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.

Estar caliente, calentarse, hacer calentar

These phrases have completely different meaning depending on the context. If you’re talking about a huge discussion you had with your boyfriend or girlfriend, estar caliente would express that you were (or still are) very mad about it.

In the other hand, if last night you met an awesome person, and you kissed, and you went a little further, but not as further as you had would like to, estar caliente will be used to express that you’re horny.

Now, the boyfriend/girlfriend that make you mad, the guy or girl you met and left you wanting more, those people te hicieron calentar, meaning he/she made you mad or he/she aroused you a little bit. Or not so little, actually.

Some examples:

– ¡Estoy re caliente! Organicé todo yo sola, y le pedí sólo un favor, pero ella como siempre se olvido. ¡¿Cómo no me voy a calentar?! (I’m really angry! I organized all by myself, I asked her to do only one thing, but as always she forgot about it. How not to get mad?!).

– … y estábamos ahí, tranzando, cuando me dijo que tenía que irse, que al otro día se tenía que levantar temprano. Me quedé recontra caliente. (…and we were there, kissing, when she told me she had to go, that she had to wake up really early the next morning. I was horny as hell). Note: in this case the phrase could actually mean to be mad about it, so if this pop up in a conversation you may want to inquire a little further 😉

– Este tipo siempre me hace calentar. Le dije mil veces que no use mi patio como su tacho de basura. (This guy always drives mad. I’ve told him a zillion times not to use my backyard as his own trash bin!).

– ¡No me hagas calentar…! (Don’t make me mad!) This is a very common phrase among Argentinians, usually when a discussion is increasing a little too much.


As you probable has noticed this a word to use only in familiar conversations. If you’re trying to say to someone from work – like to your boss – that you’re very mad about something I recommend you to use enojado/a, indignado/a, furioso/a, etc.

Pedo, estar al pedo, estar en pedo

Well, this is a word that you most likely won’t want to use in formal situations, or with people that you don’t know.

Pedo is actually a fart. And tirarse un pedo is to fart.

But this word has also non scatological uses. One of these uses is to say that someone is drunk. You’d say that the person está en pedo. This phrase also goes to say that someone is crazy.

Now, if a person tiene fiaca, and s/he has been all day doing nothing, we could say the person está al pedo.

 –         ¿Qué hiciste hoy? ¿Fuiste a trabajar? (What did you do today? Did you go to work?)

–         Nah, me quedé en casa todo el día. Estuve al re pedo. (Nah, I was at home all day. I haven’t done anything.)

 –         El sábado me tomé todo y terminé super en pedo. (On Saturday I drank everything and I ended up really drunk)

 –         Mi jefe está en pedo si cree que vamos a llegar a terminar todo para mañana (my boss is crazy if he thinks we’re going to finish everything for tomorrow)


Please, note the different meaning that the words en and al provide to the sentence.

verb estar (to be) + al + pedo = to have loads of free time, nothing to do

verb estar (to be) + en + pedo = to be drunk, to be crazy.

 Related with the meaning of en pedo, as in being drunk, and also related with ni ahí and ni a gancho, we have ni en pedo.

 Ni en pedo means that you won’t/wouldn’t do something even if you were drunk. It’s another way of saying no way.

–         Che, ¿nos tomamos un bondi? (Hey, should we take the bus?)

–         ¡Ni en pedo! Ya son las 3 de la mañana, tomemos un taxi.  (No way! It’s already 3 in the morning, let’s take a cab).

 De pedo is a phrase we use to indicate that we’ve accomplished something by chance, or just barely, at the last minute, with a little bit of luck.

 –         Le iba a pedir a Pablo que trajese vasos de plástico, pero me olvidé, pero de pedo él justo trajo un par (I was going to ask Pablo to bring some plastic cups, but I forgot about it, but just by chance he brought a few).

–         De pedo me acordé del cumpleaños de Mónica. (Just barely I remembered it was Monica’s birthday).

