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Every country has symbols that identify their culture: food, music, a flag. But what about a single word? Can a culture be accurately viewed through the lense of just one three syllable word? Well, in Argentina the answer would be yes and in this case, coming in first, without a doubt, would have to be boludo.

Boludaaaa, sos yanqui? But you speak Spanish so well!” Yes, after two years of adopting the Argentinian lingo, I can so I do, but it wasn’t always like that.

I was born in the United States but my parents are Cuban and so, I grew up speaking Spanish with my grandparents from the time I was a little girl. All of that meant very little when I arrived to Rosario and mostly thanks to this word: Boludo/a

My first experience with it was at an asado. One of the guys at the table was complaining about the fact that his utilities had been suspended because he hadn’t paid his bills. “¡Que boludo que sos!” a friend replied. Was he calling him a dumbass? Did that mean that people were constantly calling me a dumbass ? It didn’t make sense! “Is it a compliment or an insult?” I thought to myself. And that is just it, boludo and boluda is used for both.

The word boludo in Argentina is one of the most common words you will learn here. Where does it come from? Well, a boludo is literally someone with big balls. In history, the cannon fodder (soldiers who would go to battle on the front line) were called boludos, those that usually got killed first.


So it makes sense that today boludo is used as an insult to refer to an idiot or dumbass. If you say it to someone you don’t know very well, it’s considered downright offensive, but if you say it to a close friend, it’s usually considered a playful insult (like the example I gave you above about my friend calling the guy a boludo for not paying his bills).


It can also used as a meaningless interjection, something like that of the word dude “Che boludo, tenés la hora?” (Dude, do you have the time?). Just like you probably wouldn’t say “dude” to your boss, you might not want to use it in formal situations, or with people you don’t know very well.


With that being said, there are also a few variations of boludo:

boludez  (adjective) 1. something small or unimportant. 2. a piece of cake, easy

boludear (verb) 1. to mess around. 2. to bullshit or screw around with someone.

bolu (noun) 1.short for boludo


So what are you waiting for? Don’t be a boludo, choose to learn Spanish in Argentina with Spanish in Rosario!

Written by Vanessa Galban

ESL teacher