This is a collection of some of the slang, colloquialisms, and phrases that I have learned during my time in Brazil. You may notice that I have a particular affinity for dirty words, curse words, words relating to sex, words relating to jiu jitsu, and slang from within the LGBT community.
Additionally, I should add that these words were primarily learned in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Given that the slang is often context-specific, both socially and geographically, just keep in mind that some of these words might be entirely unknown or misunderstood outside of their contexts. …But that’s what’s fun about language isn’t it? :)
- bad, bad trip – [adjective] Bad, unenjoyable, annoying, terrible.
This is an English word that has been “portuguesized.” They pronounce it like the word “badge.” Not kidding. It’s hilarious to me. It’s used like “A balada naquela noite foi uma bad, broder..” which translates to “Dude, that party the other night sucked..” See? Hilarious right?
- bater bronha – [verb] to masturbate, to beat off, to jerk off
Yup, only used for men though.
- bater siririca – [verb] to masturbate
Just for women!
- a bicha – [noun] fag, queen, homo (male), fairy
Literally, a “bicha” is a worm. This is an offensive term used to describe a gay man, usually one that is effeminate or queen-y. However, like many pejorative words, it has been reclaimed by the gays, and you might hear one gay guy calling another gay guy “bicha” in a teasing, coy, or simply catty way, without any intention of actually offending anyone. I think the best English equivalent is probably something along the lines of “queen” or “fairy.” I’m also told that sometimes people use it to call each other “pansies” or “wusses.”
- a biba – [noun] fag, queen, homo (male), fairy
A slighter cuter term that means the same as “bicha.” It has less of an offensive connotation, as I believe it is less known outside of the gay community.
- bora – [interjection] Come on! Go!
A shortened version of the word “embora,” which is one of those funny words that means everything. “Embora” can mean despite, even though, outside (of someone’s possession, for example), to leave, to split, to get out of someplace, etc.
- a/o capeta – [noun] the devil
A term used for someone evil or very mean. For example, someone you think is a real bitch, or an ex-girlfriend who cheated on you and broke your heart. Yep, she’s the devil. Seems like you can use it for men and women both, but I learned it in the context of describing women.
- cara de pau – [adjective] shameless
Literally, someone with a “face made of wood.” This word comes in handy all the time. For example, when I arrived 45 minutes late to aerial class once, my instructor said to me with a grin, “Você tá muito cara de pau hein?” (“You’re totally shameless, eh?”). Cariocas use this phrase aaaallll the time, usually in funny contexts.
- careta 1.) – [adjective] square, straight-laced, conventional, boring
Basically someone lame, haha. You might tease your friend for being “careta” if they tell you they want go leave a party early. Or, my friends might tease me for being “careta” since I rarely if ever drink alcohol when we go out! You can also call someone a “square” in Portuguese, literally “quadrado.”
- o careta 2.) – [noun] a funny face
For example, when you stick your tongue out in a picture, you are making a “careta.” But you could make a “careta” at a kid, or make one behind someone’s back.
- o/a craque – [noun] the shit, the best, the expert
Surprisingly, this has no relation to the word “crack” (or does it?). For example, “Aquelas meninas são as craques de futbol…” (Those girls are the shit at soccer…!).
- danada – [noun] A “sick” person (as in capable of doing something amazing), a badass, someone who is crazy good.
However, I’m also told this can also mean something negative, like an actual crazy/sick person.. But I’ve never heard anyone use it in that way before.
- dar em cima – [verb] to flirt (but very directly), to hit on
This is the kind of flirting where you ain’t playin’ around. You’re crushing on someone, you’re feeling it in your pants, and you want them to know. May include kissing someone with or without asking, putting your arm around them with or without asking, telling them how beautiful they are or how much you want to take them home and do the horizontal mambo. Way more direct and, at times, aggressive, than “flertar” and “dar mole.”
- dar mole – [verb] to flirt (but more physically close)
This is the kind of flirting that is definitely not from a distance. It happens when two people are next to each other or facing one another. This kind of flirting might include arm touching, shoulders brushing, and leaning in… More than “flertar,” less than “dar em cima.”
- dar uns pegas – [verb] to make out
Again, this comes from the verb “pegar” which means both “to get” (a thing) and “to get with” (a person). This literally translates to “to give some getting-withs”… Which, now that I translate it, makes almost no sense in English.. But it KIND OF DOES. Amirite?
- De pé? – [expression] Are we still on?
This is something you would say to confirm with a friend that you guys are still going to grab dinner at that restaurant. “De pé” literally means “on foot.”
- a doirera – [noun] madness, craziness, bullshit
Another word “doideira” means the same thing.
