Eager to visit Argentina and put your Spanish into practice? Great! There’s nothing better than practicing a language with native people. We would know, as here at TruFluency our native teachers encourage speaking practice.

So, you go, visit places, immerse yourself in a new culture and hold conversations with locals. You won’t regret it! But, before that, we recommend you learn a few Argentinian Spanish idioms. Idioms are those common phrases and words that you won’t usually learn at school and that belong to one language or culture.

Sadly, some schools focus on teaching you just grammar or normal vocabulary lists, like animals and numbers. But they miss idioms, which are just as important because locals use them in their daily lives and in all kinds of conversations. And Argentinians are no exception.

Argentina is a culturally rich country. They have delicious food –can’t miss their dulce de leche–, amazing music –we bet you’ve heard about Soda Stereo–, worldwide icons –hello, Messi?–, and much more. Their language is just as rich; they have various idioms that add to their vocabulary and ways of expressing themselves.

So, if you want to truly understand natives, TruFluency knows some of the best idioms from Argentina you must learn now.

15 Argentinian Idioms

1. Boludo

You might’ve heard this word used as an insult. That’s true, it can be used to call out someone stupid or dumb. But it’s also used a lot with friends without it being an offense. It’s just a way Argentinians call their friends.

You can know if it’s being used as an insult or not by the context. If it’s an insult, it might come accompanied by other swear words.

For example: ¿Qué onda, boludo, qué haces por acá? (What’s up, dude, what are you doing around here?)

2. Salir de joda / Irse de joda

It’s an expression to say you’re going out to a party.

For example: Ven, vamos a salir de joda al nuevo club. (Come on, we’re going out to party at the new club).

3. Flashero

This word is used to say something is out of this world or something is surprising. It’s also used for someone that imagines crazy things.

For example: ¿Fuiste al concierto? ¡Estuvo re flashero! (Did you go to the concert? It was insane!)

You might also hear the word “flashear”, which is the same but in verb mode. So “flashear” is to imagine crazy things.

For example: Él se puso a flashear con que iba al espacio en bicicleta. Es un flashero. (He started imagining he went to the space on a bicycle. He’s crazy).

4. Pibe

Word used to refer to a boy or a young man.

5. Capo

It’s a word used to say someone is really good at something.

For example: Mi esposo es un capo en el fútbol. (My husband is a master at soccer)

6. Más vieja que la escarapela

An “escarapela” is a cockade. This expression means that something is very old.

7. Mala leche

Phrase used to refer to bad luck. So, if you hear someone has “mala leche” it means they have bad luck.

8. No tener un mango

“Mango” in Spanish is the tropical fruit, but in Argentina it’s also a way to refer to money. In this case, this phrase literally means to not have a mango. But it’s actually used to say you have no money at all.

For example: No tengo ni un mango para comprarle un regalo de cumpleaños a mi novia. (I don’t have a penny to buy my girlfriend a birthday gift).

9. Estar al horno

It’s used when you’re in a very difficult situation or in a complicated moment in your life.

For example: Olvidé la tarea para hoy y encima reprobé el examen. ¡Estoy al horno! (I forgot today’s homework and on top of that I failed the exam. I’m toast!)

10. En la loma del orto

Beware of the word “orto”, as it’s a vulgar way to refer to the butt. However, this idiom is nothing vulgar; it’s just used for when something is very far away.

For example: ¡El aeropuerto está en la loma del orto! (The airport is very far away!)

11. Me mataste

Literally this is “you killed me”. But as an idiom it’s used as an answer for when you don’t know something.

For example: ¿Sabes cuál es la respuesta a la pregunta tres del examen? / Me mataste. (Do you know what’s the answer for the third question of the exam? / I don’t know).

12. Hacer la gamba

In Argentina “gamba” is a word for leg, but in general this idiom means “to do a favor”. So, you could say: “¿Me hacés la gamba?” or “hacéme la gamba” to ask someone for a favor.

13. Remar en dulce de leche

We said at the beginning of the blog that you can’t miss the dulce de leche when you go to Argentina. That’s because it’s part of their traditional gastronomy and it’s delicious. And as you can see, it’s also mentioned in this idiom that’s used to say that something takes a lot of effort to do.

Literally, it means “to row in dulce de leche”. The idiom makes sense if you think that the dulce de leche has a thick texture. So it wouldn’t be easy to row there.

For example: Hay que remar en dulce de leche para conseguir un trabajo. ¡Es muy cansado! (It takes a lot of effort to get a job. It’s very tiring!)

14. Me pinta

Literally it means “it paints me”. But in fact this expression is used when you agree with doing something, when you like the idea. You could also hear “¿te pinta?”, when someone wants to know if you’d like to do a specific thing.

For example: Vamos de compras, ¿te pinta? / Me pinta. (Let’s go shopping, would you like that? / I’d like that.

15. ¡Qué quilombo!

In Argentina, “quilombo” is a problem or a mess. So, when people use this phrase they’re just expressing their shock or surprise for a situation that’s messy or a problem.

Practice Truly Makes Perfect and We’ll Prove it to You!

If you want to master these idioms, not just memorize the words, you must put them into practice. If not, you’re at risk of forgetting them and their meanings. You have to use them in a sentence when talking to someone and write them in a letter.

Or even watch an Argentinian show to hear them out loud. Only then, you’ll know when to use each idiom and how to pronounce them.

It might seem like a difficult thing to do, but you already took the first step, which was reading this blog to learn new things. We’ll take care of helping you to put them into practice with our TruFluency language classes.

We have native teachers that will make sure you learn useful things, including these and other idioms. We also have our own Bellieu Method in which we based all our classes. This means there’ll be time to practice your speaking skills, so you can achieve language fluency.

So, whenever you feel it properly during speaking time, you could use one of the new idioms you’ve learned. Don’t worry if you make a mistake. The teacher will correct you in a kind way, as we understand you’re learning.

Want more? Deal! Our lessons are customized to your needs. So, if you feel like you need specific time to learn new idioms, just say it.

Oh and all our classes are completely online with flexible schedules. So, no matter where you are, you can study at TruFluency. Choose one of our language packages and schedule lessons to fit your schedule. Or take a two-hour trial class, and get ready to become a capo of the Spanish language.