Money in Spanish Slang: Over 20 local terms
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Knowing how to talk about money is essential in every corner of the world and in any language. So of course, if you’re travelling around Spain or Latin America, you’d better be ready to understand the different terms for money in Spanish slang.
Some terms for money are quite universal, which are useful in banks and exchange offices. When speaking with locals, however, you’ll need to know the right slang for money in Spanish. In this post, we’ll introduce over 20 regional terms for money in Spanish!
First, we’ll cover the most neutral and widely-known words for money in Spanish. From there, we’ll concentrate on the different terms used in different countries. You’ll be amazed by the variety of terms that we’ll see in this section! As a funny wrap-up, we’ll introduce you to some common Spanish money expressions.
Now let’s dive into today’s topic, because time is money! – ¡El tiempo es oro!
How to say Money in Spanish
Although the focus of today’s post is on how to refer to money in Spanish slang, let’s start with a few neutral terms for money that are a good place to start when you’re a beginner.
Dinero is the most neutral term that you’ll find in the dictionary as a straight translation for money in Spanish. Whenever you want to talk about money, dinero is the word that is clearly understood by every Spanish speaker in any part of the world.
In local contexts, dinero is often considered as quite a formal way of saying money. When in doubt, however, dinero is always the safest option.
- I need money to buy bread every day. – Necesito dinero para comprar el pan todos los días.
- Money doesn’t buy happiness. – El dinero no compra la felicidad.
If you’re planning a trip in the Americas, then plata is the main word you should know. Plata is used as a default to refer to money across most of the Latin American countries. In terms of formality or informality, plata is rather neutral. On the other hand, plata may also convey another meaning since it’s the straight translation for the precious metal silver.
- I need you to give me back the money I lent you. – Necesito que me devuelvas la plata que te presté.
- We save a lot of money every month. – Ahorramos mucha plata todos los meses.
Money in Spanish Slang
Talking about money is an everyday topic, present in everyday conversations. By now, you’ve surely noticed that everyday language is where slang vocabulary is born. Money is certainly no exception, which is why we’re dedicating a full post to Spanish slang terms for money!
Buckle up, because we’re about to travel all over the Spanish-speaking world to show how differently people from different regions refer to money in Spanish. Now let’s see some of the differences from Spain to Argentina, and onwards to Cuban and Mexican slang for money!
Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba
In addition to being used in El Salvador and Cuba, baro is also the Mexican slang for money.
- Whitout money, you can go nowhere. – Sin baro no puedes ir a ningún lado.
All over Latin America
Billete is the term we use to refer to a banknote in Spanish. Throughout Latin America, billete can also be used to mean money in general.
- I sold nothing today! It’s because ordinary people have no money. – ¡No vendí nada hoy! Es que no hay billete en la calle.
Biyuya, Biyuyo, Billuyo, Billullo
Argentina, Uruguay, Honduras, Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile
The spelling of this word may differ according to the country where it’s used, but it always means money in Spanish slang.
- We’re broke, they’ve taken all the money we had. – Estamos en bancarrota, se llevaron toda la biyuya que teníamos.
Puerto Rico, Cuba, República Dominicana
- My friends lent me some money to pay my debts. – Mis amigos me prestaron unos chavos para pagar mis deudas.
El Salvador, Panamá
- In this family we always need money. – En esta familia siempre necesitamos chimbilín.
This word is the Argentinian slang for low-value money or coins.
- Will you lend me some coins, dude? – ¿Me prestás unas chirolas, chabón?
This slang for money in Spanish is used in Ecuador, mainly by young people.
- Guys, if there’s no money, we can’t go to the discothèque. – Chicos, si no hay cushqui no podemos ir a la disco.
Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador
This slang term in Spanish means money. In some places, it also refers to small change.
- Shall we go to the movies? / No, bro, I have no money. – ¿Vamos al cine? / No, mano, no tengo feria.
- They gave me 20 pesos in change. – Me dieron 20 pesos de feria.
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay
The straight translation of gamba in Spanish is shrimp, but in certain countries it’s a Spanish slang term for money. Specifically, we use gamba to refer to hundreds when talking about the amount of money, where una gamba is 100 pesos.
- The train ticket is about 600 pesos. – El boleto de tren sale como seis gambas.
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain, Uruguay
Guitarra is mainly used in Bolivia, while its abbreviated form, guita, is more widespread. You may be already familiar with the Spanish word guitarra, which usually refers to a guitar.
- Wanna hang out tonight? / I ain’t got no money, dude. – ¿Salimos esta noche? / No tengo guita, che.
Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Nicaragua
This term is most common in Costa Rica, where it’s used by everyone. In Nicaragua, it’s used most among young people. If you’re a fan of cooking, you’ve probably already come across this word, since the straight translation for harina is flour.
- How much money do you have left in your wallet? – ¿Cuánta harina te queda en la cartera?
