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10 Words You Need to Know in Buenos Aires

The world of Spanish accents and vocabulary is wide and diverse just like English, no two accents or vocabularies are identical. That being said, it is widely known that the Spanish of Buenos Aires, also called “Rioplatense” is markedly different from the Spanish that is spoken in other parts of Latin America and Spain. Argentine Castellano vocabulary is mostly a mix between many different languages, apart from traditional Spanish, such as Italian, indigenous languages, Portuguese, and more. For example, an avocado in the rest of South America would be called “aguacate”, whereas in Argentina it’s referred to as a “palta”.

Marc Rogers
Marc Rogers
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10 Words You Need to Know in Buenos Aires

The Argentine accent, in particular Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires), has a very distinct sound. For example, the soft “y” is pronounced “sh” in Buenos Aires. So instead of saying “caye” when describing a street (calle), you would say “cashe”. Students at Expanish will quickly become accustomed to hearing this accent through our local teachers.

Argentine Lunfardo and Slang

Another defining characteristic of Argentine Castellano is the use of slang, which can refer to modern day slang or the traditional Lunfardo. To break it down for you, Lunfardo is the street slang that was created by lower class residents of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. Traditionally, Lunfardo is created by using “vesre”, or reversing the order of words. For example, “café con leche” (coffee with milk) becomes “feca con chele”, “pizza” becomes “pazi”, “perro” (dog) becomes “rope”, “mujer” (woman) becomes “jermu”, and so on.

Lunfardo should not be confused with modern day slang though, which refers to the informal words that have found their way into day-to-day conversations between friends, but are less common in written Spanish. Argentine slang is extremely common, and can be heard from the moment you step off the plane. To help you navigate the confusing world of slang, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most common Argentine slang words that you’ll definitely hear while learning the Spanish of Buenos Aires.

Che

Che is the most common Argentine slang word, used on a daily basis to grab someone’s attention. It’s the equivalent of saying “Hey” or “What’s up”.

Example: Che, ¿me pasas la sal? — Hey, can you pass me the salt?  ¿Che, cómo andás? –Hey, how are you?

Boludo

Boludo can be understood as “dude” when used among friends. However, it can also be used to insult someone, calling them an idiot or fool, so be careful how you use it.

Example: ¡Che, boludo! –Hey, dude!

Chabón/chabona (feminine)

Chabón means dude, or guy. Dudette as the female version (chabona).

Example: ¡El chabón me ofendió! –That dude offended me!

Mango

Mango is used as a slang way to say money, or Argentine Pesos.

Example: Cuesta cien mangos. –It costs one hundred pesos.  No tengo un mango. –I don’t have a single peso.

Quilombo

Quilombo means mess, or chaos, and is used to describe chaotic situations.

Example: ¡Que quilombo es el tránsito en Buenos Aires! –How chaotic is the traffic in Buenos Aires!  ¡Que quilombo! –What a mess!

Pedo

The literal translation of pedo is a fart, but it has a plethora of meanings when used as a slang word. “Ni en pedo” (“Hell no”) is probably the most common one.

Example: Vives en una nube de pedos. –You live in a dream world.  Estás en pedo. –You are drunk. Hablás al pedo. –You’re talking trash.

Fiaca

Fiaca refers to laziness, or when someone feels like doing absolutely nothing.

Example: Todo el día he tenido fiaca. –I’ve been feeling lazy all day long.

Pibe/Mina

“Pibe” and “Mina” are colloquial terms to say boy and girl in Argentina, and they are most commonly used to describe someone who is slightly immature.

Example: ¡Che, pibe! –Hey, boy!  ¡Que linda mina! –What a pretty girl!

A full

A full means “absolutely”, “totally”, “a lot”, “to the maximum”.

Example: ¡Si, vamos a full a la fiesta! –Yes, we’re totally going to the party!  ¿Cómo fue la fiesta? A full, che. –How was the party? It was packed, man.

Buena Onda

Buena Onda literally means good wave, and is the term used to describe “good vibes”. It is used to describe people, places, or the atmosphere of something, so you’ll always want to make sure you have a “buena onda”.

Example: Tu amigo tiene muy buena onda. –Your friend is really cool.

Want to learn more about Argentine Lunfardo or slang? Check out the video below for a breakdown of some vocabulary we discussed, as well as some different words.

Learning Argentine slang or Lunfardo is a very fun and interesting experience. Whether it be through group classes or private lessons, Expanish’s local teachers offer a one-of-a-kind experience with the authentic Porteño accent and slang. Who knows, you might even return home saying, ¡Che, boludo!

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