Tag Archives: argentina slang spanish language linguistics

Argentinian Slang

año verde [m] [fixed phrase] lit. ‘(the) green year’ an imaginary time where extraordinary things happen; usually in the phrase Argentina año verde. (This would need pages of explanation. In short, suppose the country is ruled by honest politicians and all public services work fine; that’s Argentina año verde.)

apoliyar [v]: to sleep. (Proper spelling, I think, should be apolillar, from polilla ‘moth’; the verb apolillarse [ps-ref] means ‘(of clothes) to become old-looking and unwearable because of being eaten by moths’ and by extension ‘to become decrepit’, and it may have something to do, but is not directly related in meaning.)

arriba [n, adv] above, the place above; fig. the higher spheres of power; [fixed phrase] de arriba free of charge, esp. granted by someone one doesn’t know or expect, or through sheer luck (lit. ‘from above’).

atorrante/a [adj, m, f]: (being) a scum, a good-for-nothing, someone who leads a useless life (generally meaning not working, not studying, just going to parties and having fun). When used of women: easy, whorish, a whore (in figurative or literal sense), esp. one who is ‘known’ by every men wherever she goes. When said of children or young boys, the word can even be appreciative and friendly (un atorrante as ‘a cute little imp’ or ‘a sharp boy’ à la Bart Simpson in a good day).

autobombo [m, uncountable] self-advertising. Etymology: from auto- ‘self-‘ and bombo, a kind of big drum used a lot in public demonstrations, strikes, etc., presumably to call for attention.

baboso/a [m, f, adj] a skirt-chaser (also the same sense applied to women), lusty, crazy about (the opposite) sex. Lit. ‘drooly’.

bacán [m, adj] a person who lives or enjoys living a comfortable life and being served, without having to worry. Etymology unknown, maybe something to do with bacanal ‘wild party’, from Baco (the Roman god of wine).

bagarto [m] 1 alt. form of bagayo; 2 [rare] a burden, a problem left on one’s hands, used e. g. of hospital patients who are dumped in E. R. in a very bad condition.

bagayo [m] an ugly person (esp. used by men referring to women, no matter the grammatical gender, but also increasingly used by women towards men). Alt. form: bagarto. [John Cowan tells me that there’s an American English slang equivalent, dog. Thanks, John!]

bancar [v] 1 to support, to be supportive of, to help (lit. ‘to support financially’, from banco ‘bank’); also, by extension, to wait for, to to be there for; 2 bancarse [ps-ref] to stand, to tolerate, to put up with. Examples: Mis viejos me bancaron los estudios ‘My parents supported my studies’; Te banqué cuando necesitabas un amigo ‘I helped you when you needed a friend’; Bancáme un ratito acá ‘Wait for me here just a while’; Se bancó un montón de insultos ‘He stood up to a lot of insults’; Ya no te banco más ‘I don’t (won’t) support you anymore’ or ‘I can’t stand you anymore’.

barbaridad [f] 1 [negative sense] outrageous thing; esp. in the phrase ¡qué barbaridad! [interj]; 2 [appreciative] very good thing, well-done work, spectacular result; can be used as an adjective (quedó una barbaridad).

bárbaro/a [adj, interj] [appreciative] great, very good, spectacularly good; [no connotation] great, important, serious (as in a mess or disaster). (This word has undergone an important semantic change; as a result, the act of a bárbaro ‘barbarian’ is now called barbárico ‘barbaric’ instead of the ‘correct’ form bárbaro, to avoid confusion — the shortest form doesn’t sound appropriately solemn.)

basurear [vt] treat someone badly, esp. in a consistent fashion; forrear. Formed on basura ‘garbage’.

birra [f] [Italian, same origin as English beer] beer, a bottle of beer.

bolazo [m] exaggeration, obvious lie, bullshit (not interjectional); impossible or incredible activity pictured as real or possible (esp. in a movie or TV show). Etymology unknown; seems to be bol- ‘ball’ + the suffix -azo used for violent movements or blows. Example: “Misión Imposible” fue un bolazo (‘Mission: Impossible was a…’)

bolonqui [m] syllable inversion of quilombo.

boludez [f] 1 a stupid thing, a foolish or rash action; 2 a simple matter that anyone can solve, a thing that is easy to figure out. Example: El examen fue una boludez ‘The test was a piece of cake’.

boludo/a [adj] [rude] 1 (of a person) stupid, annoyingly silly; clumsy; also used as an addressing term among friends; 2 (of a thing) simple, almost insultingly easy to solve. Can take the intensive prefix re-.

bombo [m] 1 lit. drum, bongo (see autobombo); 2 the swollen belly of a pregnant woman, showing her state; the fact of a woman being pregnant, esp. when unwanted or unexpected, whence dejar con el bombo ‘to impregnate a woman unwillingly, to leave a woman that has unwillingly become pregnant’.

