Grammar Guide
How to Sound like a Local in Argentina

How to Sound like a Local in Argentina

Quick Answer

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.

Below is a list of useful slang words and colloquialisms that will help you during your Argentinian travels.

Volcán Maipo in Argentina

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! Here's how you might use lunfardo in a sentence:

Antes de viajar a Argentina, es importante saber el lunfardo que se habla en Buenos Aires.
Before traveling to Argentina, it’s important to know the slang of Buenos Aires.

Tener mala leche = To have bad luck

Literally meaning to have bad milk, tener mala leche 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!

¡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!

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

The literal translation of se le saltó la ficha is someone's chip jumped, but it actually refers to someone who 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.

Mientras quedamos en el atasco, a mi hermano se le saltó la ficha y empezó a gritarle furiosamente a los otros carros.
While we were stuck in traffic, my brother lost it and furiously started yelling at the other cars.

Tener fiaca = To feel lazy

When someone tiene 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.

Todo el día he tenido fiaca. Tal vez me estoy enfermando porque ni ganas tengo de salir a comer empanadas.
I've been feeling lazy the entire day. Maybe I'm getting sick because I don't even feel like going out for empanadas.

Cara rota = A shameless or rude person

While cara rota literally translates to broken face, it is used to describe someone who is shameless or improper.

¡Ay! ¿Ya viste a esa cara rota? ¡Me pegó con su bolsa y siguió caminando!
Geez! Did you just see how rude that woman was? She hit me with her bag and just kept walking!

Echar panza = To settle down and gain weight

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

A los treinta y seis años, ya no me interesa la vida del aventurero. Prefiero echar panza.
At thirty-six years old, the adventurous life doesn't interest me anymore. I'd rather settle down and get fat.

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.

Ay, estoy en el horno... ¡Perdí mi pasaporte y mi vuelo de regreso es mañana!
Oh, I'm in trouble... I lost my passport and my return flight is tomorrow!

Che = Hey

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

¡Che! ¿Vas al Parque Centenario? Yo te acompaño.
Hey! Are you going to Parque Centenario? I'll go with you.

Buena onda = Good vibe

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

A mí no me gustó mucho la bebida que pedí pero el bar tenía buena onda.
I wasn't a big fan of the drink that I ordered, but the bar had a good vibe.

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.

Dicen que los porteños no pueden vivir sin el fútbol.
They say that the locals here in Buenos Aires can't live without soccer.

argentina flag

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. ¡Buen viaje!