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Definition of Changa

Changa comes from the Argentine colloquial language, referring to an occasional or short-term job. Used on occasions where the person is unemployed and gets a temporary job.

The word changa can also derive from “changas”, which refer to informal, risky and heavy work activities, and generally, poorly paid. This word etymologically comes from the Galician-Portuguese «changa» with the same meaning.

In essence, a changa is a subsistence job.

In another sense related to the first meaning, it implies action, where the term is metaphorized: you can get paid for a job and spend the money immediately, and there use the phrase “the changa was spent on food.”


We call changarín a person who for a long time cannot find a stable job, and goes from one job to another quickly, also changing the areas. It is considered a qualifying adjective.

The presidency of Argentina has long included this category in different censuses, to differentiate a person who does a job from another who is totally unemployed.

In other Latin American countries, its use is common, under other meanings.

  • For Cuba , changa refers to a joke or joke.
  • In Puerto Rico , it can be used to refer to the butt of a marijuana cigarette.
  • Paraguay and Uruguay also report a temporary subsistence job.
  • In Argentina it is in common and permanent use, always referring to aspects of an economic nature, but also to a description of a social situation, by indicating that, for example, a family lives off “changas.”