bondi [m] [colloquial] bus (public urban transportation). I though this was probably from some sort of convoluted syllable inversion, assimilation and shortening of ómnibus (the proper word for ‘bus’), but a reader pointed out to me that trams in Rio de Janeiro are known as bondis. This word apparently comes from English bonds, which is how Rio’s tram service got built and paid (being one of the first in Latin America) by a British company.

brutal [adj, interj]: lit. brutal, terrible; [appreciative] awesome, terrific. Used almost exclusively by Susana Giménez (yuck!).

buenudo/a [m, f, adj] naive, easy to take advantage of, stupid, easy to deceive or convince. Etymology: a cross between bueno ‘good, nice’ and boludo.

buraco [m] [from Portuguese buraco and/ or Italian buracco] hole, orifice, esp. a large hole dug in the ground; a hole or mark made by a bullet or projectile; a perforating wound.

cábala [f] [from Hebrew qabbalah ‘tradition’, the study and interpretation of the religious Jewish texts using hermetic techniques, and the mystic philosophy supporting them] a token of luck, a ritual action that must be performed or a thing that must be carried or worn to bring good luck to a person or group. Especially used of some gestures in football matches (where, for example, some players might cross themselves on entering the field), but also referring to things like wearing red ‘to avoid the evil eye from envy’ when going to a special party, or even calling a particular person on the phone before a test. The cábala is a thing to be repeated each time; this traditional repetition is what makes it a cábala and not a single meaningless gesture.

cacho [m] a bit, a small amount (esp. of time); a small portion of solid matter (esp. food). Usually in the singular, un cacho. Also [fixed phrase] cacho de (used for big great things or people in different contexts), for example: ¡Lindo cacho de auto tenés! ‘Some nice car you have!’, Es un cacho de doctor ‘He’s a hell of a doctor’.

cagar [v] [rude]: 1 [i] lit. to shit; 2 [t] to disappoint, fail to comply on, do something against the interests of (people), ruin, destroy or damage (a machine) as in Nos cagaste la fiesta ‘You ruined (us) the party’; 3 [i] to die (esp. figuratively), to stop functioning, to be ruined, as in Cagó la impresora ‘The printer’s dead’ (see finiquitar); 4 cagarse [ps-ref] lit. to shit on oneself; to be a coward; to chicken out; 5 [fixed phrase] cagar a palos to beat severely; to talk very badly of; to treat someone with physical violence (more or less like ‘to take the shit out of’); 6 [fixed phrase] cagar a pedos to chastise, to punish verbally, to give a dressing-down (Mi viejo me cagó a pedos porque llegué a las 8 de la mañana ‘My old man gave me hell because I got back home at 8 a.m.’); 7 [fixed phrase] irse a cagar to go to hell, to fuck off (usually imperative, using the suppletive verb andar).

calzado/a [adj] lit. having footwear on; armed, carrying a weapon, esp. a gun.

capo/a [m, f, adj] [Italian, lit. ‘head’] 1 (esp. with the definite articles) boss, chief, leader; [derogatory] the leader of an organization seen as a dark high figure (capomafia ‘mob leader’); 2 (being) a good person, a person one likes, esp. for being supportive and charming (cf ‘tops’).

cana 1 [f] (generally in singular definite form, la cana) the police force, as a whole; a group of policemen. See also yuta. 2 [m, f] a policeman or policewoman.

careta [m, f, adj] [derog] lit. ‘mask, face covering’; a snobbish person, esp. upper-classy, affected or pedantic, going always to expensive fashionable places, always dressing fashionable clothes; a person who lives by fashion and image. Also found as the augmentative caretón or the diminutive (despective) caretita.

carrito [m] lit. a diminutive of carro (in this meaning, ‘moving kiosk’); a certain kind of restaurant, esp. one with open spaces and rather informal; a moving post with a portable gas supply and cooker, where fast foods are sold (the equivalent of hot dogs and hamburguers).

chabón [m] a guy, a man (esp. a silly one — the word carries some indefinite derogatory sense).

chanchuyo [m] [old-fashioned but still in use] an act of corruption, an illicit agreement; dirty business; political maneuvers done in the dark. Etymology: probably a reference to chancho ‘pig’ and the idea of chanchada ‘pig-like, dirty, filthy thing’.

changa [f] an informal job, for a limited (sometimes undefined) period of time, without any legally binding contract; a temporal job, for example, small-scale house repairs not needing an architect.

chanta [m, f] [derogatory]: a deceiver, a cheater, a swindler, someone known to perform dishonest practices. Derivatives chantún/a [m, f], and chantada [f] the act of such a person.

