or idiot, depending on the context.

How do Argentines say goodbye? ›

Also, Argentines prefer to say goodbye to each other with their version the Italian salutation ciao (chau) instead of adiós, and the latter has a connotation of finality (as if you'll never see the person again).

How do you say maybe in Argentina? ›

Quizá vs quizás. Quizá and quizás are the two of the most common ways of translating “maybe” in Spanish.

What does Pato mean in Argentina? ›

Argentina is world famous for football (soccer) and polo, but the game that since 1953 has been enshrined in law as the country's official national sport is somewhat less well-known. Named “pato” - “duck” in Spanish - it has nothing to do with racing birds, and is much more adrenaline-fuelled than the name suggests.

What does boluda mean in Argentina? ›

Boludo or boluda is a slang word in Argentina that roughly means something more like "jerk." Use it with caution in the streets of Buenos Aires because it can be quite an insult, depending on the context. But between girlfriends, it's almost another way to say "hey... you." Topics Expressions.

What does Pampa mean in Argentina? ›

The Pampas (from the Quechua: pampa, meaning "plain") are fertile South American low grasslands that cover more than 1,200,000 square kilometres (460,000 sq mi) and include the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, and Córdoba; all of Uruguay; and Brazil's southernmost state, Rio Grande ...

What does Onda mean in slang? ›

Ultimately, we chose ONDA, a Spanish word meaning wave, vibe, or ripple. It's commonly used in the expression, “¿Que onda?” meaning, “What's up?” It is also frequently used to refer to the 'vibe' of a person, place, or experience.

What does porque o que mean? ›

Porque, as noted, is the subordinating conjunction “because.” Porqué with an accent marking the second syllable is a noun meaning “reason” or “motive.” Por que as two words, no accent markings, means “why” (e.g., ¿Por que estas triste? or Why are you sad?).

What does vamos que mean? ›

Vamos – Let's go or Let's do it

Example: Vamos, que se hace tarde. Come on/Let's go, it's getting late. or. ¡Vamos, equipo!

What does Thocht mean? ›

Noun. thocht (plural thochts) thought. anxiety, care, trouble.

What does Meatwagon mean? ›

meat wagon (plural meat wagons) (chiefly historical) A vehicle used for the transportation of meat, usually refrigerated and traditionally of a non-motorized type pulled by horses. quotations ▼ (slang) An ambulance.

What does quintera mean? ›

masculine noun. (= agricultor) farmer.

How do you say cool in Argentina slang? ›

Zarpado. In Argentina, zarpado is often used to mean “cool.” That being said, zarpado can also refer to someone who has stepped out of line, so use it with caution.

What can you not say in Argentina? ›

10 Things Not to Say While in Buenos Aires
  • #1: “I don't eat red meat” ...
  • #2: Tengo mierda.
  • Miedo = fear, but mierda? ...
  • #4: Soy Americano. ...
  • #5: “I hate how it's so dirty here/the food is so tasteless/there's no Wal-Mart… ...
  • #6: Voy a coger un taxi. ...
  • #7: “I don't like staying out late” ...
  • #8: Me gusta Juan/María.
22 Jan 2010

How do you say that's cool in Argentina? ›

Copado/a means cool or awesome. You can slide in a “qué copado” in any instance to sound more local. “Che boludo, ¡esa chabona es re copada!” (Hey bro, that girl is super cool!)

How do you say pretty in Argentina? ›

If you'd like to say “pretty” in Spanish, you would generally say “bonita.” That applies to feminine objects as well as to women being described as pretty.

What does thumbs up mean in Argentina? ›

Argentines are touchers and stand close to each other when speaking. Do not back away. ▪ The “O.K.” and “thumbs up” gestures are considered vulgar. ▪ Hitting the palm of the left hand with the right fist means “I don't believe what you are saying”

What does DNI mean in Argentina? ›

Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI (which means National Identity Document) is the main identity document for Argentine citizens, as well as temporary or permanent resident aliens (DNI Extranjero).

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