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Most of the Spanish I learn is of the Mexican slang variety but I'm not sure I quite understand this one.

Can anyone explain the meaning/origin or contextual usage of "Cueros de rana?" I am told that it is slang for "money." I'm guessing it's like bucks. Green skin as in "frog skin." "Plata."

Any ideas? Thanks.

  • I tried to validate that by finding examples in the Internet and I could not find any. I visited several sites about slang expressions in Mexico with no luck. Could provide an example of its usage? Are you sure it is really a common slang expression and not a private joke? I can tell you that it does not have that meaning in the Castilian Spanish. – Diego Apr 27 '15 at 14:46
  • I realized today that I typed it wrong. I have edited the post. It should have read "Cueros de rana" not "Piel de rana." My apologies. I've heard it used as slang for money but I can't seem to understand if it's very localized or widely used slang. Also I'm not sure of the context. Thanks for the comment. Sorry about the confusion. – greyghost19 Apr 28 '15 at 2:54
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    It means "dollars" in the drug world. – user13329 Aug 2 '16 at 16:07
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According to Tumbaburro de la Picardia Mexicana (Jimenez, A. Editorial Diana, 1977), a book that compiles hundreds of Mexican slang expressions, "cueros de rana" would be...

"...a 100 pesos banknote that had a brownish colour and went out of print in 1975".

The original "Cuero de rana"

Incidentally, and according to Bank of Mexico, from 1925 and 1978 Mexican banknotes were printed by the American Bank Note Company from New York, USA, before giving way to the Banknote Factory of Bank Of Mexico. Perhaps that would explain why some Mexicans nowadays say "cueros de rana" when talking about 'US dollars'? ;)

In any case, I never heard of that expression. I know money can be referred as "varo", "varos", "morlaca", "borrega", "lana", "feria", "billete", "pachocha", "billullos", "morlacos"... I guess it depends the region we are talking about (Mexico is a big country).

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  • Thanks! I have heard many expressions for money as well. Some of those you mention as well as others like chavos or plata. Wading through "callajero" or street slang as I am told, seems impossible sometimes but interesting nonetheless. – greyghost19 Apr 29 '15 at 5:24
  • That would be 'callejero' (from the word 'calle' = street). Never heard about 'chavos', but I've heard about 'plata'. Mexican slang is utterly rich. One good way to learn it is listening to 'Chilanga Banda', a song composed by the musician Jaime Lopez. The astonishing feat about the song is that 90% of its lyrics are slang words that start with the letters 'CH'. Check Youtube for Cafe Tacuba's rendition cover video (there's one with subtitles). – BringBackCommodore64 Apr 29 '15 at 8:40
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I was born and raised in the state of Sonora, and as you may know narco culture is more deep-seated in northern states specially across the border or the so-called Triángulo Dorado.

Going back to the meaning of the expression: It indeed has evolved into a narco slang, it literally means "frog skin" which is a metaphor for green money, since US dollars have historically been green toned and also been the main currency between the narco and the cartels it definitely has an illegal connotation.

As another user has mentioned, it may be subject to joke around but I would avoid its usage when referring to "clean" money. Other actual slang terms I would recommend would be either: "feria", "lana" or "varo", any other like "morlaco", "billullo" or "pachocha" are long forgotten and in no more use since at least the Golden Era of Mexican cinema (1930-1960).

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Interestingly enough, it is worth noting that this kind of expressions, believe it or not, appear in the Diccionario de americanismos in the ASALE web:

cuero

ǁ ~ de rana. loc. sust. Mx. Dólar. delinc.

So it is an expression used in the delinquency world ("delinc."), in México ("Mx."), and means "dollar". I am not from México so I do not know if it has some other, slightly different connotation, but checking that dictionary you can get the idea of what the expression means.

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Cueros de rana or cueritos de rana, is used to refer to dollars.

Other answers say it is not used any more but it's been used recently in this lyrics by 'Los Tigres del Norte':

Los Tigres Del Norte - El Hijo De Tijuana

"Yo soy puro cachanilla, nacido y criado en Tijuana

No soy borrego señores, y cargo kilos de lana

Por eso me ven gastando, puros cueritos de rana"

That is:

I am pure cachanilla(people fro Mexicali), born and raised in Tijuana

I am not lamb, and carry kilograms of wool(money)

So you see me spending, pure frog skins

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This is a very old expression, and probably nobody uses it nowadays. My understanding is that it means U.S. dollars.

I came across this expression reading "La familia burrón", an old Mexican comic.

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It definitely sounds mexican, I did a quick search and that's the definition, money. Apparently it's narco slang, and means dollars. It's not very spread in the entire population, so the use is very reduced. I think it's something you should avoid, it's not wrong but since is related to the narco culture, is better is you only know the word and maybe joke with your friends but just that. Maybe I am exaggerating but it's better not to use this kind of words, my opinion of course, there's people who joke around a lot with this stuff but they don't look quite good.

A dictionary says that it comes from the old brown paper money of the 70's but apparently the meaning changed with time.

Again maybe I am being too exaggerated so, you can decide using it or not.

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  • Do you have more information on why you think it's part of narco culture? This is interesting to me because of where I heard it. While I do not think those who use it necessarily mean to use it in such a way (as to imply approval of narco type things) I am interested if it has any connotations. I suspect this may be the case.I have asked a few other spanish speakers as well and it is decidedly Mexican as far as I can tell. – greyghost19 Apr 29 '15 at 5:30

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