chau [interj] ‘bye!’, ‘goodbye!’. This word is a rendering of Italian ciao, ultimately from [io sono il] tuo sciavo ‘[I am] your slave’, an old goodbye greeting (cf. English ‘At your service’). A native speaker and fellow conlanger, Luca Mangiat, tells me that in some dialects medial -v- consistenly disappears, which accounts even more for this etymology. This word has spread over the world with its original sound /tSao/, chao, but this is extremely rare and rather snobbish-sounding in Argentina.

che [interj] [vocative] ‘hey!’, ‘hey, you!’. Etymology unknown. This word appears in Mapudungu (a language spoken by the Mapuche, natives from Southern Argentina and Chile) meaning ‘people’, and in Guaraní (natives of the Paraná River basin) where it means ‘I’.

chupamedias [m, f, adj [derogatory] lit. ‘sock-sucker’, boot-licker. Tends to lose the final -s.

chupar [v] to drink (said of alcoholic drinks, esp. when too much). Lit. to suck (only this sense is always transitive). Derivative chupero/a [m, f] ‘alcoholic person’.

chupina [f] the act of missing a school day without the knowledge of one’s parents; going out as if heading for school and take a turn somewhere in the way, or getting to school and then deciding not to enter. In the fixed expression Hacerse la chupina. See also rata.

ciruja [m] informal recycler; a person who picks up selected pieces of garbage in the streets, takes them with him and re-sells them, including glass bottles, metal, and paper. Sometimes this bounty is loaded on precarious two-wheeled horse-powered carriages. These can be seen going down the largest and most luxurious avenues in all big cities in Argentina. The activity is called cirujeo; the verb is cirujear. Nothing to do with cirugía ‘surgery’..

combustible [m] lit. fuel; alcohol, an intake of an alcoholic drink, thought of having a reanimating or cheering-up effect.

concheto/a [m, f, adj] [derogatory] an older form of careta.

copado/a [m, f, adj] [appreciative, becoming old-fashioned] cool, a good thing, a nice thing or person (see macanudo). Especially applied to people, places and occasions like parties.

corralito [m] [new word (first attested November 2001)] lit. ‘little corral, small pen, little enclosed space’, the set of financial restrictions implemented by minister Domingo Cavallo of the De la Rúa administration to prevent growing amounts of money to be withdrawn from bank accounts, by decreeing that people will have to get their salaries by check only, imposing weekly and monthly limits on the amount of money in banks allowed for withdrawal (initially 250 pesos a week, 1000 pesos a month), and completely freezing some types of bank accounts, thus leaving people’s savings trapped for an indefinite time. These measures were intended to keep the bank system from collapsing and avoid foreign currency (dollars) to leave the country, but were soon breached, and they deepened an already monstrous recession. (The government fell a month later.) — Lessened restrictions implemented later received the name corralón (‘big pen’).

crepar [vi] to die, to pass away.

cuero [m] leather, animal skin; [fixed phrase] sacar el cuero lit. ‘to remove the skin (from sbdy)’, to speak (esp. badly) of someone who is not present, to gossip about someone.

culo [m] [taboo] 1 [not slang] bottom, low end (of a bottle); ass, butt (of a person); culos de botella (‘bottle bottoms’): a pair of glasses with very thick lenses; 2 good luck, esp. in games (see orto).

curro [m] a scam, a fraud, a deception; a dirty business, an illegal arrangement. The corresponding verb is currar [vt]. Note that this word means ‘work, job’ (no negative connotations) in Spain.

dedo [m] lit. finger; hacer dedo hitch-hike; a dedo (appointed) by the will of someone in power, without consulting with anyone else or following criteria for selection (as if merely pointing at the person with the index finger) — as is routine for the designation of non-elected political officials; A la mitad de la Corte Suprema la puso Menem a dedo ‘Half of the Supreme Court was appointed by (former President Carlos) Menem…’. Journalists popularized the cult alternative digitar, lit. ‘to key in with a finger’ for the same meaning.

despelote [m] a mess, an occasion of great confusion, an organizational disaster. Etymology: from the privative preffix des- (English des-, de-, dis-) and pelot- ‘ball’ (fig. ‘testicle’). The ending -e is curiously found often in words of occasion with a negative connotation (see embole and despiole).

embole [m, usu. sing] (a place, lapse of time, or activity involving) boredom.

engranar [vi] to become angry; lit. the action of a gauge (engranaje) setting others into motion. The corresponding noun is engrane. The etymology, though, must be related to grana ‘red, crimson’ (whence granada, the fruit, and Granada, the Spanish city).

engrupir [vt] [becoming old-fashioned] to deceive, usually by using nice words; to get someone to buy into a not-so-good idea.

