I didn’t understand a word when I first landed in Argentina. I studied Spanish in college, got all A’s, but no amount of formal classes can prepare someone for communicating in Buenos Aires. Not only do the porteños speak ridiculously fast, but 95% of words that come out of their mouths are pure slang. Some of the words listed below are staples of the porteño lexicon, while others are much lesser known words I’ve learned through friends.

Cheto/a: depends on the context, but usually means someone who has a lot of money, lives in a upscale neighborhood, only goes to expensive clubs, wears designer clothes, etc. It can mean the same as “snob” but not all “chetos” are “snobs.”

  • Nacho es muy cheto. Vive en un country en Pilar y se compró una campera de cuero de AR$7000. (Nacho is very cheto. He lives in a gated neighborhood in Pilar and bought himself a AR$7000 leather jacket.)
    • Synonyms: careta, snob, top

Escabiar/Escabio: Escabiar is a verb that means “to drink alcohol.” “Escabio” is the alcohol itself.

  • Ya compré el escabio y ahora vamos a escabiar toda la noche. (I already bought the booze and now we’re going to drink all night long)
    • Synonyms: chupar

Fantina: A mix of cheap wine and Fanta. It is the preferred beverage of the street people of Buenos Aires.

  • Tengo ganas de tomar una buena Fantina. (I have the desire to drink a good mix of cheap wine and Fanta)
    • Synonyms: mezcladita, “Terminator” (Termidor box wine and Fanta)

El Popular: El popular (also commonly referred to as “el popu”) is a communal mixed drink. The most common type of popular is a mix of Fernet Branca and Coca-Cola. El popular can be drank out of any sort of large mug or glass, but is most commonly drank out of a large plastic bottle that has been cut in half.

  • Hacemos un popular? (Should we prepare a popular?)

Chamuyar: Chamuyar can mean a variety of different things. It usually refers to the tactics used when men in Argentina try to pick-up women. “Chamuyo” are the words and speech that are used when trying to pick-up. Someone who has “buen chamuyo” is someone that knows how to talk to women or someone who is able to influence others through words. A “chamuyero” is someone who frequently uses such tactics. Chamuyar and the spin-off words can have bad connotations, and are often interchanged with “to lie” and “liar.”

  • Tengo muchas ganas de chamuyar! (I’m in the mood to go out and flirt with women!)
  • Jose tiene buen chamuyo (Jose knows how to swoon the ladies).
  • Chicas, no le crean! Es un chamuyero! (Girls, don’t believe him! He’s a chamuyero!)

Stay tuned for part 2!!