I'm looking for a word equivalent to the Spanish word antro. Its definitions are "building frequented by delinquents and people of bad reputation" and "dirty dwelling of bad appearance".

Maybe the word has other meanings but those are the ones I'm looking for.

I found "joint" in a dictionary; is this word a good fit? I think antro can sort of mean "joint", but antros are usually joints of people of questionable reputation (the word has a derogatory connotation), plus the word is not used only for bars or dancing venues, but also houses and any other building.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 16:37

13 Answers 13


We have the word in Central America also and it could probably be translated best as a:


A shabby or sleazy bar or similar establishment.

-Oxford Dictionary online

Characteristics of a dive bar include:

  • smells faintly of stale beer with a side of puke and/or urine -possible sawdust on floor
  • half of the patrons wear the "10,000 miles of bad road" face
  • fights break out frequently
  • no stall doors in men's room
  • pay phone taken out due to drug dealing problems
  • taps have not been cleaned, ever


Although when I was living in the US, we just called them "dives". In fact, I can remember people saying

"What a dive!"

just to express repulsion when entering any such a place, bar or otherwise. A less formal establishment could be referred to as a

low-life hangout

a low-life is a bottom dwelling delinquent, and a hangout is a place for "friends" to congregate.


When we look up antro for a translation, we find:

seedy bar, seedy club, seedy joint (informal), or dive (informal)

-Oxford Spanish Dictionary

  • 1
    In the meantime, I am trying to find a suitable quote from Charles Bukowski. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 18:01
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    "A dive" can be other things besides a bar (i.e. restaurant, etc), mostly by analogy. But almost always a place of public acommodation (not a house).
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:08
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    @Yorik Where I live (Guatemala), an antro is a low-life bar. In Argentina (the OPs home) it may also be a house, which is why I also included "low-life hangout". Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:11
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    "Dive" alone is the best approximation of "antro". Dive bar is too specific. Also, I frequently hear "dive" used with reference to public and private locations.
    – Jace
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 22:26
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    @Cascabel, I've not heard dive used in that manner. "Hole in the wall" is still used as a somewhat affectionate appellation for a location that would be considered desirable for certain qualities, like specialty foods, atmosphere, etc., but also understood to not be fancy or even especially neat and tidy by any standard. Every use of "dive" I've heard was pejorative only.
    – Jace
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 0:07

Seedy is an adjective with that meaning. You can have a seedy bar, a seedy hotel, or a seedy neighbourhood, for example.


  1. abounding in seed.
  2. containing many seeds…
  3. … bearing seeds.
  4. poorly kept; run-down; shabby
  5. shabbily dressed; unkempt
  6. physically run-down; under the weather
  7. somewhat disreputable; degraded

I would say that it also has a connotation of being crime-ridden or unsafe.


At first I was thinking dive bar, but maybe flop house would work for you:

flop house
normally it is an apartment where many drug abusers stay to sleep and abuse drugs. Some of these people pay rent, while others are unemployed and do nothing with their lives except party and abuse drugs.
from UrbanDictionary.com

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    'flop house' is accurate for a dwelling but a bit old fashioned. The current synonym is 'crack house' but of course implies specifically that drugs are being done there, which is not necessarily what the OP wants.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:12
  • @Mitch, "crack house" also specifies the drug, no? Whereas "flop house" might also be heroin or something. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 13:47
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    @MissMonicaE Yes, 'crack house' is a little too specific. But if I found someone doing heroin at a crack house I wouldn't complain too ... um .. much ... clears throat. But flop house also might be too specific as primarily a squalid place to hang out or sleep temporarily where incidentally drugs may be done.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:43
  • The meaning of "flop house" has changed recently. Compare what you found in the Urban Dictionary to what Merriam Webster says: "a cheap rooming house or hotel." Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 18:44
  • @MissMonicaE - The way I have heard "crack house" used in urban neighborhoods, no one was interested in nitpicking about exactly which drugs were being abused/sold at the property. They were just anxious to get the abusers and dealers out of their neighborhood. For example, there was a crack house across the street from my mother's house at one point in the 80's. You can believe that she and her neighbors worked very hard to get that problem solved. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 18:47

A "dirty dwelling of bad appearance" is perfectly described by the word

hovel : A small squalid or simply constructed dwelling.


  • This is a great translation for the second definition of antro.
    – Jace
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 0:12

This might do it. It can be used to describe anyplace run-down, shabby, etc. You can pluralize to slums to denote an area or neighborhood.


sləm/ noun 1. a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people. synonyms: hovel, rathole; More verbinformal 1. spend time at a lower social level than one's own through curiosity or for charitable purposes. "rich tourists slumming among the quaintly dangerous natives"

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    I'm amazed this isn't ranked higher. It's absolutely the first word that sprang into my mind.
    – flith
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 6:47
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    Yeah, me too. I was surprised it wasn't first.
    – M.Mat
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 6:48
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    A 'slum' is for a nebulous living area, including many buildings, of ill-repute. The OP is looking for a single place among many. You don't walk down a nice street and point out one poorly kept house and call it a slum (either the whole street or the one building).
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 15:05
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    @Mitch: Maybe you don't, but I would and have used "slum" to describe a single house or building. "That shabby house on the corner makes the whole neighborhood look like a slum."
    – M.Mat
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:40
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    @M.Mat But even in your example you're applying the word "slum" to the whole neighborhood, not just the one house. You wouldn't say "that house is a slum".
    – jmbpiano
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 3:20

Den of Iniquity

Immoral or grossly unfair behaviour.

