Category Archives: moving around

Plata, guita, mango, gamba, luca, palo

This post is about money, money (♫), about the thing that according to Ms. Minnelli makes the world go round.

If you are in Argentina, you may already know that we generally call money plata (silver in English) instead of the appropriate word, dinero. 

But there is another word we user to refer to money, and that word is guita.

So accordingly to the context where you want to use the word money, you’d have to choose among these words, being dinero the most formal, plata the most popular and guita the more informal.

 Mango is another word that has the same meaning as plata, dinero and guitar, but is usually used to express that someone doesn’t have plenty of it.

 –         No tener un mango, is the most common phrase to express that someone is poor, or currently don’t have money.

–         No tener un mango partido al medio (the literal translation would be not to have even a buck broken in half) means to be broke, to be in a really bad financial situation.

Talking about informal ways to refer to money, we found the words gamba, luca and palo, which are words to refer to quantities of money.

Gamba* = 100

Luca = 1000

Palo** = 1.000.000

Mango can also be used to refer to quantity of money.

1 mango = 1 peso


 –         Yo, hasta el palo verde no paro. (Until my first million of dollars I won’t stop). Verde, which means green, when used in a money conversation is to express that the currency is in dollars.

–         El restaurant es bueno, pero carísimo: gastamos dos gambas por cabeza. (The restaurant is good, but really expensive: we spent 200 each).

–         Estoy pensando en comprarme un auto, pero sólo tengo 20 lucas, así que todavía me falta ahorrar mucho para comprar el que quiero. (I’m thinking in buying a car, but I only have 20.000, so I still have to save plenty to buy the one that I want).

–         Esto de llegar a fin de mes sin guita me tiene cansada. (I’m tired of getting to the end of the month without money).

–         Es un tipo de plata. (He is a wealthy guy).


Gamba, in lunfardo, also means leg. So if a girl has really nice legs someone could say “tiene muy buenas gambas”.
Palo also is used as a blow, as an accident or a crash. Darse un palo means to be in accident.


Bondi, colectivo, cole, micro, ómnibus

All these words refer to the same thing: the bus. But depending where you’re in Argentina, you’ll hear one, two or all of these words.

Omni, in Latin, means all, or for everyone, so ómnibus means a “bus for everyone”. You’ll hear this word coming specially for old people. Also, when referring to the bus station (Estación de Omnibus).

Cole is short for colectivo, and is usually used for buses running inside the city.

Bondi is a word for lunfardo. While traveling in Brazil, a long ago, I discovered that tram in Portuguese is “bonde” or “bondinho”, so I guess bondi comes from there. This word is mostly used in Buenos Aires, although is spreading. Here, it’s only used as cole or colectivo: for local buses.

Micro, in the other hand, is used to refer to long distance buses.

In some other cities of Argentina, things are different. In some places they call the local buses micros and the long distance ones, colectivos.

Anyway, doesn’t matter which word you use, people will understand what you mean, but I think is nice and interesting to understand this small differences.


– Es re tarde, ¡me tengo que ir ya o voy a perder el micro! (It’s very late, I have to go now or I’ll miss the bus!)

– ¿Qué bondi tenés que tomar? (Which bus do you have to take?)


If you say bus in Argentina anyone will get it, but be aware that we don’t use it.