- o esparadrapo – [noun] athletic tape
The only reason this word even comes up is because of Jiu Jitsu (everyone eventually has to start taping their fingers after they train with a gi for long enough, that shit hurts!). When a fellow training partner first said this word I made him say it like 5 times before I was sure I could remember it.
- estufado, -a – [adjective] stuffed (as in, you ate too much)
This isn’t exactly slang, but it’s not exactly a word you’ll find in the dictionary either. It comes from the verb “estufar” which can mean either a) to stew or heat, to put in a greenhouse, or b) to give someone a lot of food, as in, to stuff them full of food. (Kind of like the way we stuff chickens.. or the way the witch stuffed Hansel and Gretel…right, anyways..) Generally the term you’ll hear people use is “satisfeito” (meaning “satisfied”) which is a polite way of saying you’re full, and thank you Chef for providing such a wonderful meal. I have sometimes heard people say “cheio” which literally means “full” (as in, glass half full), BUT I’ve also been told that this isn’t entirely polite. So stick with “satisfeito” or “estufado.”
- a fancha – [noun] dyke, homo (female), lesbian
I love this word. It’s the Brazilian Portuguese equivalent of “dyke” but without the connotation of masculinity. I’ve been told that a lot of people who aren’t gay or are not familiar with the gay community don’t know this word… Even better! It’s the perfect word to use to talk about whether or not someone sets off your gaydar, without straight people around you knowing what you’re talking about. I have yet to hear of a word like this in English. (Oh, and the augmentative form of this word is fanchona, which one might translate as “a big dyke”.)
- flertar – [verb] to flirt
Given that there are various ways to flirt, Brazilians have explained to me that this term refers more to the kind of flirting that is usually done from afar — smiles, glances, bedroom eyes, and smoldering looks. This kind of flirting is relatively light. More aggressive ways of flirting are “dar mole” and “dar em cima.”
- o forninho – [noun] the first woman that a girl sleeps with
In other words, the first woman who pops a girl’s lesbian cherry. This word is the diminutive of the word “forno” which literally means “oven.” I’m not exactly sure where the logic is in that… I just accept it.
- gamar – [verb] to fall in love with
The context in which I learned this was the following: in response to a youtube video of a hot Brazilian singer, a (presumably male, from the picture) commented “gamei.” After conferring with a Brazilian friend, I would translate this as “I’m in love” though, literally it would be more like “I fell in love with her.”
- o girino – [noun] baby dyke
A “girino” is literally a tadpole. “Sapatão,” which literally means “big shoe” but colloquially means “dyke,” is often shortened to just “sapa.” Since a “sapo” is a frog, lesbians (or maybe just the gays in general?) decided to call baby dykes tadpoles, since they’re not yet frogs, haha. Gay slang ftw.
- jejum – [noun] waking up and not eating anything
Yep, they have a word for it. It’s kind of like fasting, but it seems to be particular to the the time after you wake up in the morning. It’s also used often in a religious context (I didn’t even know this was a religious ritual, but there you go). It’s like what I do on weekend mornings, when I’m so lazy I can’t get myself out of bed for 3 hours, even though I’m awake, and I lay there in a pile of my own hunger, ignoring the pain and the sounds coming from my stomach because damn it feels good to be laying down in my bed.
- meu bem – [noun] sweetheart, sweetie
This is a phrase that couples might use to call one another. It appears to have been primarily popular in the 60s-80s, and is rarely used now. Also, it carries the same somewhat sickening connotation that “sweetheart” carries in English. It literally translates to “my good” or perhaps “my sweet”.
- a peça – [noun] a piece of work, a hilarious or peculiar person
A “peça” is literally a piece, as in a theater piece, or a play. It’s pretty much the exact same thing as when we call someone a “piece of work” in English.
- a/o peguete – [noun] someone you’re seeing/fucking, your “date” for the night
This literally translates to “the one you’re getting with” (from the verb “pegar” which means “to get with” a person). It usually has the connotation of a non-relationship, meaning that it’s usually someone you’re just seeing or fucking for the time-being, and it’s not serious.
- o petisco – [noun] a snack
Another word for this is “comidinha,” which literally means “little food.” The verb is “petiscar.”
- o/a pirralho, -a – [noun] pipsqueak
I love this word in any language. This can also refer to people younger than you, but who are still adults. For example, this hilarious GIF from the Tumblr called “Quando Você Mora no Rio” (When You Live in Rio). It translates to “When you arrive at Pista 3 (a famous alternative music party that actually no longer happens) and all you see are ‘pirralhos’ in the line..” and the accompanying gif is of Victoria Beckham decked out walking onto a stage.. seeing the crowd, and then backing back off the stage.
