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When I look back on my past travels, it’s the tiny insignificant details that I miss. Not that there was anything insignificant about my life in Buenos Aires. One of the things that I miss the most is the charming colloquialism found in Argentine Spanish; or maybe I should call it castellano— pronounced caste-SH-ano. In honor of the culture I admire so much, I will be sharing 5 of my favorite words from Argentine castellano— dictionary style, but with a twist!

1. boludo/a [m,f] 1) idiot, dummy. 2) buddy

On many occasions when I was enjoying a round of cervezas (beers) with a group of Argentines on a crisp summer night, I would always catch a familiar word in the shot gun Spanish many portenos (natives of Buenos Aires) spoke with each other when they met in groups. “Che boludo!” They would shout into the night, standing from their seats at the outdoor café, greeting their approaching friends in excited salutation. I was told the phrase was akin to “Hey buddy!” My ear then became tuned and ready to hear the word wherever I went. And I began to notice some portenos would answer their cells with a simple “boludo” or “boluda” instead of hola. Once I became familiar with the word I was able to translate it immediately after I heard it, which made me feel like a fellow Argentine.

2. bombón [m,f] 1) candy, chocolate 2) a beautiful man or woman

The first time I attempted to go clothes shopping in Buenos Aires was the first time I heard the word bombón. It was the first time I heard the word morocha (see number 5) as well. I was walking in the neighborhood Palermo Hollywood with my book bag slung over one shoulder, trying to absorb everything like a new kid on their first day of high school. But I was distracted by all the whispers of, “Oh bombon! Morocha!” I had no idea what the men of Buenos Aires were saying to me, which made me feel more alien and like I stepped off a space ship instead of an airplane. But an Argentine friend explained to me that to be called bombón was a huge compliment in Buenos Aires; she explained that the men were saying I was so gorgeous I was like a luxury chocolate — a delicacy. It wasn’t because of my color. All gorgeous women and men are called bombón in Buenos Aires, but I noticed the irony between the word bombón and my skin color and it inspired the name of my website — Imported Chocolate.

3. Concha [f] 1) Shell 2) Vagina

… Pillow talk. ;0)

4. Cuiqui [m] 1) To be afraid.

On my last night in Buenos Aires I was proposed to then bestowed with a plastic party whistle (I still have the whistle by the way). The proposal was not real of course, just the usual romantic-dramatics of the Argentine male. As the night drew to a close, my handsome Argentine admirer led me by the hand to a more intimate part of the dark lounge, hoping to steal a kiss. I was literally going to be leaving for my flight four hours later, which was 4am. And he desperately wanted that kiss. However, his idea of intimate was a full on tongue on tongue make out session in front of a lounge full of Argentines enjoying their drinks. I didn’t care how dark the room was or how cute he was. I wasn’t in the mood for it.

I prefer my make out sessions a little more… 1 on 1 and private, which doesn’t fly in the PDA capital of the world. So when we stepped out into the night, before I caught my colectivo back to my flat, I gave him two quick feather kisses on the lips instead of the tongue he wanted. His reply to this was, “Cuiqui. You are afraid.” Then he made a motion with one hand, touching all his finger tips to his thumb. I found the gesture interesting.

5. Morocho/a [adj] 1) A person with dark hair and complexion; similar to Moreno/a/

Morocha was the first name I was called when I arrived in Buenos Aires. At first the word disturbed me because of its similar sound to roach.

“Are they calling me a roach?” I asked my friend offended.

She laughed. “No. It means dark skinned girl,” she said.

I would soon learn it is a common thing in Argentina to call someone a nickname by the characteristics of their looks; this is done out of affection. I soon became comfortable with the name and adopted it as my official name in Buenos Aires and for the title of my book.

So these are five of my favorite Argentine words. I have more but wanted to share a few with you.

What are your favorite slang words from around the world? Comment below and share!

NOTE: Photo found via. I do not own any rights.

9 Comments

  1. AngelQT says:

    These are cute, and helpful. They also use “bombon” in Spain, and it is one that I’m fond of too. 🙂 I am glad that “Morocha” is the word of choice in El Cono Sur. The Spaniards use “negrita” which always rubs me the wrong way! “Morocha” just seems more melodious, so I might be able to take that a little better.

    Here are 4 from Spain that still stick in my brain:

    Guay = Cool
    Piripi = Tipsy (I still remember some guy laughing when I used it correctly in context for the first time at a bar refering to his “wing man”)
    Requete = Super, extremely, very (Everything is “requete bien” if they really like it! lol)
    Tío/a = It literally means “uncle, aunt” but they use it to refer to anyone- a friend, a random person- kinda like “homie, dawg, pal, buddy, etc.”

    So sad we won’t cross paths during our journey, but I look forward to hearing/talking about it upon our return!

    ¡Ciao…Morocha! Hehe… 😉

    • Jennifer says:

      I love these, Angela! Thanks for sharing! I wouldn’t like “negrita” either. It sounds like a pet name for the “other” word, you know? I’m so sad we won’t get to hang in Buenos Aires. I also wanted to give you your Imported Chocolate swag in person, but I guess I will just mail it to you when I get it. Did you find your apartment yet?

  2. Jennifer

    what a delight to have stumbled upon your site! Buenos Aires has been calling me for at least 6 or 7 years. Usually couldnt find a friend to go and december is holiday with the family time. I have finally said” Im Going!” so I would like to go the whole month of november. I dont know anyone, but i do speak spanish and italian. Plan to rent a house in Palermo, but I feel my heart my flourish in the city and I may live there for a while. I would love to talk with you and get some more encouragment on taking this trip alone.

    Best
    NB

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Nicole,
      Such a pleasure to meet you! You should so do it. I will be traveling back there next month for two weeks. I will be taking the trip again alone. And I can do it you can too! :0) Yes, we must chat. I will shoot you an email now.

  3. Kai says:

    I’ve probably been called a few of these names but to be honest, I haven’t been able to register any of it as I’ve had my ‘guard up’ the whole time I’ve been here (just two days but feels like forever). It’s a beuatiful city but I can’t help feeling the men and their ‘desperate’ actions let it down… I’ll try a walk later on bearing in mind what these words mean…

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Kai!
      I see you’re in BA. Is it your first time there? If so, what your feeling is completely normal. I cried my first few days, but then I got used to the culture over time and began to have a good time. how long will you be there?

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, they are very aggressive. But there are a lot of nice Argentine guys too. It should be fun for you to figure out the words now that you know what some of them mean. :0)

  4. Michaela says:

    Hola Morocha 🙂

    Im happy to read that you have enjoyed my country, it is a beautiful city and yes the men are a little overwhelming when they see beautiful women of color, bc its exotic to them, they always assume im brasilian when i visit lol bc my father is a dark italian its the funniest thing. But they do mean it as a huge compliment.

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