Language Dossier

Colloquialisms & Proverbs in Rioplatense Spanish

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando.
  • A cat in gloves catches no mice.
    Gato con guantes no caza ratones.
  • A stitch in time saves nine.
    Más vale prevenir que curar.
  • A word is enough to the wise.
    A buen entendedor, pocas palabras bastan.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
    La ausencia alimenta al corazón.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
    Del dicho al hecho hay un gran trecho.
  • All cats are grey in the dark.
    Por la noche todos los gatos son pardos.
  • All roads lead to Rome.
    Todos los caminos conducen a Roma.
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
    Hay que divertirse y dejar de lado el trabajo por un rato.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
    Más vale prevenir que curar.
  • Appearances are deceptive.
    Las apariencias engañan.
  • Barking dogs never bite.
    Perro que ladra no muerde.
  • Beggars can't be choosers.
    Cuando hay hambre, no hay pan duro.
  • Better late than never.
    Más vale tarde que nunca.
  • Better safe than sorry.
    Más vale prevenir que curar.
  • Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.
    Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer.
  • Birds of a feather flock together.
    Dios los cría y ellos se juntan.
  • Blood is thicker than water.
    Los lazos familiares son más fuertes.
  • Dead dogs don't bite.
    Muerto el
    perro, se acabó la rabia.
  • Don't bite more than you can chew.
    El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta.
  • Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
    No le muerdas la mano a quien te da de comer.
  • Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
    No cantes victoria antes de tiempo.
  • Don't cry before you are hurt.
    No llores antes de tiempo.
  • Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth.
    A caballo regalado no le mires los dientes.
  • Easy come, easy go.
    Lo que fácil viene, fácil se va.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
    No hay mal que por bien no venga.
  • Every law has its loophole.
    Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa.
  • Finders, keepers; losers, weepers.
    El que se fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla.
  • Give a dog a bad name and hang it.
    Hazte fama y échate a dormir.
  • God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.
    Dios aprieta pero no ahoga.
  • Half a loaf is better than none.
    Algo es algo, peor es nada.
  • Has the cat got your tongue?
    ¿Te comieron la lengua los ratones?
  • He that fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
    Soldado que huye, sirve para otra guerra.
  • I wasn’t born yesterday.
    No nací ayer.
  • Ill weeds grow apace
    Yerba/hierba mala nunca muere.
  • It takes all sorts to make a world.
    Hay de todo en la viña del Señor.
  • It's good fishing in troubled waters.
    A río revuelto, ganancia de pescadores.
  • It's never too late to learn.
    Nunca es tarde para aprender.
  • It's no good crying over spilt milk.
    A lo hecho, pecho.
  • It's the last straw that breaks the camel's back.
    Es la gota que colma el vaso.
  • Let bygones be bygones.
    Lo pasado, pisado. / Borrón y cuenta nueva.
  • Like father, like son.
    De tal palo, tal astilla.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
    El dinero es el camino de la perdición.
  • More haste, less speed.
    Vísteme despacio que tengo prisa.
  • No pain, no gain.
    El que quiere celeste, que le cueste.
  • Not all that glitters is gold.
    No es oro todo lo que reluce.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Quien no arriesga, no gana.
  • One man's meat is another man's poison.
    Sobre gustos no hay nada escrito.
  • People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
    No hagas a los demás lo que no quieres que te hagan a ti.
  • Politeness costs nothing.
    Lo cortés no quita lo valiente.
  • Queen’s Anne’s dead!
    Chocolate por la noticia!
  • Rome wasn't built in a day.
    Roma no se hizo en un día.
  • The die is cast.
    La suerte está echada.
  • The early bird catches the worm.
    A quien madruga, Dios lo ayuda.
  • The shoemaker's son goes always barefoot.
    En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
  • Think twice, act wise.
    Piensa dos veces antes de actuar.
  • To call a spade, a spade.
    Al pan, pan y al vino, vino.
  • To err is human; to forgive, divine.
    Errar es humano, perdonar es divino.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    Muchas manos en un plato hacen mucho garabato.
  • Variety is the spice of life.
    En la variedad está el gusto.
  • What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.
    Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
  • Were you born in a barn?
    ¿Vivís en carpa?
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
    Donde fueres haz lo que vieres.
  • When one is hungry, everything tastes good.
    Cuando hay hambre, no hay pan duro.
  • When there's a will, there's a way.
    Querer es poder.
  • While the cat's away, the mice will play.
    Cuando el gato no está, los ratones bailan.
  • You can't have your cake and eat it too.
    No se puede tener todo en la vida.
  • You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
    No se puede pedir peras al olmo. / Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.
  • You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
    Loro viejo no aprende a hablar.
  • You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
    Hoy por ti, mañana por mí.

Argentinian Slang

afanar steal, rob. afano ‘robbery’; ‘rip-off’.

(hacer el ) aguante to support and/or physically stand by someone

alcahuete/a stool-pigeon, informer. alcahuetear tell a secret.

apoliyar to sleep.

de arriba free of charge

autobombo self-advertising.

baboso/a a skirt-chaser, lusty, crazy about (the opposite) sex.

birra beer, a bottle of beer.

bolazo exaggeration, obvious lie, bullshit.

bondi bus.

brasuca [derogatory or colloquial] Brazilian.

cana the police force; a group of policemen.

canchero/a cool, hip, colourful

careta a snobbish person, esp. upper-classy, pedantic.

chabón a guy, a man.

chamuyo sweet talk. chamuyero sweet talker.

chanchuyo an act of corruption, an illicit agreement; dirty business.

changa a temporary job.

chanta a deceiver, a cheater, a swindler.

che ‘hey!’, ‘hey, you!’.

(no andarse con) chiquitas go for the big thing; not bother with small nuances.

chorro/a a thief, a robber.

ciruja informal recycler.

creído/a conceited.

despiole a mess, confusion.

diego ten-peso note.

embole boredom.

escabiar to consume alcoholic beverages.

fija a sure thing, a prediction which will come true.

finiquitar to finish off a matter.

gauchada a favour.

grasa kitsch, ridiculous, tasteless; rude, uneducated.

guita money.

mandaparte a bragger

metejón have a crush on somebody.

minga of course not!…

mufa a jinx.

(del año de) ñaupa since the year dot

patinarse to spend quickly and carelessly

patovica bouncer; thug  

pifiar to fail, to throw something and miss the target.

(ponerse las) pila to assume responsibility and start to work

posta really true

raspando barely, by one hair’s breadth.

recatarse to control oneself; to be careful.

sanata long speech.

(tragarse un) sapo  something very unpleasant that one has to endure.

(como) sapo de otro pozo being or feeling out of place.

 (al) toque instantly, immediately, almost simultaneously.

trucho fake, phony.

yapa a free addition.

yuta the police, as a whole.

zarparse to do something gross