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I have heard this phrase, and several similar around the word "vago", but I don't really understand what it means.

The word "vago" seems to translate directly to "vague"... But what does this sort of expression actually mean?

To wander aimlessly, perhaps?

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"To wander aimlessly, perhaps?" Probably (the expression is not used in my surroundings), related to "vagar". wordreference.com/definicion/vagar –  leonbloy Apr 9 '13 at 21:16
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4 Answers 4

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"Andar de vago" o "andar de vaga" (both are correct, but the first one is for the masculin gender and the second one for the feminin gender) means in Mexico "being almost all the time out of home". But this has also the implication of not doing anything beneficial.

"Mírate nada más, no haces nada... ¡¡¡eres un vago!!!"
Look at you, you do nothing... you're a "vago"!!!"

You think of a "vago" that he has no job or he doesn't study (if he's a teenager or in his early twenties) so basically he passes all his time in the street, just hanging around with friends and wasting his time. It's not really a "vagabundo" because this would translate actually like "homeless", so "vago" is not strictly the same, though it could eventually be, by extension of the meaning.

"Vago" in this case is related to the verb "vagar" which means "to go around with no specific destination". The word "vago" can be translated indeed as "vague" as well, but not in this context. An example where this meaning is used can be:

"No comprendí lo que me dijo... fue algo muy vago." - I didn't understand what he said... it was too vague.

Here you use the term to express that, what was said was not clear enough or not detailed enough.

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Thanks for the thorough answer, and welcome to Spanish.SE! –  Flimzy Apr 17 '13 at 3:23
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I haven't heard 'andar de vaga' before but I have heard 'andar de vago'.

I take it to mean someone who goes around without a real direction in life. Perhaps they live off of their family and maybe have a part time job but at 28 years old they should really have started a career and moved out by now. A waster.

Perhaps it is meant to reference the phrase in a female manner? And therefore imply something else?

I think of 'andar' like to 'go around' doing something,

Me contaron ayer que desde que se fue su esposa anda de borracho.
They told me yesterday that since his wife left him he spends the whole time drunk.

And vago - Vagabundo

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It was a woman who said "andar de vaga" to me; if that makes a difference. –  Flimzy Apr 10 '13 at 3:11
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Yup, that's exactly what it means. "Vago" is short for "vagabundo" (the English equivalent would be "vagabond"), which quite literally means "drifter" or "vagrant."

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"Vago" means "tramp". But "Andar de vago" is equivalet to say "being always outside your home" (or whatever place you are supposed to stay). In my country (El Salvador) it is said mostly to those teenagers who always want to spend their time outside their home.

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+1 Same meaning in Mexico, by the way welcome to Spanish.SE. –  Alfredo Osorio Apr 10 '13 at 21:03
    
Thank you @AlfredoOsorio. –  Guillermo Gutiérrez Apr 10 '13 at 21:31
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