Gringo Lingo, History and Culture, Learning Spanish in Buenos Aires

Lottery Slang in Argentina

Madi Lang

By | September 7, 2010 | 1 comment


Argentinean slang

Quiniela: Luck of the Porteño

Walking down the streets of Buenos Aires, keen observers might notice little hole-in-the-wall shops with a banner saying, Quiniela. These little huts are the offices of a special lottery where locals bet on numbers and test their luck. If you’re like me and you don’t have a lucky number, Quiniela is the right game for you. No need to keep betting on the same favorites, as the tradition of this game is to remember your dreams and play the numbers that correspond. The chart below lists the numbers and the dreams with which they are associated. While Quiniela is played in other countries as well, the dream association is a practice unique to Buenos Aires.

Most of the dream associations are quite clear. For example, those who dream of a vast seascape at night would choose lucky number 1, el agua. Or those who dream of a fetching young lady would choose lucky number 15, la niña bonita.

The meanings behind other Quiniela numbers are more cryptic, however, as their meanings have been culled from local slang (lunfardo). The best example is lucky 55, el gallego. Ever since immigrants from Galicia, Spain arrived at the Port of Buenos Aires, los gallegos have been ridiculed and stereotyped for being rude, hard-headed brutes. This stereotype has stemmed the tides of time, and is now used as a colloquial term meaning, a crass or stubborn ruffian.

Interestingly, the Quiniela lottery has played an important role in society since the early days of tango. Street hoodlums used the numbers as a coded slang to throw off the cops, and subsequently these codes appeared in the stories told though tango song lyrics. Translated below is the last phrase of the song, “Por culpa del escolazo” (The fault of horse race winners’ list). These lines by Roberto Grela-Cerere highlight a sentiment of hope and illusion mirrored in this game of luck as in real life:

Y, hay que darse el gusto, total… en unas de esa viene el 9, llama al 13 y nos manda al 94. Qué 17…!
[And, you have to indulge...in one of these come the 19 (stream), then the 13 (bad luck) and sends us to the 94 (cemetery). What 17 (misfortune)!]

So ladies, next time you hear a Porteño (Buenos Aires resident) slyly referring to you in slang as a 15 (pretty young girl), you can look at him and say, “Che 22, andate un poquito a la 71!” (Hey, crazy guy, go eat shit!).

Ojo! (Caution!) Keep in mind if you are in a restaurant and the mozo refers to you as a 15 or worse as a 78 (prostitute), they are most likely referring to your table number. So save yourself a little embarrassment, and don’t take it personally!

Below is a list of numbers and the dreams they are associated with. Review the list and comment below. Create your own Spanish pick up lines, insults and phrases in slang with these Quiniela numbers and win yourself a 72 (surprise).

Number Sueño (Spanish) Dream (English)
00 Huevos Eggs
01 Agua Water
02 Niño Little boy
03 San Cono Saint Cono
04 Cama Bed
05 Gato Cat
06 Perro Dog
07 Revólver Revolver
08 Incendio Fire
09 Arroyo Stream
10 La leche Milk
11 Minero Miner
12 Soldado Soldier
13 La yeta Bad luck
14 Borracho The drunk
15 Niña bonita Pretty young girl
16 Anillo Ring
17 Desgracia Misfortune
18 Sangre Blood
19 Pescado Fish
20 La fiesta The party
21 La Mujer The woman
22 El Loco The crazy guy
23 Mariposa Butterfly
24 Caballo Horse
25 Gallina Hen/ Chicken
26 La misa The mass (religious)
27 El peine The comb
28 El cerro The hill
29 San Pedro Saint Peter
30 Santa Rosa Virgen Stanta Rosa
31 La luz The light
32 Dinero Money
33 Christo Christ
34 Cabeza Head
35 Pajarito Little bird
36 Manteca Butter
37 Dentista Dentist
38 Aceite Oil
39 Lluvia Rain
40 Cura Priest
41 Cuchillo Knife
42 Zapatilla Shoe
43 Balcón Balcony
44 La cárcel Jail
45 El vino Wine
46 Tomates Tomatoes
47 Muerto Death
48 Muerte que habla Speaking with the deceased
49 La carne Meat
50 El pan Bread
51 Serrucho Saw
52 Madre Mother
53 El barco Boat
54 La vaca Cow
55 Los Gallegos People from Galicia (gross/rude)hard headed
56 La caída Falling
57 Jorobado Hunchback
58 Ahogado Drowed
59 Planta Plant
60 Virgen Virgin
61 Escopeta Shotgun
62 Indundación Flood
63 Casamiento Marriage/ Wedding
64 Llanto A cry/ weeping
65 Cazador Hunter
66 Lombrices Worm
67 Víbora Viper
68 Sobrinos Nephews
69 Vicios Vices
70 Muerto sueño Seeing dead people
71 Excrementos Excrement
72 Sorpresa Surprise
73 Hospital Hospital
74 Gente negra Black people
75 Payaso Clown
76 Llamas Llamas
77 Las piernes Legs
78 Ramera Prostitute
79 Ladrón Theif
80 La bocha Boche ball
81 Flores Flowers
82 Pelea Fight
83 Mal tiempo Bad weather
84 Iglesia Church
85 Linterna Flashlight
86 Humo Smoke
87 Piojos Lice
88 El Papa The Pope
89 La rata Rat
90 El miedo Fear
91 Excusado Excused
92 Médico Doctor
93 Enamorado Lover
94 Cementerio Cemetery
95 Anteojos Eyeglasses
96 Marido Husband
97 La mesa Table
98 Lavandera Laundress
99 Hermano Brother

Madi Lang is a private concierge and Buenos Aires trip planner who helps create unique and tailor made itineraries for Argentina bound travelers.

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