escrachar [vt] to ruin the cover of, to uncover in public, to show (someone) as having an illegal or evil behaviour. This word has been lately applied to demonstrations (escraches) of some human rights groups in front of the houses of officials of the last military government. These demonstrations are intended to increase the public awareness towards the impunity of the crimes of these officials and denounce their places of residence. People next door of these criminals and collaborationists sometimes don’t know of their past. Etymology: probably imitative/onomatopoeic.

escracho [m] a thing or person that is ugly, in disarray, dirty, etc.; someone or something that should not be presented in public. Distantly related, semantically, with escrachar and escrache.

facha [f] the looks of someone, esp. good looks (synonym: pinta). This word is found in European Spanish but mostly in the plural, and it has a negative connotation; in Argentina it can be either positive or negative, with a tendency towards the former (but it all depends on the tone of the speaker). Note that in Peninsular Spanish facha is slang for ‘fascist’ or ‘right-winger’; this meaning is completely unknown in Argentina, though some people say fachista instead of fascista.

falopa [f] 1 drug (of any kind); 2 drug dealing, esp. in a small scale. Derivatives: falopearse [ps-ref v] ‘to consume drugs, to administer drugs to oneself’; falopero/a [m, f] ‘drug addict’.

fashion [adj, invariable] (clothes, customs, ornaments, etc.) in fashion, en vogue; [mildly derog] (of a person) too worried about fashion and looks, careta. Pronounced [‘fASOn] (approximate English simulated pronunciation FAH-shawn, with pure, unreduced vowels).

faso [m] cigarette.

feca [m] [uneducated, old-fashioned] a cup of coffee. Syllable inversion of café ‘coffee’.

fiambre [m] [colloquial, a bit rude] (lit. meat served cold, usually plus cheese) the dead body of a person, a corpse, a stiff (with an obvious reference to coldness and consistence).

fija [f] a sure thing, a prediction which will come true (from the point of view of the speaker). See posta. Used a lot in horse races.

finiquitar [v] in its usual sense, [t] to finish off a matter, to close an issue (properly) (Ya finiquité el asunto de la cuenta del banco ‘I already finished off the issue of the bank account’). Figurative extensions: [t] to kill, to take care of (someone), to put an end to (something); [i] to die, to end, to be through.

forrado/a [adj] lit. coated, encased, wrapped (from forrar); rich, wealthy, full of money and possessions (from the hyperbolical idea of someone that is wrapped in money).

forrear [vt] to treat someone badly in a consistent way; to despise with rude words or manners, esp. in public; basurear.

forro 1 [m] lit. protective cover, esp. as in a book; a condom; 2 forro/a [m, f, adj] (most probably from meaning 1) a bad person, esp. one who has evilly deceived a friend or another loved one, or disappointed them with evil actions, or betrayed their trust.

fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuiste, fueron [conjugated forms of the irregular verb ir ‘to go’ or maybe ser ‘to be’] to be done, to be through, to be finished. Examples: Eso ya fue ‘That’s finished already’ (a sentimental affair, a feeling between two parties); Fuiste lit. ‘You went / You’re gone’, meaning ‘You’re dead’ (fig.); Ya fuimos ‘We’re through’ (a couple breaking up). Also used as transitive meaning ‘to fire, to dismiss’: Me fueron lit. *’They went me’ (‘They fired me’). According to John Cowan, Cicero once announced the execution of certain persons to the Senate by saying “Fuerunt”, the stem fu- corresponding to the Latin verb esse ‘to be’ (not ire ‘to go’). In Spanish this stem came to be used to conjugate both verbs in the tense known as pretérito indefinido (i. e. fui means both ‘I went’ and ‘I was’).

fuerte [adj] lit. ‘strong’; (of a person) in good shape, with a nice attractive body, physically well-formed (not necessarily ‘muscular’). Used with estar, not ser. Example: ¡Qué fuerte que está tu prima! ‘Your cousin’s so hot!’.

fulero/a [adj] [from English ‘foul’, pronounced ‘full’?] of bad or substandard quality; looking as if tampered with; (sometimes applied to people) ugly; suspiciously looking.

gallego/a [m, f, adj] Spanish (thing, person; sometimes also the European (Castilian) variety of the Spanish language); a Spaniard. Lit. from Galicia (region of Spain). Not especially appreciated by non-Galician Spaniards.

gamba [f] 1 [Italian] a leg (usually a human leg); 2 an amount of one hundred items (esp. one hundred pesos, or whatever currency unit is in use) — see also luca, palo; 3 [uncountable] an act of supporting someone (hacer la gamba, synonym hacer el aguante), esp. when a friend is in trouble, or needs a companion (e. g. to go and talk to a couple of girls, even if only one of them is interesting for the accompanied person); 4 [adj] supportive, helpful; said of a person who acts as in meaning 3.

