Before traveling to either country, having a basic understanding of common phrases, quick hits, and old stand-by sayings will make communication much easier on the ground.
Even though it is more common to see slang in spoken language it does appear in the written language in both countries on occasion, among younger generations in South America. If you only speak English, learning these slang words will help you sound more like an experienced traveler.
When traveling to Uruguay, understand these common slang terms before you go to add a dose of humor to your conversations on the ground. Differing from what you’d hear in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, and other Latin American countries, Uruguayan slang terms are unique to the culture of Montevideo and elsewhere in the country.
These two terms are Uruguayan for “Okay.” Very basic, simple, and often used solo.
¿Jugamos? — Do you want to play?
Ta — Okay.
These terms refer to a child or teen, and are used casually — even amongst families and people with personal relations to the children.
Pasamos una mañana fantástica de paseo con los gurices. — We spent a fantastic morning outing with the children.
Used casually instead of ‘you’, making a sentence distinctly Urugayan. These terms are also used for ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’.
¡Che, bo! A ver si nos vemos un día. — Hey man! Let’s see if we see each other one day.
An expression that means courage or bravery, mainly used in football matches. It pays homage to the indigenous Charrua tribe, which defied the Spaniards.
La garra charrúa es parte del espíritu futbolero uruguayo. — The garra charrúa is part of the Uruguayan football spirit.
This one is common and straightforward — it means ‘Money.’ You’ll hear it all the time in Uruguay.
No tengo plata. — I got no money (I am broke).
The verb that describes drinking mate tea.
Estaba mateando cuando sonó la alarma. — I was drinking mate tea when the alarm went off.
Goodbye (derived from the Italian ciao).
Chau, ¡hasta mañana! — Good bye, see you tomorrow!
A lot or a long time ago, used when telling a story or to express that something took a good amount of effort to accomplish.
Caminamos pila para llegar hasta la tienda. — We walked a lot to get to the store.
It has many variations. It could mean amazing, incredible, large, and difficult, depending on the context.
Cocina como un profesional. ¡Qué salado! – He cooks like a pro, amazing!
Sports footwear, such as tennis shoes. Similar to how Americans say “cleats” or “kicks.”
Voy a estrenar esos championes. — I will use those sneakers for the first time.
Expand your Spanish vocabulary beyond slang terms before your trip to Uruguay, and have a better trip for the effort. Learn more about how to talk like a true local by starting with our Spanish Survival Crash Course.
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