Category Archives: positive expression

Zarparse, zarpado, zarpada

Zarpar literally means to set sail, but in Argentina this verb has a completely different meaning when we use it in a reflexive way.

When we say zarparse we don’t want to say that a person is going to sail away, although if someone se zarpa we might want him or her to sail very far away, to a very distant land, out of our sight.

Zarparse means to go beyond the reasonable limits. Zarparse can mean that someone is out of line, is joking a little bit too much or is doing much of something.

So, someone that is usually out of line is a zarpado or a zarpada. But when we use the adjective to refer to a thing, the word zarpado/zarpada can have a positive meaning: you can use it to say that something is re copado or genial.

Zarparse de means to be exceedenly something. Zarparse de lindo is to be beyond good looking, zarparse de rico is something extremely tasty or that has a lot of money (that is, to be forrado en guita) and zarparse de bueno could mean to be extremely nice or extremely hot, depending on the context.

  • Martín es un zarpado: como Carolina no quería estar más con él, intentó algo con su hermana. (Martín is a complete bastard: since Carolina did not longer want to be with him, he tried something with her sister)
  • … y entonces, después de muchas horas de escalada, llegamos a la cima. (… and then, after a few hours of climbing, we made it to the top)
  • ¡Zarpado! (Awesome!). Note: in this case, when using the word in an exclamation, stress a lot the “pa” syllable for a real Argentinean effect 😉
  • Lola es una zarpada: lleva dos días sin dormir porque se está preparando para el examen del viernes. (Lola is crazy: she hasn’t sleep this two last nights because she’s preparing herself for this Friday test).
  • Pablo se zarpa de bueno. (Pablo is really hot). Note: in this case, stress the syllable “zar” and practice your r.

Buen domingo, ¡y no se zarpen!

Piña, dar una piña, darse una piña

Piña, in most Spanish speakers countries except Argentina, means pineapple. Piña it also means pine cone. But in some other countries – now including Argentina – piña means thump, knock or a strong hit.

So, accordingly with this particular meaning, “dar una piña” is to hit someone else, to thump someone. But “darse una piña” is a different thing. Darse, in this case, with this particular extra “se”, means that the verb is reflexive – which means that the subject of the sentence and the object of the sentence refer to the same person – so it could be translated as give to oneself a thump.

Doesn’t sound that logical, right? Well, we use the phrase darse una piña to refer to a crash or to fall or to a hit. If someone was riding his motorbike too fast and crashes into a car we would say that s/he se dio una piña.


–    La piña que le dio fue tan fuerte que le quebró la nariz. (S/he hit him/her so hard that his nose was broken)
–   Me acaban de llamar para avisarme que Julio se dio una piña con el auto. Parece que está jodido (They just called me to let me know that Julio was in a car accident. It seems  serious).
–   Pedro iba a los pedos y se terminó dando una piña (Pedro was going really fast and he ended up having an accident)

A whole different thing is when we use the word piña in the phrases “sale como piña” and “va como piña”. This two have a meaning quite similar to the one that gives title to this blog, sale con fritas, and it basically also means that somethings runs fast and smoothly.

If something is a sure thing, we say sale/va como piña. If we want to generate agreement about something, we also say sale/va como piña.

–    Caro me dijo que sale como piña el próximo catálogo. (Caro told me that the next catalogue will be ready soon and it will be great)
–    Sale como piña noche de caipirinhas este sábado, no? (It would be great a Caipirinha’s night this Saturday,  wouldn’t it?)

Attention! Please, take into account that all these uses of the word piña are very very informal, and it’s basically slang. So if you want to properly say to hit, use golpear o pegar, and if you want to inform to a concerned parent that his/her child was in an accident, please say tuvo un accidente.

Estar hasta las manos

This entry is going to be mainly based in true recent events, because I can deeply relate with “estar hasta las manos”, at least in one of the two uses it has 😉

The literal translation of estar hasta las manos is to be up to the hands, and it means to be completely exceeded by a situation. So here is when the meaning can change from positive to negative. Well, actually that’s not totally accurate, but let’s see.

If you are working against the clock, you have to deliver a 5000 words paper for tomorrow and you’re just starting now, you can accurately say that you are hasta las manos.

Now, if you’ve met someone incredible two weeks ago and you’re already considering the possibility of moving together and you’ve started discussing babies names (which means that you’d already settled on how many children you want to have), we can certainly and doubtlessly say that you both are hasta las manos. It would depend on the observer if the phrase hasta las manos has a positive meaning (that you’re really in love and into each other) or a negative one (you’re simple insane, in a bad way, you should calm down a little bit).


– Hoy a la tarde tengo que entregar el proyecto de tesis, pero justo me llegó un montón de trabajo y para colmo me avisaron que quizás no cobre este mes. ¡Estoy hasta las manos! (I have to turn my thesis project this afternoon, but I’ve just got loads of work and to top that, HR just informed that I might not get paid this month. I’m up to my knees!)

