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As someone who traveled across Latin America, I can tell you that there is no betterway to break the ice and endear yourself to a local than by knowing some of their local slang terms. In this post, we’re going to cover the most common Argentine slang that you should know whether it’s for travel purposes, to impress a friend from Buenos Aires, or simply for your curiosity.
This post is our part of our series where we list the most popular Spanish slang, including
- Mexican slang
- Colombian slang
- Venezuelan slang
And now, it’s time to review the most essential Argentine slang.
A very common informal interjection that is that is embedded in Argentine slang. Similar to “hey” in English, and used to get someone’s attention.
- ¿Che, me hacés un favor? – hey, can you do me a favor?
A very direct and not so nice way to tell someone to leave a place.
- Volá de acá de una vez – Buzz off, right now
If you only learn one piece of Argentine slang, then let it be this one.
This word was first intended as a strong insult towards someone’s intelligence, but now it’s so overused that it’s meaning is close “pal”, and is used to refer to someone in a friendly way, similar to Mexico’s “pendejo”.
Additionally, there are some words derived from it, like the verb “boludear”, which roughly translates as “to mess around”, or just “hanging out”.
Another favourite derived from this word is “boludez”, which can mean all the following: something simple, nothing, a waste of time, and nonsense.
- Boludo, ¿vas a hacer algo el fin de semana? – Dude, are you going to do anything on the weekend?
- ¡No seas boludo! ¿Como no vas a entender algo tan simple? – Don’t be so dumb, how can you not understand something so simple?
- Nada che, creo que me voy a quedar boludeando en la casa – Nothing man, I think I’ll just stay at home doing nothing
- Nah, que boludez lo que estás diciendo – Nah, you’re just peaking nonsense
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An alternative to “chico” or “chica”.
- Cuidado con el pibe en la cocina, se puede quemar – Watch the kid in the kitchen, he could get hurt
A simple word you use speak about your day job.
- No me ha ido muy bien esta semana en el laburo – It’s been a rough week on my job
Argentine slang for a women you don’t know. Although it’s not very flattering, most of the time this word is used without any bad intentions.
- Che, ¿conocés a esa mina? – Dude, do you know that girl?
Pelotudo is similar to “boludo”, but slightly stronger. This word is used to describe someone who is generally unpleasant to be around, or has a very toxic attitude. And like “boludo”, this word has lost part of its punch over the years.
- Presta más atención, no seas pelotudo – Pay more attention, don’t be a dumbass
In case you were worried that all Argentine slang had been watered-down, then you can use “forro” to describe someone who is extremely annoying, an idiot or a prick. This one isn’t light hearted.
- No soporto a ese forro, es insoportable – I can’t stand that douche, he’s unbearable.
9) Atar con alambre
This expression is a little sarcastic and is used when something is broken, damaged or in a bad condition. Argentines have a funny way of saying that things need to be fixed, or at least make them functional once again. “Atar con alambre” means that you will improvise and come up with a solution for a certain situation – without actually solving the main problem. A literal translation will be “to tie with wire”.
- Esa pieza está algo suelta, pero la podemos atar con alambre – That piece is a bit loose, but we can tie it with wire.
10) Medio pelo
Something (or someone) that doesn’t meet what is expected of them, and is seen as disappointing or simply quite mediocre.
- Esta pizza está medio pelo, y la pizza no es tan difícil de hacer – This pizza is not that good, and pizza is not that hard to make
11) No dá
When something is unacceptable or doesn’t quite get there, they you use this phrase to say “it does not give”.
- Fue a la entrevista de trabajo, pero creo que no dá – He went to the job interview, but I don’t think he did good enough
12) Picar el bagre
This is a weird one. Although the phrase literally translates as “having an itchy catfish”, it means “being hungry”.
- ¿Nos vamos temprano? Ya me pica el bagre – Do you wanna leave early? I’m really hungry already
13) Quemar la cabeza
An expression used to describe being in a difficult situation or a conundrum, and having to think hard in order to come up with a solution. The literal translation is “to burn your head”, which I think us English speakers could get on board with using.
