Lunfardo: The Meaning of ‘Curda’

Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language in Argentina (especially in and around Buenos Aires) and Uruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.

In Lunfardo, the word “curda” refers to a drunkard, a bout of drinking or drunkenness itself. Equivalent slang terms for curda (in the drunkard sense) are lush, sot, sponge, wino, and boozer. Binge, bout of boozing, and binge drinking are acceptable translations for instances where curda is used to describe a drinking session.

Curda is often paired with a verb (e.g. le agarró una curda), giving it the meaning “to get drunk/inebriated/intoxicated.” When used in this manner, other possible informal English translations of the word include to get hammered, to get wasted, to get smashed, to get plastered, to get trashed, to get bombed and to get lit.

The Dictionary of the Real Academia Española states that this Lunfardo term entered the lexicon directly from the French dialect word curda, meaning pumpkin or squash. Another source cites a Romani/Gypsy dialect word meaning drunk as the origin of curda, which, frankly, seems more plausible.

Related words in Lunfardo:

noun curdela: same meanings as those listed above

noun curdeli: same meanings as those listed above

Usage example: Sólo quedaba un pobre curda tirado en la calle. // Only a poor drunk remained lying in the street.

The 1956 tango La última curda by Aníbal Troilo and Cátulo Castillo features the word “curda” in the title and lyrics.

Lastima, bandoneón,
mi corazón
tu ronca maldición maleva…
Tu lágrima de ron
me lleva
hasta el hondo bajo fondo
donde el barro se subleva.

¡Ya sé, no me digas! ¡Tenés razón!
La vida es una herida absurda,
y es todo tan fugaz
que es una curda, ¡nada más!
mi confesión.

 

Contame tu condena,
decime tu fracaso,
¿no ves la pena
que me ha herido?
Y hablame simplemente
de aquel amor ausente
tras un retazo del olvido.
¡Ya sé que te lastimo!
¡Ya sé que te hago daño
llorando mi sermón de vino!

 

Pero es el viejo amor
que tiembla, bandoneón,
y busca en el licor que aturde,
la curda que al final
termine la función
corriéndole un telón al corazón.
Un poco de recuerdo y sinsabor
gotea tu rezongo lerdo.
Marea tu licor y arrea
la tropilla de la zurda
al volcar la última curda.

Cerrame el ventanal
que arrastra el sol
su lento caracol de sueño,
¿no ves que vengo de un país
que está de olvido, siempre gris,
tras el alcohol?…

 

 

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