– No puedo evitarlo, estoy hasta las manos con Julia. (I can’t help it, I’m really into Julia)

– Pedro está hasta las manos con el tema de la relación de Juan y María, no puede superarlo (Pedro is really affected by Juan and Maria’s relationship. He can’t get over it).

Copado, copada, genial

These two words have a similar use to macanudo, that is they’re a positive way to refer to someone or something.

Someone copado is someone very cool and/or interesting. It can also express that someone is a nice person, very easy-going, with good vibes.

If you’re talking about an event or a thing, copado means the event/thing is also very cool, fun, exciting, etc.

Genial could be translated as brilliant, great, awesome, etc (I assume you get the vibe and I don’t need to keep writing synonyms ;)).

Genial can also be used to describe a person, an event or a thing. Of course this word is more intense than copado, so if you’re talking about an event and you say it was copado, it means that you’re glad you went; if the event was genial, it means we’d be sorry for not going. And while alguien copado is someone worth knowing, alguien genial is someone you have to meet. 🙂

About the mess created about the two meanings of the verb To Be in Spanish – that is, ser and estar – this is more or less how it goes (there are some exceptions, of course):



Genial and copado, in the same way as macanudo, can also be used to agree with someone or something.

Some examples:

–         Martín es re copado. Ayer nos estuvo contando de sus viajes por Asia. (Martín is really cool. Yesterday, he told us about his travels around Asia).

–         El cumpleaños de María estuvo genial: había muchísima gente – todos muy copados – la música era buenísima, ¡y había canilla libre! Nos quedamos hasta las 8 de la mañana. (Maria’s birthday was awesome: there were a loooot of people – everyone was great – the music was fantastic and there was an open bar! We stayed there until 8 am).

–         Todas las películas de Kubrick son geniales. (All Kubrick’s films are brilliant)

– ¿Vamos mañana a tomar algo? (Do you want to go tomorrow for drinks?)

– Dale, copado. (Great, let’s)

Negro, negra, negrito, negrita, negri

Well, I think it’s time to talk about something that might sound strange to some people, even politically incorrect to others.

In English, specially in the US, there has been and still is a huge debate about which is the correct form to refer about someone whose skin is black.

In Argentina, the word negro is used with several meanings and not all are bad. So you can here someone saying negro, negrito or negri in a very sweet way, to a friend, a partner, even to a costumer – thing that I find very annoying because it means a confidence that I don’t have nor I wish to have.

This way, negro, negri, etc, is like saying honey or darling or dear.

Anyway, someone saying “Negri, ¿querés que te haga un café?” (Honey, would like a coffee?), of course doesn’t mean anything in particular about the other person, in fact, could be the whitest person in the world.

Unfortunately not always this word has a positive meaning: many people in Argentina use the word negro/negra as an insult.

–          ¿Qué podés esperar de él? ¡Si es un negro! (What do you expect from him, if he’s black!). Just an awful, terrible thing to say, but sadly, you’ll hear stuff like this all over the country.

Many Argentinians have a long way to go in the path to a language free of discrimination.


Joya actually means “jewelry”, but when it comes to Argentineans speaking, this word has different uses.

The first one is to say that something is great, or very good.

–         ¿Cómo estás, todo bien? (How are you? Everything’s good?
–         Sí, sí, todo joya. (Yes, yes, everything is great).

The second one is to agree with something/someone.

–         Mañana te doy el dinero que te debo (Tomorrow I’ll give the money I owe you)
–         Joya. (OK! or No prob)

Joya nunca taxi”

This is an idiom that has it origin in used cars salesman. The exact translation would “jewelry never cab”. Doesn’t make much sense, doesn’t it?

Well, what “joya nunca taxi” means is that the car the salesman is showing is so good – even though it’s used – that you’ll never have the need to take a cab because the car broke down.

Some people – not many – use this phrase to say something is really great or is doing really good, not necessarily referring to used cars, of course.

Please, keep in mind that the Y in Argentina sounds like a SH. But I bet you already knew that.  🙂

Macanudo, Macanuda

Macanudo is also a positive expression, as sale con fritas. Macanudo is also part of the lunfardo, and it means “OK” or “all right”.

In that sense, it’s used mostly by adults, mostly over 50. It will be used to agree with something, like a meeting for the next day.

– Entonces ¿nos vemos mañana, a las 5? (So, are we meeting tomorrow at 5 pm?)

Macanudo, a las 5. (Ok, at 5).

Macanudo is also as an adjetive to describe someone very nice, the kind of person that is always willing to help.

– Y, ¿cómo es? (So, how is he?)

Macanudísimo (Very nice)


Macanudo can be also an eufemism for a ugly or not good looking enough person. For example, someone is trying to set up a friend with a girl, and the guy asks “¿Es linda?” (Is she pretty?) and the person replies “Es macanuda” it most likely means that’s not cute. But a good person, of course.