garrón [m] 1 [becoming rare in this sense] an unwelcome or untimely request; the act of asking for a favour, including lending money; 2 (related to the first meaning) a bother, a burden, a problem imposed on one that one must solve; an inescapable obligation that appears in the worst moment (such as a client that arrives at the shop you work at when you’re about to close and go home).

garronear [v] (related to garrón, meaning 1) to ask for something, esp. insistently; to ask for money (used mostly of people who do this all the time: garroneros).

gauchada [f] a favour, a small errand taken charge of by a supporting person. Etymologically it means ‘something that a gaucho does’; we can guess that gauchos were typically considered attentive and helpful.

gil/a [m, f] stupid person, fool; innocent, naive. (Same meaning as gilipollas in Spain.) Derivatives: augmentative gilún/giluna [m, f]; gilada [f] a foolish action, a stupid thing, a silly mistake; a ridiculous thing to say, a comment made out of stupidity.

gozar [vt] lit. ‘to enjoy’, in this sense with an inanimate object; with a personal direct object it means to make fun of and gloat on someone else’s minor misfortune (esp. results of sports matches, contests, card games, etc.) by pointing it out to the affected person. For example: Le gané a mi hermano al truco y lo estuve gozando toda la tarde ‘I beat my brother at truco and made fun of him all afternoon’.

grasa [adj, gender invariable] (lit. ‘grease’): kitsch, ridiculous, tasteless (a person, esp. in the lower classes); rude, uneducated. Also an older word, groncho/a.

guacho/a [m, f, adj] lit. a small animal left without parents (only used in the countryside in this sense); a bad (but not evil) person, a son of a bitch (can be used as a friendly insult); any person one shows some attitude (good or bad) towards.

guita [f] money.

guitarrear [vi] lit. ‘play around on the guitar’, fig. used as ‘to say lots of things just to do something’, stringing pretty meaningless sentences one after another. See sanata. Derivatives: guitarreada [f] an instance of such behaviour.

hacer [vi] lots of meanings. Fixed phrases: hacer mierda ‘turn (someone) (into) shit’, hacer pelota ‘… a ball’, hacer moco ‘… bugger’, hacer flecos ‘… fringes’, and many, many more, all of them meaning ‘destroy, tear apart, screw up, ruin, bring down’.

Hugo [m] proper name, in the fixed phrase: llamar a Hugo ‘call Hugo’, meaning ‘vomit’ (onomatopoeic; the name is pronounced [uGo], with a guttural fricative). This phrase is quite uneducated. It’s not widely known in the mainstream, and is mainly used for drunken people.

jabón [m] lit. ‘soap’; [old-fashioned] fear, terror, the state of being afraid; cagazo.

joda [f] 1 joke, kidding, non-serious things said or done (esp. in the fixed phrase en joda ‘not seriously, kidding’); 2 party, organized fun; a house party, a going out (also in the fixed phrase irse de joda ‘go get fun’.

joder [vi] 1 to make a joke to someone; tease; slightly annoy, bother; 2 hang out and have fun; 3 to screw up (sbdy./sthg.), to ruin the chances of (on purpose); 4 [rude] (only in translations of American movies made for or by Central Americans) to fuck.

jovato/a [m, f, adj]: old, elder, especially with reference to a younger person, and very especially referring to the older one in a couple of people of very different ages. Often used of people trying to look younger by their manner of dressing or speaking. My guess at its etymology: -ato is augmentative and/or despective, and the root jov- seems to come from a syllable inversion of viejo ‘old’ > jovie. Probably also an association with joven ‘young’.

joya [interj] [becoming rare] wonderful, right, OK. Te paso a buscar a las 10. — ¡Joya! ‘I’ll come and fetch you at ten. — OK, wonderful!’.

laburar [v] [Italian lavorare] to work, to have a job.

laburo [v] [Italian lavoro] job, work.

lastrar [v] [becoming rare] to eat (lit. ‘to load ballast’); lastre [m] food (lit. ‘ballast’).

leche [f] lit. milk; [taboo] 1 semen (and fig. male horniness caused by abstinence); 2 [colloquial] attitude or predisposition, and also luck, fortune. When used alone, this usually has a negative connotation, but it is usually accompanied by the qualifiers ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (buena leche, mala leche). Serves adjectively too. For example: Qué mala leche es este profesor ‘What a bad attitude this professor has’.

lola [f] [1990ish, becoming rare] a woman’s breast; hacerse las lolas to get a breast implant.

lompa [m] [rare] (singular in Spanish) trousers. Syllable inversion and shortening of pantalón, of the same meaning.

luca [f] an amount of one thousand items (esp. one thousand pesos, or whatever currency unit is in vigour); una luca verde ‘one thousand dollars’ (lit. ‘a green luca’). See also gamba, palo.

