argentinian slang

12 Argentinian Slang Expressions to Speak Like a Native [With Audio and Quiz]

Would you love to take a trip to the land of tango, beef and a lot of local slang? Or have an Argentine friend you want to impress?

Then you need to master some Argentinian slang.

In this post, you’ll learn 12 phrases used in casual conversation in Argentina, along with examples to help you commit them to memory.

Then you can take a short quiz to test what you’ve learned!

Contents


1. Estar al horno — To be in trouble 

Literal translation: To be in the oven

This phrase basically means that someone is in trouble or in a difficult situation. For example:

No he estudiado nada y el examen es mañana. ¡Estoy al horno! (I haven’t studied anything and the exam is tomorrow. I’m in trouble!)

If you hear estar al horno con papas (to be in the oven with potatoes), it means that the situation is even worse.

2. Tener mala leche — To have bad luck

Literal translation: To have bad milk

If someone tiene mala leche, he or she has bad luck. For example:

Ella tiene mala leche. (She has bad luck./She’s unlucky.)

¡Qué mala leche! (What bad luck!)

3. Ser mala leche — To have bad intentions

Literal translation: To be bad milk

Ser mala leche is used to describe someone with a bad character, a bad temper or bad intentions. Don’t use this one lightly—being bad milk is a big insult in Argentina and not the sort of thing you’d say to someone’s face.

Siempre trata de manipularte. Es mala leche. (He always tries to manipulate you. He’s a bad person/has bad intentions.)

4. Levantarse a alguien — To pick someone up

Literal translation: To lift someone

This is just one of many informal Spanish phrases related to dating. It means to pick someone up or hook up with someone. You can also throw in slang words for girl ( una mina, una piba ) or boy ( un chavón, un pibe ) to make your sentence even more authentic.

¿Vas a levantarte a alguien esta noche? (Are you going to pick someone up tonight?)

5. Ponerse las pilas — To get your act together 

Literal translation: To put your batteries in

Unlike the English phrase “to recharge your batteries,” this phrase doesn’t mean to relax, but the opposite. Ponerse las pilas means to get some energy, get your act together, concentrate or “look alive.”

You might say this to someone who needs to focus on a task or who’s having trouble getting out of bed.

¡Ponete las pilas y vamos! (Put your batteries in and let’s go!)

6. Estar al pedo — To not be doing anything

Literal translation: To be to the fart

Believe it or not, there’s a large number of phrases related to farting in Argentinian slang. You might call a friend to ask what they’re doing and they would reply “Estoy al pedo” if they’re just hanging around at home.

Quieres salir? Estoy al pedo. (Do you want to go out? I have nothing to do.)

7. Estar en pedo — To be drunk

Try not to confuse this phrase and the previous one, as they have very different meanings. 

No puedo recogerte. Estoy en pedo. (I can’t pick you up. I’m drunk.)

This phrase also has another related phrase, ni en pedo,  which means “not even if I were drunk.”

8. Tener fiaca — To feel lazy

Literal translation: To have laziness

Tengo fiaca is a common phrase in Argentina to say that you’re too lazy to do something. It’s a fairly acceptable excuse to not go out with friends, for example. 

No quiero salir … Tengo fiaca. (I don’t want to go out…I’m feeling lazy.)

9. Mandar fruta — To BS 

Literal translation: To send fruit

This phrase means to BS someone or make something up. You can use if it someone is acting like they’re an expert about something they don’t actually know anything about it. This is fairly informal so you should only use it with close friends to avoid insulting anyone. 

¡Dejá de mandar fruta! Dime la verdad. (Stop BSing me! Tell me the truth.)

10. Tómatelo con soda — Calm down

Literal translation: Take it with soda

Tómatelo con soda is a way of telling someone not to get worked up, to calm down or to “take a chill pill.” This expression comes from the practice of mixing alcohol (usually wine) with soda water to dilute it and make it go down smoother.

Tómatelo con soda, estoy bromeando. (Calm down, I’m just kidding.)

This phrase isn’t as common as it used to be but is still widely understood. You could alternatively just say tranquila, which means basically the same thing but isn’t as fun. 

11. Remar en dulce de leche — To do something difficult

Literal translation: To row in dulce de leche

Dulce de leche is a substance thicker than caramel in Argentina, so remar en dulce de leche means to do something that takes a lot of effort or is difficult to achieve. It’s somewhat similar to the English saying “sticky situation.”

Hacer ese tramite fue como remar en dulce de leche. (Doing that procedure was like rowing in dulce de leche.)

12. Ir a los bifes — To get to the point

Literal translation: To go to the steaks

Ir a los bifes has nothing to do with going to a steakhouse, but instead means to get to the point or to face a difficult situation head-on. 

Vamos a los bifes. (Let’s get to the point.)

Quiz on Argentinian Slang

Now that we’ve gone over some Argentinian slang expressions, it’s time to test what you’ve learned! Take the short quiz below (without looking at the answers above!) and just refresh the page if you want to start over or retake it.

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Which expression would you use to say that you're feeling lazy?
Correct! Wrong!

Which expression would you use to tell someone to calm down?
Correct! Wrong!

Which expression would you use to say that someone has bad luck?
Correct! Wrong!

What does the expression ir a los bifes mean?
Correct! Wrong!

What does the expression mandar fruta mean?
Correct! Wrong!

What does the expression remar en dulce de leche mean?
Correct! Wrong!

What does the expression levantarse a alguien mean?
Correct! Wrong!

What does the expression ponerse las pilas mean?
Correct! Wrong!

Argentinian Slang Expressions
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You've mastered these Argentinian slang expressions. Now it's time to start using them in your Spanish conversations with Argentines!

How to Learn Argentinian Slang

Like in any country, Argentina is full of its own expressions. This post is an excellent place to start, but your journey into Argentinian slang shouldn’t end here.

You can find plenty of videos on YouTube either featuring authentic, informal speech by Argentines or specifically made to teach you Argentinian slang words, like this one from Spanish55:

For video clips with additional support for learners, you can use an immersive language program like FluentU. FluentU takes authentic Spanish content and turns it into language lessons.

The program’s video-based dictionary lets you look up slang you want to practice to instantly find definitions, example sentences and videos that use it in context. While watching videos, you can click on words you don’t know in the interactive subtitles to learn their meanings and usages.  

 

With these Argentinian slang words under your belt, your Spanish will be as colorful as the houses in Buenos Aires!

To learn more Argentinian language, check out this post next:

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