‘a den of iniquity’

Somewhat stuffy, but is nearly exactly the desired meaning and does not limit its use to a particular type of place. Some sources assert that it refers to iniquity of a sexual nature, but there are too many counter-examples to this assertion for me to accept.

The entry for "antro" in the Spanish Oxford Living Dictionaries uses the example:

antro de perdición — den of iniquity

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    Somewhat related, I see a lot of english translations of spanish which use the word "den" for "antro." This plain use of "den" is attested in english, but a bare use of the word "den" without proper context would be more likely to mean "casual living room."
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:45
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    Also 'den of iniquity' is rather a formal term, spoken while holding a teacup with your pinkie pointed out
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:09
  • Or a cow-poke on the range drinking coffee ground under the butt of a rifle. Not much in between
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:47
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    Some dens of iniquity have bad appearances, but many of them are actually very ornate, such as casinos, etc. Also, dens of iniquity are generally understood to be businesses, not just a generic venue.
    – Jace
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 0:11
  • @Mitch Depends who you are and where you live. Here in Britain it's probably used more commonly and less formally than in America.
    – Pharap
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 2:40

Crack house

A crack house is a house, apartment, or other type of building; either privately or public owned, sometimes abandoned, where crack cocaine is cooked and sold to users who congregate to buy, use and sometimes exchange sex for the drug. (Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America, edited by Jeffrey Ian Ross)

Usage notes: people live in or visit a crack house. The crack house exists because local authorities and the police have not bothered to shut it down.

When I think of a dive, I think of a bar or pool hall with dirty floors. The dive exists because local zoning permits a commercial establishment to be operated in that location, because it has not completely failed the health department inspection process, and because local authorities have not taken away its liquor license.

In grad school I enjoyed visiting a certain dive with friends. It can be fun in a certain way -- just to enjoy the company of friends in a seedy location. (A woman would probably choose not to visit a dive on her own, for safety.) However, I have never set foot in a crack house.

So, which term you want to use really depends on the context. I used the following search terms in google:

entramos antro nos dio asco

to get a sense of how antro is used (I speak Spanish but didn't know that word before reading your question), and found a bunch of poor reviews of bars, restaurants and pubs, for example

“El peor antro en el que he estado” Creo que es el sitio con el que más asco me he ido después de "comer". Los cubiertos los hemos tenido que limpiar con servilletas antes de usarlos. Dos vasos con pelos, un bocadillo de lomo con un pelo enorme. La comida asquerosa, las patatas fritas parecía que se habían peleado y ahogado en una sartén llena de aceite refrito. Ni chicote salva el lugar. Yo por lo menos no voy a volver a parar aquí si vuelvo a pasar por esta carretera.

If that's how you want to use the word, I'd go for dive (already proposed) or sleazy bar, restaurant or joint. (Joint could be a bar, restaurant or pool hall.)

sleazy (American Heritage): Shabby, dirty, and vulgar; tawdry: "sleazy storefronts with torn industrial carpeting and dirt on the walls"

joint (American Heritage): 6. Slang

a. A cheap or disreputable gathering place

b. A building or dwelling

If the sleazy joint is small and in an urban setting, tucked between other units, it could be called a hole in the wall.


The word tenement used to mean an apartment (BE) or an apartment building (AE). But it has come to mean

(Also called tenement house.) a run-down and often overcrowded apartment house, especially in a poor section of a large city.

But which word you use would depend on the register (level of formality) where the word was being used. Tenement building makes sense for a formal document or a presentation.

Other words, like joint (as you suggested in the comments) or dump would be more appropriate for informal settings.

  • dump refers more to its dirtyness, what I'm looking for also has the "gathering of punks" meaning in it. But +10 is close I guess
    – Pablo
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:52
  • 4
    In the U.S., a tenement is always an apartment or an apartment building. (It's used for both the entire building, and for a single apartment in it.) So it wouldn't apply to a ramshackle bungalow. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 13:44
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    The OP was looking for "a building frequented by delinquents and people of bad reputation". I think tenement suits for a formal register, although the OP seems to be looking for a lower register. I freely admit that I don't know the register of the source word, "antro," but that is why I offered different registers in my answer.
    – rajah9
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:01
  • yes it's true that the definition I found online are those (plus one I didnt re-write which was very different to what I hear it being used here) But the truth is, it can be used even for bars and dancing venues.
    – Pablo
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:33
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    @Pabolo, your first definition had "building" and your second had "dwelling." But if "antro" can be used for bars and dance venues, the "dwelling" does not come into play. A bar or dance venue of low repute could be a "dive," "joint," or "hole in the wall." I think of these three informal terms as more likely to be a bar than a dance venue.
    – rajah9
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:13

Clearly, the term you're looking for:

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

It is also customary to recommend staying cautious.

