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!)
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! 😉