Popular Argentina Hand Gestures

Programs for this blog post

Liberal Arts

Authored By:

CIEE Buenos Aires

A large part of the Argentine population are descendants of Italian immigrants, who came to this country during the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can see the Italian influences in many aspects of the Argentine culture: food, our passion about football (soccer), the way we relate with family among other. But one that is quite unique is when it comes to how they communicate. Italians are known for speaking with their hands, and this habit has passed onto their Argentine descendants. 

To move around Argentina like a true local, this blog will help you decipher the hand gestures that are most used, which you can also pick up and use easily without causing any unfortunate misunderstandings! 

1.🤌🏼 (Pinch fingers together): Are you kidding me?! / ¿Me estás cargando? 

[Bring your fingers and thumb together and point them upward. Move your hand up and down from the wrist.] 

A multipurpose gesture to express complete disbelief. ‘’What the hell is wrong with you?!’’ 

2. 💁🏻‍♀️ (Flick hand under chin): I don’t know / No se, ni idea. 

[Stick out your lower lip, tilt your head back slightly and flick the back of your fingers from underneath your chin.] 

A great one to use when someone asks you where the number 108 bus stops and you don’t have a clue! It can also be used as a sign of boredom or apathy, as if to say ‘’Don’t know, don’t care, why are you still here?’’ 

3.👋 (Wave hand behind head): A long time ago / Uff ¡hace mil años! 

When someone asks you about something that happened a long time ago it is common to use this expression to emphasize this idea. For example: “When was the last time we saw Clara from school? Uff, that was ages ago!” 

4.👌(Make “c” shape with fingers): Little coffee/ cortado 

[Make a C sign with your fingers while signaling the waiter across the room.] 

An incredibly useful gesture in busy cafes where you don’t actually need to talk to the waiter, but you need your coffee fixed muy pronto! 

5.💪🏼(Bend elbow): Cheapskate / ¡Qué ratón! 

[Pat your elbow with the palm of your hand.] 

You organize an asado and ask people to pitch in with the meat. Then one of your friends turns up with nothing more than a handful of tomatoes. You are probably going to want to use this gesture to make it clear just how much of a cheapskate they are! 

6.👆🏼(Point to eye): Watch out! / ¡Ojo! 

[Point to your eye and pull down your lower eyelid using your index finger.] 

Be careful! Watch out or you’ll get into some kind of trouble! Your Spanish teacher will probably use this protective gesture plenty of times in class, when you mistakenly use ‘actualmente’ instead of ‘en realidad’. 

7.🫳🏼 (Wave hand, palm down): So-so / Maso menos 

When you need to talk about something that is not really defined, it’s in the middle and you can’t decide. For example, “I’m not feeling quite well, I'm so-so" 

So next time you are practicing your Spanish, be it in class or outside of school, pay attention to see if you can spot some of the gestures you have learnt here. You can then even start to incorporate them into your own conversations too!