- Lleva una semana quemándose la cabeza tratando de escribir ese artículo – He has been burning his head for a week trying
14) Estar al horno
This phrase translates as “to be cooked in an oven” and is an accurate representation for the heat (or consequences) that someone faces when they can’t “burn their head” and find a solution
As a bonus, you can add “con papas” at the end (meaning “plus chips”) to exaggerate the phrase even more.
- Si de verdad no has estudiado nada para el examen, estas al horno con papas – If you really haven’t studied anything for the test you’re in some deep trouble
15) Sacarla Barata
Imagine for a second that there was a shooting across the street, but you were extremely lucky and somehow, nothing happened to you, so you “¡la sacaste barata!” which literally means“get it out cheap”
It can also be used when referring to money ie. you had a really good time without spending a penny.
- Tuve un accidente el otro día pero no me pasó nada,la saqué barata – I had an accident the other day but nothing happened to me, I got lucky (I got off easy)
16) Tener una vena
In English, you probably heard about someone “popping a vein” due to being extremely upset or stressedabout something. In Argentine slang, the same expression exists, but instead of “popping” a vein, you just “have” one.
- Si él se entera va a tener una vena – If he ever finds out he’s gonna have a vein
17) Tener mala leche
If someone has bad milk, then he or she is having some bad luck. This phrase can be used to describe a generally unlucky person, or an unlucky incident.
- Toda esta semana has tenido mala leche, ¿quieres salir a hacer algo distinto? – This whole week you’ve been really unlucky, wanna go out and do something different?
18) Estar al pedo
Sometimes it’s nice to sit around and do nothing. “Estar al pedo” describes that exactly, when you’re being a lazy person, home alone, doing nothing with nobody.
- No he salido desde hace bastante, he estado acá al pedo – I haven’t gone out in quite a while, I’ve been here doing nothing
19) Estar en pedo
Despite looking similar, the phrase “estar enpedo” has a completely different meaning and is used to describe being completely drunk or wasted.
- Estás muy al pedo, no tomes tan rápido – You’re really drunk now, don’t drink that fast
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20) Tener fiaca
A highly informal phrase, best reserved for using around friends and family and used to describe the feeling when laziness beats you, and you admit defeat despite the fact that you probably had something to do.
- Ya no quiero seguir haciendo esto, tengo mucha fiaca – I don’t want to keep doing this, I got really lazy
21) Tener Paja
Almost identical to “tener fiaca”, but this is also used when laziness takes over and convinces you to skip a responsibility.
- Tengo paja, mejor esto lo termino mañana – I got lazy already, I’ll finish this tomorrow
22) Tomarlo con soda
Literally translates as “to drink it with soda”, but is way of saying “taking it easy”.
(sidenote: This expression is also common also in Venezuela)
- No me voy a preocupar mucho por eso, me lo voy a tomar con soda y esperar a que pase – I don’t want to worry too much about it, I’ll take it slow and wait for everything to pass
23) Estar remando en dulce de leche
Dulce De Leche is sweet treat, similar to Nutella with a a consistency even thicker than caramel. This Argentine slang is used to describe a problem that is quite difficult to get out of. Similar to being in a sticky situation, as we say in English.
- Estás remando en dulce de leche ya, no te sigas metiendo en ese problema – You’re quite deep into this already, don’t get in any more trouble
24) Ir a los bifes
Quite literally means “get to the meat of the issue” and can be used in a discussion in order to cut someone off or simply to advance a conversation that’s going nowhere (we’ve all been there).
- Llevas ya un rato hablando de eso, pero ve a los bifes de una vez, nada de esto me interesa – You’ve been talking about this for a while now, just get to the point because I don’t care about any of this
25) Mandar fruta
Although the literal translation is “to send fruit”, this Argentine slang is used when someone is lying about something or maybe delaying the answer as much as possible. A little bit similar to “beating around the bush” in English.
- No le prestes atención, está mandando fruta – Don’t pay any attention to him, he’s lying about it
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.
- Ese Pablo es un wacho, por eso siempre lo tenemos cerca – Pablo is some rascal, that’s why we always have him close
Used for both objects and people, “groso” can be used to describe “the best” or something really good and generally positive.
- Sos groso – You are great man.
Even though the correct translation is “barbarian”, in Argentine slang, this word is used to label people or things as “awesome”, “amazing” or “cool”.
- Esa pelicula estuvo bárbara, me encantó – That movie was great, I loved it
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