Argentine spanish & Lunfardo (Argentina Slang)

The castellano, Argentine spanish and Lunfardo

The usage of “vos” and of the “ch” sound, the slang… These peculiarities of the Argentina and Uruguayan Spanish can disconcert.

The accent, the vocabulary, the usage of “vos” and of the “ch” sound, the slang…These peculiarities of the Argentina and Uruguayan Spanish can disconcert any Spanish-speaking person used to speaking Spanish from Spain. Even in Argentina there are different accents, very pronounced in the region of Córdoba and the Northeastern region. What characterizes Argentinean when they speak is their Buenos Aires accent.

– The accent: when you arrive in Buenos Aires, firstly it is the Italian melody what will call your attention. Between the thousand immigrants that arrive in the city and the country, Italians outnumbered the others. The Spanish was then biased with Italian sounds and many Italian words have been distorted and have become part of the local vocabulary. In Buenos Aires as well as in Montevideo, the way they pronounce “ll” and “y” is very special: yo is pronounced somehow between “cho” and “jo” French sounds. Those who find difficulties pronouncing “ci” and “ze” Spanish sounds (as “th” English sound, with the tongue between the teeth) can take it very easy: in Latin American Spanish, there is no difference between the “s”, “c”, and “z” sounds.

– The vocabulary: Argentina has its regionalisms as all the other Spanish-speaking countries. And Buenos Aires has its own slang: it was born at the end of the 19th century during the big immigration waves as a result of the mixture of words from Italian, Spanish and French origin. This argot was first the language of the good-for-nothing and prisons; but then, many of the slang words have become part of the every-day language so much that it is now difficult to distinguish slang from Argentine Spanish. It is also very frequently used in tango lyrics.

– The grammar: The usage of “vos” instead of “” was heard in Spain up to the 16th century. The plural is “Ustedes” (3rd person) and not “vosotros” (2nd person). The “vos” conjugation in present tense is strange, it is formed with the second person from the plural without “i”: vos podés (tú puedes), vos venís (tú vienes), etc. The direct object is “te” and not “os”: ¿Vos cómo te llamás?

Small Argentine Spanish lexis


A full : packed, restlessly
Trabajar a full : to work without a break
Al cuete : in vain
Atorrante :a lazy, cunning, careless person
Bancar : to hold on. No lo banco más : I can’t stand it anymore
Bárbaro : super, great
Bola – (no) dar bola a alguien : (not) to pay attention to somebody
Boludo/a : a silly, dumb person (frequently used in a friendly way). A typical conversation between teenagers would start: ¡Che boludo! or ¡Che bolu! They also say “hacerse el boludo” : to appear as a fool.
Buena onda (de) : a nice, kind and easy-going person. On the contrary: mala onda
Cana : policeman
Chabón : guy
Chanta : a useless, sloppy person, someone who cannot be trusted
Che : interjection meaning eh! ¡pues! (that is why Ernesto Guevara was nicknamed Che)
Cheto/a : chic, elegant
Chorro : thieve
Coparse : to fancy. Me copa salir : I fancy going out
Dale : ok, I agree (equals to vale in Spain)
Del orto : zero, bad, ugly, low-quality
Fiaca : laziness. Tener fiaca or estar con fiaca : I’m tired
Gallego : Spaniard, anyone whose country of origin is Spain
Guita : money
Hinchapelotas: ball breaker. No me hinches las pelotas : don’t break my balls
Laburo : work and laburar : to work
Mango : pennies, money. Quedarse sin un mango : I’m short of money
Mina : girl, woman
Mucama : maid
Patota : gang
Pedo : It is used in expressions such as “ni en pedo” : never in my life (also referred to as “ni a palos”) ;
Mandar al pedo : to tell someone to get lost.
Pelotudo : good-for-nothing
Pendejo : idiot
Pibe/piba : guy
Piola : cute
Pucho : cigarette
Quilombo : mess. ¡Es un quilombo!
Rajar (se) : to leave a place quickly
Re : superlative, for example: “resimpático”: very nice. You can even go further: recontrasimpático
Tomar, agarrar : to grab, take. As in many other Latin American countries, coger only has a sexual connotation.
Trucho : fake, illegal, clandestine
Zafar : make it

In the city or on a trip

Arribo : arrival
Baño : restrooms, toilets
Boleto : (autobus) ticket
Boliche : disco or restaurant
Bulín : flat, apartment
Cancha: stadium
Colectivo : bus (in the city)
Estacionar : to park
Forro : condon
Micro, ómnibus : (long distance) coach
Nafta : gasoline
Partida : departure
Pasaje : (plane, ship) ticket
Pasto : grass
Pileta : swimming pool
Remise or remis : private taxi
Ripio : gravel, non-paved road
Subte : underground
Telo : “hotel” the other way round meaning motel
Vereda : sidewalk

At the table

Achuras : offals served as starter in a traditional asado.
Ají : pepper
Alcaucil : artichoke
Chaucha: green bean
Choclo : corn
Chop(p) : draught beer
Damasco : apricot
Durazno : peach
Facturas : baked pastry
Feta : slice
Frutilla : strawberry
Jugo : juice
Medialuna : croissant
Morrón : pepper
Palta : avocado
Pancho : hot dog
Pomelo : grapefruit
Poroto : white, black bean
Zapallito : zucchini

Apparel and accessories

Anteojos : sunglasses
Bombacha : panties
Campera : jacket
Malla : swimsuit
Pollera : skirt
Remera : t-shirt