Mexico, Panamá, Perú
In Mexico, Panamá, and Perú, lana is frequenly used as Spanish slang for money. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, along with the dictionary, lana simply refers to wool.
- I don’t go on vacations ’cause I have no money, bro. – No me voy de viaje porque no tengo lana, mano.
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia
In Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, luca is the slang term for one thousand pesos. In Colombia, it’s also used to just refer to one peso.
- The concert tickets are really expensive, like 25 thousand pesos. – La entrada al recital está carísima, como 25 lucas.
Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay
We know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. The usual meaning of mango in Spanish is the sweet juicy fruit. In some countries, however, we also use mango as a term to talk about an amount of money, similarly to how you might use buck in English.
Watch out, because in other regions, such as Mexico, mango has a completely different slang meaning: it refers to a hot man.
- Last night we couldn’t go out with the girls because we didn’t have a single buck. – Anoche no pudimos salir con las chicas porque no teníamos ni un mango.
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay
You may know this vocab word for the ubiquitous insect already, since una mosca is a fly. In Spanish slang, la mosca is the money.
- Fork over the money, dude! – ¡Larga la mosca, viejo!
Argentina, Colombia, Panamá, Perú
In these countries, palo is the Spanish slang term for one million pesos. In standard Spanish, uno palo refers to a club, a pole, or a stick.
- The gringos invested like fifty thousand millions in that company. – Los gringos invirtieron como cincuenta mil palos en esa empresa.
Pasta is Spanish slang for money that’s mainly used in Spain. Be careful, because In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, if you mention pasta they’ll probably think you’re talking about spaghetti!
- How much money do you have with you, dude? – ¿Cuánta pasta traes contigo, tío?
Pavo is widely used in Spain to refer to one Euro. The literal translation for pavo is turkey.
- Hey, will you lend me five Euros? – ¿Oye, me prestas un pavo?
Pela is another Spanish slang term for money that’s used primarily in Spain. Most of the time it’s used in plural form, as pelas.
- Daddy, you’ll have to give me some money to go out. – Papi, me vas a tener que dar algunas pelas para salir.
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador
Pisto in Spanish usually refers to fried vegetables. In these countries of Central America, however, pisto is Spanish slang for money.
- All my money has been stolen! – ¡Que me han robado todo el pisto!
Spanish Money Expressions
In this section, we present a few expressions that refer to money in Spanish. In general, these are everyday phrases used across the Spanish-speaking world.
El tiempo es oro
Time is money
This motivational phrase is used in the same contexts as its English counterpart!
- C’mon guys hurry up! Time is money. – ¡Vamos chicos!, apúrense que el tiempo es oro.
No todo lo que brilla es oro
Not all that glitters is gold
Like its English translation, this phrase is a warning that appearances can be deceiving. In other words, not everything that appears good at first sight necessarily turns out to be good in the end.
- Be careful with that job offer, because not all that glitters is gold. – Ten cuidado con esa oferta de trabajo porque no todo lo que brilla es oro.
Tiene más lana que un borrego
He/She has a lot of money
Remember how we saw the two meanings of lana, where in standard Spanish it’s wool while in Spanish slang it means money? Well this phrase plays on both meanings of the word, translating literally as He/She has more wool than a sheep.
- How come he cannot buy you anything? He has a lot of money! – ¿Cómo que no puede comprarte nada? ¡Si tiene más lana que un borrego!
No dar ni un peso por algo/alguien
To write something/someone off
If you no das ni un peso for something, you are considering it as insignificant and not deserving of your attention.
- The project was so badly introduced that the entrepreneurs wrote it off. – La presentación del proyecto fue tan mala que los empresarios no dieron ni un peso por él.
To be loaded
In Spanish slang, we use this phrase when we want to say that someone is rich or has a lot of money.
- Alberto has no money issues. He’s loaded! – Alberto no tiene ningún problema de plata, ¡si está forrado!
Conclusion: Money in Spanish
By now, you’re aware that understanding the diverse vocabulary surrounding money is crucial, particularly when traveling in Spanish-speaking countries. While some terms for money in Spanish are universally recognized, it’s fascinating to discover the unique and varied expressions used in different regions.
By exploring this vocabulary, we’ve gained some insight into the cultural nuances and linguistic creativity related to money. Whether it’s learning the neutral and widely known words or delving into the colorful slang terms, expanding our knowledge in this area opens up a world of linguistic richness.
Today’s journey brought us all around the Americas and even to Europe, with all our possible options for money in Spanish slang. We hope you enjoyed your trip, and we can’t wait for you to travel with us again soon!
Further reading: Spanish slang
This post’s focus was on how to talk about money in Spanish slang, which is just one specific topic among so many. If you’re interested in more lessons that specifically touch on different angles of Spanish slang, we’ll leave you with these links to some of our other dedicated lessons!