macana [f] 1 a bad thing to happen, an inconvenience, a pity (quite standard and accepted by now); 2 a bad thing that has been done, a screwup, a mistake (esp. in the phrase mandarse una macana).

macanudo/a [adj, interj] (nothing to do with macana) very good (esp. a deal, an arrangement), nice and friendly, open (a person).

mango [m] 1 fig. a unit of currency, esp. in the phrase No tener un mango ‘Not have a (single) mango’. Etymology uncertain, probably related to the fruit of the same name (though not widely known in Argentina at present). 2 [fixed phrase] al mango (of a machine, a domestic appliance, a car, a recorder) at the maximum possible setting (at full speed, at full volume, etc.); saturated, at the most, al palo.

ma’ qué [interj?] [not polite] surely a rapid speech-form of mas, ¿qué…? ‘but, what…?’. Difficult to explain except with an example: –Fuimos al shopping y… –¡Ma’ qué shopping, si es un supermercado grande! ‘–We went to the mall and… –What mall? It’s a big supermarket!’. Note: if you can explain this better, tell me! This phrase is plain Italian, though its usage is somewhat different.

metejón [m] a passion for an object, person or issue; a strong yearning. From meterse ‘to get oneself into [a place]’ = ‘to fall hopelessly in love’. Used as tener un metejón con ‘to have a yearning with = for’.

meter [vt] [fixed phrase] meter la pata ‘to get one’s leg in’, to do something stupid, to make a mistake, to manage a situation badly. Can be completed with hasta el fondo ‘down to the bottom’ for emphasis.

micro [m] in Buenos Aires, a bus; in Rosario, a short distance, urban bus, and only if mentioned in the media (the usual word is colectivo or, less commonly, ómnibus).

milico/a [m, f][slightly derogatory] a member of the millitary. From the beginning of militar ‘millitary person’ and the seemingly despising suffix -(i)c-.

mina [f] [Lunfardo] a girl, a woman. Mainstream, standard colloquial way of referring to a female from her teens on. Not rude, but not accepted in formal speech either. Cf Castilian Spanish tía.

minga [interj] [rather uneducated] of course not! … Y si me pide otro favor más, ¡minga! ‘… And if he/she asks for any other favor, (I’ll tell him/her) of course not!’.

mishadura [f] [Lunfardo, probably from miseria ‘bad economic situation’ and dura ‘hard’] bad economic situation, esp. when generalized to the whole country; economic crisis, recession, lack of opportunities for employment and trade.

morfar [v] to eat. From the same root: morfi [n] food, something to eat, a meal.

mufa 1 [f] bad luck, esp. in games and gambling; 2 [m, f, uncountable, no article] a person who brings bad luck, a jinx. (Argentine ex-president Carlos Menem was said to be mufa; whenever he shook hands with an Argentine tennis player or went to see a football match of a favourite team, they lost.)

ñaupa [Quechua ñawpa, ‘before’? ‘ago’?] used only in the fixed phrase el tiempo de ñaupa: long ago, in a long-gone (maybe legendary) past, esp. in humoristic exaggeration.

orto [m] [taboo] 1 lit. ass, butt, butthole; 2 good luck, esp. in games. Same as culo in both senses, though this is more of a taboo word.

palo [m] 1 an amount of one million items (esp. one million pesos, or whatever currency unit is in vigour); see also gamba, luca. 2 lit. (a blow given with) a stick; a critique, esp. when strong and/or in public; related to 3 a barely concealed suggestion, an insidious hint, esp. when talking of sentimental business; an act (of seduction) at a particular person so that s/he cannot fail to catch it (this is called tirar un palo ‘to throw a stick [blow]’); 4 in card games, a suite; fig. a group of similar people, only in the phrase ser del mismo palo (que) [usually derogatory] ‘to be of the same kind (as)’.

pancho [m] a hot dog, Argentine style. Often sold in street stands (carritos), with varying degrees of hygiene. Young people flock to these stands to buy panchos or superpanchos after dancing at discos.

pantallazo [m] a general explanation, a brief display of a subject. The root pantalla means ‘screen’.

pata [f] 1 lit. (animal) leg; [colloquial, not rude] a person’s leg; a pata on foot; en patas barefoot; por debajo de las patas (‘under one’s legs’) fig. swiftly, without one having the chance to notice (esp. in the context of spending money); 2 support, help, esp. from a friend. The typical context involves waiting (and covering for) someone else (hacer pata, cf gamba, aguante); 3 [phrase] meter pata (usually imperative) (in a car) drive faster (get one’s foot into the accelerator), fig. hurry up, speed things up. Not to be confused with meter la pata (see meter).

