[#008] Requetecontra

Today we’ll focus on a very short word. It has only two letters, but it has a very powerful effect. Without further ado, let me introduce you to our guest today:


Re” is a very commonly used word in Rioplatense Spanish, especially among teenagers and young adults. Some people may say it’s not actually a word on its own, but only a prefix that can be added to other words. We are not going to go into that debate here, and we’ll just treat it as a separate word.

Re” means simply “very” or “really”. It’s basically used in informal contexts as an intensifier. Here are some examples:

    Tu amigo es re gracioso.
    Your friend is very funny.

    Esa peli es re interesante.
    That movie is really interesting.

    El libro que me regalaste está re bueno.
    The book that you gave me is very good.

    Es re común usar “re” acá.
    It’s very common to use “re” here.

At first glance, the structure looks very simple: re + adjective. But that’s not all. The word “re” can also be used to modify adverbs and even some prepositional phrases.

    Vino re re rápido.
    He came really really fast.

    Lo reparó re fácilmente.
    He fixed it very easily.

    Viajo re seguido.
    I travel very often.

    Vino re de lejos.
    He came from really far away.

    Está re de moda.
    It’s really fashionable.

    Estamos re a favor.
    We are totally in favour.

Oh, well. I guess things can always get a bit more complicated, right? Because that’s not all either. It’s also possible to use the word “re” with verbs and nouns.

    Me re gusta esta canción.
    I really like this song.

    Te re esperé, boludo, y nunca apareciste.
    I waited for you a lot, dude, and you never showed up.

    Está re lloviendo.
    It’s raining heavily.

    Ayer dormí una re siesta.
    Yesterday I took a very long nap.

    Tengo unas re ganas de tomar un helado.
    I really want to have an ice-cream.

    Conseguí un re trabajo, por suerte.
    I got a really good job, luckily.

As you can see, in the previous examples the word “re” still works as an intensifier, but in some cases it can also convey some other meaning that we can recover from the context; not just “very”. When we say “una re siesta“, we are probably talking specifically about its length. Or if we say “une re crisis“, we are most likely referring to how bad it was. We can then say the following:

    Una re siesta = una siesta muy larga
    A very long nap

    Una re crisis = una crisis muy profunda
    A very deep crisis

    Un re accidente = un accidente muy trágico
    A very tragic accident

    Un re sueldo = un sueldo muy alto
    A very high salary

Of course we can also say all these sentences in other ways, without using “re“. Naturally, we can also use words such as “muy“, “mucho“, “realmente“, “un montón“, etc., which can all be considered intensifiers. But “re” is definitely heard in informal contexts quite frequently, especially among young people.

Personally, I suggest being careful with the use of “re“. As you can see, it can be used in lots of different situations and structures, but that doesn’t mean that it can be used all the time. In some cases, the structure may look fine, but the meaning conveyed might not make the sentence acceptable, such as “re mañana” (“very tomorrow” [?]), “un satélite re natural” (“a very natural satellite [?]), or “tomó re té” (“he drank very tea” [?]). Explaining the reasons why these specific examples may sound weird (while the previous ones do not) would require getting more technical, which is not the aim of this blog. So we’ll just recommend using “re” in those cases where you’ve heard it or read it before, so you can be sure it’ll sound fine.

And to finish this post, I’ll share with you a comic strip where the author seems to be making fun of the way teenagers speak in the River Plate area (overusing “re“), their apparently contradictory nature and how difficult it seems to be to understand them.

Gaturro Gateen

  • But hey, why is this entry called “Requetecontra“?

Oh, well, that’s just because we Argentines can always… “overexaggerate” things. So we don’t only say “re lindo” for “very nice”, but also “requete lindo” or “recontra lindo“… Or even “requetecontra lindo” (“very very nice”)!

And that’s all, I promise! Hmm… Oh, well, who am I cheating? We could even say something like “requetecontrísimamente lindo” (“really really really nice”).

As you can see, there’s always room for more! 😉


[#007] ¡Qué boluda!

In the previous entry, we discussed the word “boludo“, its meaning and possible connotations.

Today, I want to share with you a couple of videos where this word is used. These videos belong in fact to a campaign made by the Argentine Red Cross in 2008. The slogan for this campagin was the following:

Campaña Cruz Roja

Can you understand the meaning of this phrase? The words “BOLUDO” and “BOLUDEZ” are used in two different senses here. If we translate this into English, it will probably be difficult to keep the pun between the words. But for this blog entry we just need to understand the meaning of the text, so this could be a literal translation of the slogan:

    In the country where we all call one another SILLY/STUPID, helping had to be EASY.

As you can see, the idea behind this slogan is to encourage people to do something that is considered very easy: make a small donation. If this is a “boludez“, it’s something everyone can do. And if we all call one another “boludo“, you can’t help but feel identified with this campaign.

Here is the first video I want to share. You will see an elderly woman (China Zorrilla, a famous Uruguayan actress) talking about the Red Cross campaign and also about the word “boludo“.

Here is a transcription of the video, plus an approximate translation of what the woman says:

Enviá un mensaje con la palabra AYUDA al 2789.
Send a message with the word HELP to the number 2789.

Donás $1 y salvás una vida.
You donate 1 peso and you save a life.

Eso me encantó. Hasta que lo di vuelta.
I loved that. Until I turned it over.

Y mirá con lo que me encuentro.
And look what I find.

“En el país donde todos nos decimos BOLUDO…”
“In the country where we all call one another BOLUDO…”

¿Pero qué es eso?
But what is that?

No todos nos decimos “boludo”.
Not all of us call one another “boludo”.

