Translations dictionary

ruca

roo-kuh ]

What does ruca mean?

Ruca has a range of meaning in different Spanish dialects, variously referring to arugula, a type of hut, an old lady or spinster, a girlfriend or wife, a whore, or a female gang member.

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Related words

puta, del putas, pinche, pendejo, mami, morrita, cabrón

Where does ruca come from?

Ruca for “arugula” comes from a Latin root that also yields the leafy greens’ British name, rocket.

Ruca for a kind of “thatched hut” comes from the language of the indigenous Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina. Spanish then adopted the word.

Staying in South America, the indigenous Quechuan rukhu means “old,” which Spanish apparently adapted as ruca when it borrowed the word. This spread especially in Mexican slang, where it can refer to a “has-been.”

The “old” sense of ruca became a shorthand for older women, particularly in the sense of “old lady” as it’s used as slang for a female significant other. By the 1950s, ruca was used to describe to girlfriends of Chicano gangsters in the United States as well as female gang members more generally. This use influenced ruca as 1990s prison slang for a male “inmate’s girlfriend or wife.”

The California-based rock band Sublime helped popularized ruca as “girlfriend” in 1992 with their track “Waiting for My Ruca” off their hit album 40 Oz. to Freedom. In it, the singer asks his ruca: “Ramona, am I the only one?”

Examples of ruca

The machi lived in a thatched-roof hut, or ruca, above an isolated little lagoon.
Patrick Tierney, The Highest Altar, 1990
I always smile at the old lady from work that dogs me, para que me odies más RUCA [so that you hate me even more, ruca] 🤪😘
@soyselenaa, August 22, 2018
Look chica estás tan ruca como yo. [Look chica you're as ruca as I am.] And the fact that you're calling me judgmental insinuates that it is an opinion formed with no supporting facts.
@Rtovar1189, February 20, 2020
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Who uses ruca?

Ruca for “girlfriend” or “wife” is common in Chicano culture, especially in Los Angeles and New York and in mixed English–Spanish contexts. Ruco is sometimes used as a male equivalent. Down in Mexico, ruca can still literally mean “old.”

Be mindful that ruca‘s meaning widely varies. In Chile and Argentina, expect it to refer to traditional huts. In Spanish, the lettuce. But in Peru? It can mean “whore.”

Elsewhere in Romance languages, Ruca is the Portuguese name of the French-English Canadian children’s show Caillou, which means “stone.”

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of ruca like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ruca that will help our users expand their word mastery.