patota [f] a group of violent people, esp. any group of young mobbers (patoteros) who bother people in the street, threatens them and/or rob them, or a group of fans of a football team before or after a match, etc. In general, a derogatory expression for any group of people that tries to achieve things by violent methods and using the force of number, but without any visible structure. There’s also the media-coined fused compound patrioterismo, from patriotismo ‘patriotism’ and patoterismo, meaning violent nationalism, populistic right-wing tendencies, etc.

patovica [m] a person who guards the access to discos, clubs, etc., and/or are in charge of taking drunkards and discriminated minorities out; often associated with gym-trained, medication-enhanced muscular types.

pendejo/a 1 [m, f, adj] [rude, but not insulting] child, kid, boy/girl; [usually appreciative] (someone who looks like) a young person; [derogatory] childish, improper for an adult person, esp. used of something made out of whim and arbitrariness (pendejada [n]); 2 [m] [generally only used among boys, very rude] a pubic hair. (Note well, the first meaning is not an insulting term of address as in Mexican Spanish.)

petiso/a [adj] [colloquial, usually non-derogatory] short, of small stature. Used also as a noun and an addressing term.

pibe/a [m, f] kid, child, boy/girl, youngster. (Sounds a bit rude for girls.)

pifiar [v] to fail, to have a bad shot, to throw something and miss the target. (This word is not really only Argentine slang; it’s well known in the mainstream, and I know that at least RPGers in Spain use it for the same thing as we do — e. g. what you get in MERP when you throw a low number in the dice and your weapon does something weird…, that is, a pifia [f]). In general, a failure or mistake of any kind.

pila [f] lit. a battery; energy, disposition for work, awareness of things to do; usually in the phrase ponerse las pilas ‘to put some batteries on’: to assume responsibility and start to work; to take charge of one’s situation; to get up, think carefully and do what is expected. Lately also found as ponerse media pila ‘to put on half a battery’ (ironical).

pinturita [f] lit. ‘little picture’; una pinturita [fixed phrase] perfect, sharp, ‘squeaky clean’; in very fine condition.

piquetero/a [m, f] [colloquial at first, now mainstream] a person (generally unemployed or sub-employed) that participates in piquetes to protest his/her condition. A piquete is a gathering of such people, usually blocking some important way and demonstrating, noisily and sometimes violently. Piquete is a mainstream Spanish word; piquetero was coined (by the media?) when the economic crisis reached new depths during Carlos Menem’s second period (1995-1999). At this time unemployment became a symptom of social breakdown, and piqueteros started blocking, not entrances to factories or government buildings, but national highways, sometimes attacking passing drivers. During the last four years or so, the piqueteros have become a social movement and (for some) acquired darker features, such as the appearance of charismatic leaders with inflammatory speech and extreme ideological biases. There are so many unemployed people in Argentina that the unemployed have become unionized! Piquetero was a neologism at first (used in quotes); now the media have incorporated the word as part of their common vocabulary.

pirulo [m] [colloquial] a year (used only as a unit for people’s age).

podrido/a [adj] lit. rotten; podrido de tired of; podrido en full of, up to one’s ears in (something good, usually money).

ponja [m/f, adj] Japanese (thing, person, language). From syllable inversion of Japón ‘Japan’.

porro [m] a marihuana joint.

porrón [m] a bottle of beer, and its contents. Originally a special kind of container for liquids, now applied to beer only, though the bottles are not really different.

posta 1 [f] a piece of news, esp. gossip; hearsay or a prediction that the speaker assures to be true and from a trustable source; 2 [interj] (esp. repeated) this is sure, I’m sure. Example: Te tiro una posta: esta yegua hoy gana ‘I’ll drop you a hint/I assure you: this mare will win today’ (at the races, obviously). See fija. –¿En serio? –¡Posta posta! ‘–Really? –Damn sure!’.

quichicientos [numeral] (ficticious number) large number, a lot, a gazillion.

quilombo [m] [rudish]: (from an African language?, kimbundu ‘bungalow’) 1 [old-fashioned, rare] brothel, whorehouse; 2 (a) mess, scandal, terrible noise, disorder. A messed-up place or a complicated situation is said to be enquilombado/a.

rajar [vi] and more usually rajarse [ps-ref] to leave, esp. hastily; to flee, to escape esp. when a complicated problem is approaching; [derog] to leave abandoning someone, to escape like a rat.

rata [f] lit. ‘rat’. Same meaning as chupina [becoming rare], skipping school.

raspando [adv] lit. scratching (a surface); barely, by one hair’s breadth, just enough.

rebotar [v] lit. to bounce, to bounce off; 1 [t] to reject, to return, to give back for review (for example, Me rebotaron el pedido de crédito ‘They rejected my credit application’); [i] to bounce, to be rejected, to be returned (El cheque rebotó ‘The check was bounced’); 2 [i] to be rejected by somebody one has sexually advanced on.