  • wait... which is the term we're looking for? 'hive'? A bunch of bees?
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:59
  • I confirm this is the exact translation for the word, as we use the exact same word in greek (in fact, I'm pretty sure it's a greek loanword in spanish), and hive is indeed the correct translation (or at least that's the translation I grew up knowing as the direct translation for that word). Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 23:52
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    also, I'm very disappointed hauron beat me to it ... I was going to quote the exact same scene :p Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 23:52

Its called a Trap. Trap house can be a house or club or building that hosts delinquents or druggies. Also make and sell drugs from these traps.

trap house -- ODO

noun US informal
a place where illegal drugs are sold. "the trap house was filled with junkies"

  • 1
    This isn't necessarily wrong, but "trap" has a much tighter context than OP requested, and is, at least in my experience, only used as slang. Googling "trap house" brings up a number of first-page links that purport to explain the term, which suggests that native speakers aren't largely familiar with it. For those reasons, I wouldn't recommend its use to anyone translating from another language, unless they were specifically coming from a slang word and wanted to maintain that quality in translation.
    – gp782
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 2:20
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    I feel the need to emphasise that this is a typically American phrase and may not be as readily understood in other English-speaking countries. If you used it here in Britain you'd probably get a lot of funny looks and a response akin to "a what house?".
    – Pharap
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 2:48
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    To add to @Pharap's comment, that is the same feeling I have as a native AmE speaker. I've never heard this before. Just because it is in the dictionary, doesn't mean it's a thing (yet). It's new slang so maybe it hasn't reached everywhere yet.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:56

Consider the projects, which is a reference to public housing.

The dictionary definition is typically fairly neutral (from Merriam-Webster):

4: a usually public housing development consisting of houses or apartments built and arranged according to a single plan

Urban Dictionary, however, comes much closer to the usual usage:

Usually a group of dirty buildings made for really poor/homeless people to live in. Projects are dangerous,very dirty,filled with gangsters,drug dealers,pimps,hookers and such. The first set of projects made(Starret City,made in 1963) where made for Blacks to live in,but over the years people of all races started to live in projects.

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    This is America-specific. Elsewhere, "projects" are what you do at work. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:37
  • Where I'm from in the US, "the projects" definitely still has racial connotations similar to "the ghetto." Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 13:49
  • In Canada I would say it has no racial connotations. The image of a resident would be of an unemployed unshaven/disheveled overweight smoker in soiled sweatpants. @Lightness makes a fair point that right-Pondians may find it confusing- but note that it is "the projects" not "projects". The definite article is important. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:43

If you're looking to hone in on the "dwelling" aspect you mention in your question, don't overlook the term skid row:

A skid row or skid road is an impoverished area, typically urban, inhabited by the poor, the homeless, or others considered disreputable or forgotten by society. A skid row may be anything from an impoverished urban district to a red-light district to a gathering area for the homeless. In general skid row areas are inhabited or frequented by individuals marginalized by poverty or through drug addiction. Urban areas considered skid rows often feature cheap taverns, dilapidated buildings, and drug dens as well as other features of urban blight. Used figuratively it may indicate the state of a poor person's life.

The term skid road originally referred to the path along which timber workers skidded logs. Its current sense appears to have originated in the Pacific Northwest. Areas identified by this name include Pioneer Square in Seattle; Old Town Chinatown in Portland, Oregon; Downtown Eastside in Vancouver; Skid Row in Los Angeles; the Tenderloin District of San Francisco; and the Bowery of lower Manhattan.

Source: Wikipedia, follow the link for further citations.

To put it in perspective of the other answers, skid row would be a seedy slum containing numerous dives, flop house, crack houses, hovels and tenement. Not necessarily a wretched hive of scum and villainy or even a den of inequity, but definitely an impoverished area, a dirty dwelling occupied most prominently by the poor and homeless.


When it comes to the first meaning of the word “antro”, the suggestion probably would fail to define the situation appropriately, however, when it comes to a dwelling where poor or of rundown appearance live, the following word may fit your needs:

Squalor   Definition by Cambridge Online Dictionary

disapproving (of places) extremely dirty and unpleasant, often because of lack of money.

Example: Many prisons, even today, are overcrowded and squalid places.

Merriam Webster provides following definition for the learners of English Language:

very bad and dirty conditions.

You can simply rule out the chances of finding rich and properly clad individuals in squalors.

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    Squalor is a state of being. The OP is specifically for a squalid location.
    – BenL
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 20:10
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    'squalid' works as an adjective, except maybe it is too extreme.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 15:01

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