Yo no le digo “boludo” a la gente. La gente no me dice “boluda” a mí.
I don’t call other people “boludo”. Nobody calls me “boluda”.

¡Mirá lo que fueron a colocar!
Look at what they wrote!

No, yo el aviso no lo puedo hacer porque yo no digo “boluda”.
No, I can’t do this ad because I don’t say “boluda”.

Ay, me quiero morir. ¡Me quiero morir! Me puse la pollera al revés.
Oh, I want to die. I want to die! I’m wearing my skirt inside out.

¡Qué boluda!
How silly of me!

As you can see, this woman seems to consider this word offensive or vulgar. That’s why she makes it very clear that she doesn’t use this word, and she says that she refuses to do the ad for the campaign. But in the end, to her surprise, she finds herself actually using the word when she realizes she did something silly. She then calls herself “boluda“.

In the second video, in contrast, you will see a man (Mario Pergollini, a well-known TV presenter from Argentina) who has no problem in using this word. Here it is:

I’ll transcribe only the first part:

Hola, boludo. ¡Sí, a vos!
Hi, boludo. Yes, you!

Si los argentinos nos decimos siempre “boludo”.
(‘Cause) we Argentines always call one another “boludo”.

No lo digo yo, eh. Lo decimos todos.
I’m not the (only) one saying it, eh. We all do.

¿Quién es? Araceli
Who is it? Araceli

¡Subí, boludo!
Come on up, dumbass!

Ay, la blusa… ¡Qué, boluda!
Oh, my blouse… How stupid of me!

I hope these videos give you a better idea of the different ways in which this word can be used in different contexts. There are some other videos of this campaign, too. So feel free to look for them on Youtube if you want to.

But don’t worry too much. This word will keep appearing in future entries anyway, so you will be seeing more boludos and more boludeces here soon! There’s no way you won’t end up using it just like a true rioplatófono. 😉

[#006] ¡No digas boludeces, boludo!

Last year, Juan Gelman (Argentine poet, winner of the Cervantes Prize in 2007) was asked to choose one word that would identify and represent all of Argentina. Only one word. He chose “boludo“.

Boludo” is a relatively recent word that started to spread really quickly in the River Plate area. In fact, it is one of the first words you’ll learn here, and since you can hear it everywhere, it is definitely very useful to know its meaning.

It is so much used nowadays, that it has actually become a hallmark of the Rioplatense Spanish variety. It is not used by other Spanish speakers, unless of course they are referring to (or making fun of) us, rioplatófonos.

Here is a picture that I took in the city of Montréal, at the amusement park La Ronde.


The moment I saw this word written on this post, I knew I wasn’t probably the first rioplatófono to visit the park.

  • So what does “boludo” mean?

The word “boludo” comes form the noun “bola” (“ball”) and it simply means “someone with big balls”. But that’s the literal meaning. In reality, when rioplatófonos use this word, we are not (normally?) talking about the size of our testicles. “Boludo” means simply “idiot” or “fool”. Therefore, you don’t need to be a man to be a boludo. Boludas, or silly women, also exist.

It started out as an insult, yes. And a very bad one indeed. If you had received a good education at home, you were not supposed to use such a terrible swear word… Except everybody started using it. It spread really quickly. And the more it was used, the less strong it started to sound. So much so that, for some situations, it eventually lost all its negative connotation. So instead of using this word to refer to a stupid person, all of a sudden it became possible to use this word to refer to just… a person. Yes, the word “boludo” can now also be translated as “buddy” or “mate”.

It can still be used as an insult, though. So you have to pay attention to its context in order to understand its meaning. Do the people using this word know each other? Are they close? What has happened? Are they angry at each other? Knowing this kind of information will clarify the meaning. Here are some examples of the possible ways in which this word can be understood:

¿Qué hacés, boludo? (What’s up, buddy?)
¡No seas boludo, che! (Don’t be silly, man!)
¡Qué boludo que sos! (You’re such an idiot!)
¡Qué boludo que sos, boludo! (You’re so silly, dude!)

Mind you, sometimes it’s all about intonation. The same phrase can imply either a neutral or a negative attitude, depending on the way it is said.

  • Are there other words related to “boludo“?

Of course! We have, for example, the verb “boludear“, which has two meanings. When it’s used on its own (just “boludear“), it means to waste time, to do nothing really important, to mess around. However, when it’s used in the structure “boludear a alguien (someone)”, it means to tell lies to someone in order to deceive them or hide something from them.

—¿Qué andás haciendo, Juan? (What are you doing, Juan?)
—Nada, acá ando, boludeando (Nothing, just here, messing around)
—Dale, no me boludees (Come on, don’t lie to me)

Another related word is the noun “boludez“. It can be translated as “nonsense” or “rubbish”, or it can also refer to something that is very easy to do or solve (or well, something so simple that even a boludo could do it!)

—Todavía tengo que escribir el ensayo (I still have to write the essay)
—Es una boludez, ¡yo ya lo hice! (It’s very easy, I’ve already done it!)
—¡No digas boludeces! Hay que escribir un montón (That’s nonsense! There’s a lot to write about)
—Calmate, boludo, y tomate un mate. ¡Yo te ayudo! (Calm down, dude, and have a mate. I’ll help you out!)

Calm down, boludo

After reading the previous examples, I guess you can now easily understand the title of this entry: “¡No digas boludeces, boludo!“. “Decir boludeces” means to talk nonsense, to say stupid things.

Alright, I guess that’s enough for today. We’ve seen the words “boludo“, “boludear” and “boludez“. Next time I’ll probably share a video with you, so you can listen to these expressions and try to spot the different meanings.

Start practising them! 😉