reverendo [adj] used as an emphatic mark esp. in insults, as in reverendo hijo de…, more or less ‘you big fat son of a…’. Probably because it sounds like a title, it lends importance to the rest of the phrase.

romper [vi] lit. ‘to break’ (which is supposed to be transitive); used as intransitive, it means ‘to annoy, to bother’, as an euphemism to the complete expressions romper las pelotas or romper las bolas ‘to break (someone’s) balls’ (= testicles). Used by women, too!

ruso/a [m, f, adj] Jewish; a Jew; someone with a common Jewish surname or presumed Jewish descent; lit. Russian (most Jewish immigrants came from Russia?)

sanata [f] long speech, long text, boring lecture about things that are made to look important and deserving a lot of words. Similar to bolazo. Used by students about dense texts they have to read, and the things they write in exams when they don’t know what to write but need to fill some space. Derivatives: sanatear [vi], sanatero/a [m, f] performer of sanata. Cf guitarrear.

sarparse [ps-ref vi] probably syllable inversion of pasarse; (an action) to go beyond the limits, go too far, say or do improper or too much things for the occasion. For example ¿Sabés que tu hermana está re-buena? — ¡No te sarpés! ‘Your sister’s really hot, you know! — Don’t go too far!’.

sobrar [vt] in standard usage, intransitive, ‘to be left over, to be more than enough, to be innecesary’; in slang, used with a personal direct object: to make fun of someone while pointing out the superiority of the speaker in some matter; to speak contemptuously or mockingly to someone as if they were of lesser value. One who does this is a sobrador.

sota [f] the ten card in a Spanish deck; used figuratively in the phrase caérsele una sota (a uno) ‘to drop a ten-spot’, meaning ‘to lie grossly about one’s age’.

sota [m] [fixed phrase] hacerse el sota ‘to hide oneself, to make oneself unnoticed, to pretend one’s got nothing to do with things’.

tano/a [m, f, adj] Italian (thing, person; not the language).

timba [f] the institution and concept of betting on the lottery or gambling in general. Derived verb timbear [vi] to bet, esp. often or regularly.

tocado [adj] lit. ‘touched’ in the sense of ‘slightly crazy’; a bit drunk.

tomárselas [ps-ref v + -las ‘them (fem.)’]: lit. (oneself) to take them; to go away, to leave; to run away, to flee. Probably from tomar(se) las de Villadiego (I don’t know the origin of this, but it probably means ‘to take the ones (roads?) to Villadiego’). For example: Me las tomo ‘I’m leaving’, Tomátelas de acá ‘Get out of here’ (not kidding), Se las tomaron hace rato ‘They went away long ago’.

toque [n] [fixed phrase] al toque ‘instantly, in just a moment, immediately, almost simultaneously’. Generally used of past events: Llegó y al toque la vio ‘He came and right at that moment he saw her’. Also un toque (just) a moment, (just) a bit; for example, Bancáme un toque ‘Wait a sec’.

tordo/a [m, f] doctor (from syllable inversion of dotor, the uneducated pronunciation of doctor ‘(medical) doctor’. The feminine torda is analogical.

truchada [f] something that is or has been made trucho; a fake, a bad-quality forge.

trucho/a [m, f, adj] fake, phony, made up, false, artificial, ersatz, forged; (of software, CDs, DVDs, etc.) pirated; (of people) a scammer, a quack.

tubazo [m] lit. a hit with a tube or pipe; a phone call (from one of the senses of tubo ‘phone speaker’; the action is pegar un tubazo.

tubo [m] lit. ‘tube, pipe’, and also the body of a telephone speaker; 1 a bottle of wine; 2 (generally pl.) a muscular arm, an arm with well-developed biceps and triceps; 3 como por un tubo [fixed phrase] ‘as if through a pipe’, fig. massively and swiftly, in great amounts and uncontrolled, for example: Este mes se me fue la plata como por un tubo ‘This month my money went away as if through a pipe’.

turco/a [m, f, adj] Arabian (thing, person); lit. Turkish. Often applied as an addressing form and nickname to people with an Arabian surname or presumed descent (notably, for a while, former president Carlos Saúl Menem).

turro/a [m, f] [rude] (general expletive) a bad, evil, obnoxious, or deceiving person. Originally meaning, and probably originated in, perra ‘bitch’ (first applied to women, then also to men). The suffix -rro, -rra seems to be derogatory in many words (like curro).

vaquita [f] lit. little cow; the action and result of collecting money (hacer una vaquita) among friends, workmates, etc., esp. in small amounts, to buy something that the group or one of its members needs. The non-diminutive basic form vaca is also used.

yapa [f] a free addition;
de yapa for free, together with another item (also used figuratively).


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