Another common phrase including the word pedo is a los pedos, which means in a hurry, very quickly, to be on the run.

–         Tuve que hacer todo a los pedos, porque me enteré ese misma mañana que viajaba a la noche (I had to do everything very quickly because I’d found out in the morning that I was traveling that same night).


Fiaca, hacer fiaca, tener fiaca, ser fiaca

Fiaca, in lunfardo, mean laziness, idleness. It’s the feeling of not wanting to do anything but to chill.

Hacer fiaca means exactly that. The exact translation would be “to do laziness”, but we use this word to express we don’t want to do anything: only to stay home and do nothing, or to go to someone else’s house to stay there and do nothing there. Well, perhaps watch a movie, definitely listen some music, but nothing that would require a great physical – nor  mental – effort.

Tener fiaca, means that you feel lazy, that you’re not in the mood for great movements. It means that your perfect plan for the evening is to watch the last season of The Wire in just one sitting, or something like that.

Ser fiaca means to be lazy. If you usually have fiaca and you usually do fiaca, people most likely will think of you as a fiaca. Larva is another word that might be used to describe you.

Fiaca, when used to describe a person, personify the kind of people that never wants to move, never visits you (s/he ask you to visit her/him), they call you to do something and at the last minute they will send you a text message to tell you that they’re not in the mood now to move from their places. And it gets a lot worst in the winter!

Here, some examples:

  • Ayer a la noche me acosté tardísimo y ahora tengo una fiaca increíble, ¿no querés venir a casa a ver una peli? (Yesterday night I went to bed reaaaally late, now I’m feeling really lazy, don’t you want to come home and watch a movie?

  • ¡Hace mucho frío! ¿Y si en lugar de salir a caminar nos quedamos haciendo fiaca en casa? (It’s very cold! Instead of going out for a walk, why don’t we stay home chilling?)

  • El día está hermoso, el sol está divino: es un día perfecto para hacer fiaca en el parque. (The day is beautiful, the sun is shinning: it’s a perfect day for chilling at the park)

  • Siempre intento organizar algo con él, pero es tan fiaca que es imposible sacarlo de la casa. (I always try to organize something with him, but he’s so lazy that’s impossible to take him out of his place)

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.

Tomar, pegar

If you’re already familiarized with the Spanish language, I’m sure you already know that to drink, in Spanish, is beber.

So if you go to Spain or to most countries of Latin America, you’ll hear in restaurants or bars: ¿Qué te gustaría beber? (What would you like to drink?).

If you say this in Argentina, everyone is going to understand you, and many people, might use it, but I think it would be useful for you to know – specially if you’re young and you go from bar to bar – that we use another word for this: tomar.

 –          Me tomé todo. (I drank everything). This phrase is used the next morning, while explaining your friend why you can’t remember what happened last night.

–          ¿Qué querés tomar? / ¿Qué preferís tomar? (What do you want to drink? /What do you prefer to drink?)

–          ¡Te tomaste hasta el agua de los floreros! (You even drank the water from the vases!). This phrase is of course used to indicate that a person drank waaay too much.

Tomar also means to take. So if you’re going to take a shower, you’ll say “Voy a tomar una ducha”, although you could also say “Me voy a pegar una ducha”.  If you’re going to take a bus, you say “Voy a tomar un bondi

Pegar literally means to hit or to glue or to stick, but in some contexts we also use it as to get and to talk about the effect of drugs in someone.

–          ¡Pegué un super trabajo! (I got a great job)

–          No sé qué fumó, pero le re pegó. (I don’t know what he smoked, but he’s really stoned).

–          Este collage me tiene cansada, estoy harta de pegar papelitos. (This collage is making me sick, I’m tired of gluing little papers).

–          Desde que se conocieron, están todos los días juntos, pegados. (Since they met, they’re every day together, like glued to each other).

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.