10 Words from Argentina
When learning a language, there is one thing you won’t likely find in the books, nor in the classroom. That is the language of the streets, or ‘el slang’.
When you talk with native speakers, though, you’re bound to encounter some slang, and a good way to break the ice with some new native-speaking friends is to throw in a few slang words. You’ll probably draw some good-natured laughs and most native speakers love to teach slang, so once you have a few essential words under your belt, you’re sure to learn many more.
There is a lot of variation in slang from country to country and even city to city, so it’s important to consider what words will help you most in which place or with which people.
Not sure what words to use in Argentina? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’ve taken trips through Mexican and Spanish slang, now here’s a look at some slang from Argentina!
(Please note that the examples in this post use the voseo, where applicable. Check out our post about voseo for more info!)
Spanish Slang from Argentina
CHE = HEY (expression, noun)
Spanish Synonym: oye
Che, ¿sabés a dónde van?
Hey, do you know where they’re going?
Arguably the most versatile word in Argentinian slang, this word gave the famous Ernesto “Che” Guevara his nickname, because, like many Argentinians, he said it all the time. It can be used as an interjection to get someone’s attention, as a greeting, and sometimes, it can even be a noun to refer to a person, kinda like “dude.”
CHETO/A = FANCY (adjective, noun)
Spanish Synonym: sofisticado, lujoso, costoso
Ella es muy cheta, siempre compra cosas de marca.
She’s really fancy, she always buys stuff from nice brands.
“Cheto/a” is one of those words that is fairly simple and easy to pick up but has a lot of meaning behind it. Pay attention, because the user can have positive or negative feelings behind using the word, depending on the context. It can also be used as a noun to describe a group of high-class people.
LABURAR, LABURO = WORK (verb, noun)
Spanish Synonym: trabajar
Ayer fue un feriado, pero hoy tengo que ir a laburar.
Yesterday was a holiday, but today I have to go to work.
From the Italian word “lavorare,” this word is commonplace in many conversations between Argentines. Consider using it to ask an Argentine acquaintance, “en que laburás?” (What do you do for work?)
QUILOMBO = MESS (noun)
Spanish Synonym: lío
Él la dejó para estar con su prima y ahora están todos peleando. ¡Que quilombo!
He left her to be with her cousin and now everyone is fighting. What a mess!
This word comes from the Kimbundu word kilombo, and was used in colonial Brazil to describe a village of escaped slaves, but it has come to be used in Argentina without that connotation, rather it describes something that is either literally or figuratively a big mess.
POSTA = REAL, FOR REAL (adjective, noun, expression)
Spanish Synonym: en serio, de verdad
¡Quiero comer un sándwich posta, no ese que solo tiene queso!
I want to eat a real sandwich, not this that just has cheese!
It seems like every variety of Spanish has its own version of this word, but the Argentine one is especially dynamic. You can use it as an adjective or noun or exclamation. You can also use “posta” as a question to confirm if something is true or not, as in:
Vendieron su casa.
They sold their house.
BOLUDO/A = DUDE (noun)
Spanish Synonym: amigo, tipo, estúpido (and regionally – huevón, g¬üey, tío, etc)
After “che,” “boludo” is probably the most well-known Argentine slang word, and it pairs well with “che,” as in the famous “che, boludo!” It’s used to address friends or can also be used as an insult, so proceed with caution, but enthusiasm. You might also hear it modified to another noun, “boludeces,” which are dumb or stupid things that someone might do.
BIRRA = BEER (noun)
Spanish Synonym: cerveza
¿Vamos a tomar una birra?
Wanna go get a beer?
Argentine Spanish’s Italian influence shows through in this one again (“birra” is beer in Italian, and like other aspects of Argentine culture, the word comes from there). It’s also a great word to use to connect with your new Argentine friends.
FIACA = LAZINESS (noun)
Spanish Synonym: pereza
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. Saying that you or someone else has “fiaca” is like saying that you’re just not up to doing something (and probably need to be convinced to do it). It also comes from Italian, “fiacca.”
RE = SO, VERY (adverb)
Spanish Synonym: muy, super
Mi mamá averiguó que no vine a la casa anoche y ahora está re enojada.
My mom found out that I didn’t come home last night and now she’s super angry.
“Re” can be used with almost any adjective and sometimes even with other parts of speech, but it goes particularly well with emotions. A good way to think about it is that anytime you might use the word “super” for emphasis, “re” can likely work, too! It’s important to note that this is a particularly informal word, though, and is best kept to informal situations.
TRUCHO/A = FAKE, BAD QUALITY (adjective)
Spanish Synonym: falso, de mala calidad
Si vas a esa tienda, tené cuidado, venden muchas cosas truchas.
If you go to that store, be careful, they sell a lot of fake stuff.
You can use “trucho/a” to say that something isn’t good quality or that something isn’t what it seems – like you expected one thing, but you got another. If applied to a person, it means that they’re a liar. (It’s also an antonym of “posta!” when used as adjective for an object – see above).
¡Ahora vos! (Now you!) Try to put it all together and use your new slang in the comments and we’ll correct it for you or let you know you’re on the right track. For bonus points, use “vos” where applicable!
Don’t forget to check out our other posts about slang, including slang from Spain and Mexico, and if the examples left you curious about the usage of “vos,” head over to our post about the voseo to learn more about it.
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