10 Slang Words to Know Before Traveling to Argentina

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Planning a trip to Argentina? Below is a list of useful slang words and colloquialisms that will definitely help you during your Argentinian travels.

Background

Argentinian Spanish is often referred to as Rioplatense Spanish from the Río de la Plata region between Argentina and Uruguay, and has been influenced by Italian speakers.
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1. Lunfardo = Buenos Aires slang

Before we get into the other words used in Argentina, we should start with lunfardo, which is the name of the slang spoken in the capital of Argentina. You should definitely know what lunfardo is if you’ll be traveling around Buenos Aires!

Example:
Antes de viajar a Argentina, es importante conocer el lunfardo que se habla en Buenos Aires (Before traveling to Argentina, it’s important to know the slang of Buenos Aires)
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2. Tener mala leche = To have bad luck

Literally meaning to have bad milk, this phrase can be used for any unfortunate or unlucky situation. However, if you describe someone as mala leche, then you’re calling that person nasty or rude, so be careful when using this phrase!

Example:
¡Ayer perdí mi cartera y hoy quebré unos platos! ¡Qué mala leche tengo! (I lost my wallet yesterday and today I broke some plates! I’m so unlucky!) alt

3. Se le saltó la ficha = To reveal one’s true colors

A literal translation of this expression is when someone's chip jumps, which occurs when someone reveals their true nature. In a way, it's similar to when someone puts down all their cards on the table and reveals their true intentions.

Example:
You: Parece que Fernando está muy cansado por el viaje de auto. (It seems like Fernando is really tired from the car trip.)
Friend: Sí, se le saltó la ficha cuando le gritó al niño. (Yeah, he revealed his true colors when he yelled at the boy.) alt

4. Cara rota = A shameless or rude person

This phrase literally translates to broken face and can be used to describe someone who is shameless or improper-- you definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of this phrase!

Example:
You: ¡Ay! ¡Esa mujer me pegó con su bolsa y siguió caminando! (Ow! That woman just hit me with her purse and kept walking!)
Friend: Ignórala—es una cara rota. (Ignore her—she’s so rude.)
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5. Echar panza = To settle down and gain weight

This expression describes settling down and becoming problem-free. Gaining weight is bound to happen if you're comfortable in life.

Example:
You: Odio todas estas pruebas. Quiero terminar con la universidad y conseguir trabajo. (I hate all these quizzes. I want to finish with college and look for a job.)
Friend: Tampoco quiero estudiar. Ya me quiero casar y echar panza. (Yeah, I don’t want to study either. I just wanna get married, settle down, and get fat.) alt

6. Estar en el horno = To be in a bad situation

This is not used for simple situations, hence the literal translation of to be in the oven. Save estar en el horno for dilemmas that can’t be easily resolved or are stressing you out.

Example:
You: ¡Perdí mi pasaporte y mi vuelo de regreso es mañana! (I lost my passport and my return flight is tomorrow!)
Friend: Ay, lo siento. Estás en el horno. (Ah I’m sorry. You’re really in a bad situation.) alt

7. Che = Hey

Simple and important, che is just another way of saying hey and can be used to grab someone’s attention.

Example:
You: ¡Che! ¿A dónde vas? (Hey! Where are you going?)
Friend: Voy a la ciudad de Mar de Plata. (I’m going to the city of Mar de Plata.) alt

8. Buena onda = Good vibe

If a place has a buena onda, then it’s probably cool, hip, or nice. The literal translation of good wave isn’t too far from the actual meaning either.

Example:
You: ¿Cómo estaba el bar? (How was the bar?)
Friend: Las bebidas estaban buenas pero el bar no tenía buena onda. (The drinks were good, but the bar wasn’t very cool.) alt

9. Tener fiaca = To be lazy

When someone has fiaca, it means that they’re lacking the desire to do anything. It’s a pretty useful word if you’re vacationing in Argentina and just want to relax.

Example:
You: ¿No irías a buscar una birra a la esquina? (Aren't you going out to grab a beer on the corner?)
Friend: ¡¡No!!¡Tengo mucha fiaca y hace calor! (No!! I'm feeling lazy and it's hot outside!) alt

10. Un porteño = A Buenos Aires native

Anyone who is a porteño is from Buenos Aires. Pretty simple, right? You’ll need to know this one if you’re going to be near the Buenos Aires region and talking to a lot of porteños.

Example:
Dicen que los porteños no pueden vivir sin el fútbol. (They say that the locals here in Buenos Aires can't live without soccer)
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Now you're ready to book your travels to Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and La Plata. Remember to take this list with you on your travels. Have a safe journey!


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