The term bacan it is used in different ways according to geographic region. It’s about a concept used in colloquial language, in the midst of informal contexts.
In countries like Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic Y chili, bacán is a adjective what qualifies what it turns out positive, nice or great. For instance: “This TV show is great! It is fun”, “I tried hard and I met the goal, it was great”, “For me it is great to have returned to my country after so many years”.
Bacán can also be used, in some nations, with reference to an individual of great physical attractiveness: “That model is cool, I would love to have dinner with him”, “I don’t think dressing that way makes you look cooler”, “When I was young I was cool: I didn’t lack suitors”.
A curious fact is that this notion is used in some areas to name the men that is kept by a woman, but in others to allude to the man who is responsible for paying the expenses of their partners. In other words, a bacán can be a man supported by his wife or who supports his wife depending on the country: “Jorge is a bacán: he spends all day at the bar while his wife struggles to bring money home”, “My uncle was a bacán, he never let his girlfriends work”.
In Argentina, Uruguay Y ColombiaFinally, the individual who has a lot of money or to elegant place: “My neighbor is a cool guy who has three cars and always spends the summer in the Caribbean”, “Don’t be crazy with me, I know that debts overwhelm you”, “Last night we had dinner in a very cool restaurant that cost us a fortune”.
Etymology of the word bacán
According to an investigation carried out by Hugo Gonzáles Montalvo for a blog titled Planetary Baccanery, the word bacán derives from Genoese Latin baccan. This theory is supported by some lungüistas of the University of Genoa, who also affirm that baccan comes from crosier, an Indo-European voice that can be defined as a ‘baton used in ceremonies that symbolizes the authority moral”.
If we focus, therefore, on the Latin that was used in Genoa, we find the old word baccan, which meant “ship captain, householder, skipper.” In turn, it is the root of bacanería, which according to a dictionary of Milanese made by Francesco Cherubini and published in 1839 can be used as a synonym for «joy«.
Italians who emigrated to Argentina took with them the term baccan. Since they used it very often in everyday speech, Argentines did not take long to understand its meaning and adapt the word to their language through lunfardo, which began as a happy or “playful” form adopted by the language in Buenos Aires.
At the beginning of the 20th century, as a word for the Buenos Aires lunfardo it appeared in various tango lyrics that, given the success of this musical genre, transcended the country’s borders and reached the entire continent. When used in masculine it referred to the man who, due to his financial ease, could support a lover; feminine, on the other hand, described a woman whose life had become very comfortable thanks to the help of a man.
Unfortunately, the sexism present in these meanings is not uncommon in our language, especially in the versions that were spoken decades and centuries ago. Both examples, by the way, can be seen in the tango entitled «Hand to hand«, Published in 1923. Its arrival in Latin America led to the meanings mentioned above, among others, and today the Internet merges them as a result of communication between people from all over the world.