Has the doom and gloom of world news got you down? Did your honeymoon phase with Buenos Aires wear off when you woke up hungover last Sunday without a peso in your pocket? If coping with temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius coupled with no AC has become too bitter a pill for you to swallow, don’t panic! Don’t buy a return ticket home yet either. We may not be able to foot the bill for a new air conditioner, but we can help take your Spanish to the next level and get a couple of laughs out of you.
If you’ve been in Argentina long enough to make your parents start questioning your life choices (as well as the customs officials who struggle to find your most recent tourist visa), you’ve probably heard the word pedo. Literally, ‘un pedo‘ means ‘a fart,’ but not functionally, it means everything else. And for a country where farting in public is considered social suicide (consider the case of María Amuchástegui) the word is used more often than you’d think.
1. Estar en pedo
Let’s say for example that it’s a typical Friday in Palermo, and that you’ve decided it’s a good idea to break out the Michael Jackson moves after having one too many drinks. “¡Boludo!” your friend Facu howls at you as he claps you on the shoulder. “¡Estás en pedo!” What? you think to yourself. Did you hear that correctly? Did your buddy Facu just tell you that you’re in a fart? The short answer is yes — but what he really means is that you’re making a fool of yourself because you’re drunk. So hold off on ordering another fernet. And, if you were to hear this phrase used rhetorically, “¿Estás en pedo?” is the equivalent of asking someone if they’re nuts. Like Facu undoubtedly asked you, the first time you invited him over to your place for dinner before 8 PM.
2. Ni en pedo
Although this could technically be lumped in with the above, we’re going to give it a heading of its own. This sucker definitely comes in handy when you do not, under any circumstances, want to do something. You already know that en pedo means ‘drunk,’ so put the ni before it, and it means ‘not even drunk.’ So, functionally ‘not even if I were drunk would I do that’ — and we all know you’ve pulled some crazy shenanigans while you were drunk. So the next time your bestie wants to go jogging in the Bosques de Palermo after the most recent thunderstorm but you have a totally rational fear of mosquitos, simply reply “Ni en pedo.” And go out to that inferno of a boliche when it’s so hot outside that it feels like you’re breathing in a wet towel? Nice try boludo—ni en pedo. So versatile!
3. Al pedo
So it’s the third time you’ve gone to Migraciones (Immigration) and you realize with a sickening sensation that you’ve left the fourth set of photocopies of all the pages of your passport (even the blank ones) at home. You stall, trip over your Spanish, and try to persuade the immigration officer to accept the three copies that you do have. Instead, it plays out as you knew it would, and he or she gives you a wicked grin before pushing your personal documents back across the desk. They don’t make photocopies here, unfortunately, so you’ve gone to get your visa al pedo — in vain. For nothing. Better luck when you go next time!
The above situation would most likely be used with the verb ‘ir,‘ to go (as in ‘Fui a migraciones al pedo), but when combined with estar — to be — ‘al pedo‘ can be used to express extreme laziness. Example: ‘Estuve al pedo todo el día.‘ An extremely colloquial translation? ‘I sat on my duff all day long and did diddly squat.’
4. De pedo
After a long, hot day in San Isidro hanging out at your bff’s pileta, you realize that time flies when you’re drinking Campari, and that if you don’t leave for the train station ya, you’re going to have to call a taxi. And taxi fares being what they are — there goes your wine budget for the week. So you run, and by some act of God, manage to catch the last train of the night. And there’s an open seat too! What do you know. You’ve made it out of sheer, dumb luck — by chance — de pedo.
5. Ir a los pedos
For our next scenario we’ll imagine you’re on you’re third date with a dark eyed dream named Agus. On a spur of the moment you decide to go to the cinema, and since you don’t feel like paying for an über, you start sprinting down the street towards the nearest bus stop. ‘Not to worry!’ Agus tells you — reassuring you with the familiar no pasa nada. ‘Slow down! El colectivo va a los pedos.‘ You stop sprinting and the cogs start turning. From the outside, it looks like it hurts. The bus goes like farts? That’s right my Anglo-friend — the bus goes like farts. Or in other words — the bus goes quickly. So quickly that it perhaps borders on (dare we say) carelessly or haphazardly. It’ll get you and your date to the cinema before you know it.
6. Cagar a pedos
This one isn’t pretty folks — if you don’t know what cagar means by now I’m not sure I can translate it for you here. What I can tell you is that (in English) it’s a four letter word that starts with an s and ends with a t. And you probably wouldn’t want to say it in front of your grandmother. But basically, if you bring one more chongo back to your shared flat on a weeknight, your housemates are going to cagarte a pedos. In essence — they’re going to rip you a new one. Berate you with lots of creative expletives. Bemoan your inconsiderateness. Nothing a bit of chocotorta won’t be able to fix.
7. Vivir en una nube de pedos
Let’s face it — if you’re like most of us, you came to Buenos Aires, you saw the city, and you were conquered. You experienced the divine, chaotic mess of the metropolis through rose colored lenses. It happened when (miraculously) you were able to overlook the dog poo smeared on the sidewalks. Or waltz past the contents of a dumpster spread out across an entire street.
And so, with the voice of a tango singer crooning in your heart, you came back, with the notion that you were going to stay. The Argentines oggled at you. What are you doing here? They asked. Well, to use their language — estamos viviendo en una nube de pedos — we’re living in a cloud of farts. For a translation you can actually make sense of — we’re
slightly totally out of touch with reality. Or at least we were for a while, until our illusions were mercilessly shattered. But despite the setbacks and disappointments (we’re looking at you, inflation) most of us stayed. And now, if someone even suggested that we’d be better off in the countries we were born in, we’d ask them: ‘¿Estás en pedo?’ Like you should remember to ask yourself when you’re trying to imagine that you could actually live somewhere else. It’s not going to happen. You won’t convince anyone. Least of all yourself. Just imagine what your life was like before a bidet! Estás viviendo en una nube de pedos.
Corrected on the of 20th February, 2017. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that ‘ir a los pedos’ meant to come often or frequently. The correct translation is to go quickly.