- a popozão – [noun] the big ass belonging to a popozuda
Go Google search this. Hahahahaha.
- a popozuda – [noun] a hot woman with a big ass, a little skanky or trashy
It’s all about the ass here in Latin America isn’t it. At least in Brazil it is. Go Google image search “popozuda” and this word will make complete sense. Kinda of like Kim Kardashian, but even trashier, i.e. in tinier booty shorts. OH OH OH: Coco, as in Ice-T’s wife. Her, exactly.
- estar puto/puta – [verb] to be pissed
This one cracked me up when I first heard it a couple of months ago. “Puta” is Portuguese (and Spanish) for whore, but in Brazilian Portuguese when you say that you “are ‘puta'” it simply means you’re angry. If you’re a man, you would use the masculine form “puto,” and if you’re a woman you would use the feminine form “puta.” As for gender queer folks, I guess you just get to pick! And most likely if you pick the opposite of what someone else thinks you are, they might correct you. Such is the way of a gendered language.
- a racha – [noun] bitch, whore, slit
This literally means vagina crack. No, not like cocaine for your vagina. Like, literally, the crack that is formed by a vagina. I love this word, simply for its power to conjure a mental image and for its ugliness. A “racha,” in non-slang conversations, is just a crack, a fissure, or a crevice. But when used in slang, it refers to the vagina, and is a pejorative term used for women. As far as I know, it’s used particularly within the LGBT community by queens and various other kinds of more-effeminate gay men. Basically, they callin’ you a ho.
- sacanagem – [noun] bullshit
Literally means “trickery” or “dirty trick,” but that doesn’t do the word justice! Even though this is technically a curse word, I hear it all the time here in Rio. Everyone (and their mother) uses it — I’m not kidding. A Brazilian friend also told me that the original meaning is “kinky sex” or an “orgy.” Ha!
- o/a safado, -a – [noun] asshole, bastard, dick
Somehow this word came to mean just someone who is a general asshole, though the dictionary defines it literally as a person who is lewd.
- sarado, -a – [adjective] hunky, built
In terms of body type. Not to be confused with “safado” hahaha…
- sem noção – [adjective] clueless
I think there must be some other English word that is a good translation for this, but I can’t think of any right now. This can apply in various situations. For example, one of my landlords once called one of our houseguests “sem noção” because she would sometimes sit at the kitchen table for hours taking up the whole table with her books and computer and such, forgetting that other people would need to sit there to eat. She wasn’t trying to be rude, she was just a little spacey and would forget. “Sem noção” literally means “without any idea” or “without any awareness.”
- show, show de bola – [adjective] awesome, spectacular
This is a hilarious expression to me, because it’s an English word, but it doesn’t at all mean what English-speakers would think it means. Are Brazilians the only ones who do this? Are they the only ones that take words from other languages and make them mean a whole different thing? …Actually I think this happens in Thai too.. Anyway, I digress. This word is used whenever someone thinks something is awesome. For example, your friend wins a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match: that was “show de bola!” (‘bola’ means ball, as in a ball game). Or you cook an awesome meal, so your cool aunt says “show!” (awesome!). The logic goes something like this: Whatever awesome thing someone did was so awesome that it was like a “show.” And if it was super awesome, then it was like watching a ball game (i.e. a soccer game), because soccer games are like the best ever. Hilarious to me.
- tipo, tipo assim – interjection. “Like…” “It was like..”
Of course Brazilians have a “like.” I’d like to see a language that doesn’t. Latin doesn’t count.
- a vaca – [noun] bitch, asshole (for a woman)
Why, yes, Spanish-speakers, this is indeed also the word for “cow.”
- vadia – [noun] slut, whore
Unlike the masculine version of this word, in the feminine form, this word just means slut. Literally the word still means someone who is a good-for-nothing, but when applied to a woman the inference is that she’s, er, letting it all out… being a “loose” woman. You know what I mean. Again, not really used outside of this meaning, not even in a friendly/teasing way, the way that “viado” is. (Unless, as my friend pointed out, you’re in bed with a woman who likes to be called a whore. Ahem.)
- vadio – [noun] good-for-nothing, bum
This is only to be used to call men. The feminine version of this word means something totally different. Also, somewhere in between the switching of a couple of letters with the word “viado,” this word somehow crossed the line and isn’t used by anyone in a friendly way. Actually, it’s not commonly used at all. You probably aren’t likely to hear anyone use it. They are much more likely to use “vagabundo” which means the same thing.
- viadagem – [noun] faggyness, sissiness, wussiness
Hilarious, I know. So, as with the 3 ways that the word “viado” can be used, the same applies to “viadagem” which is just the noun that describe the act of being a “viado.” You can say, for example, “Deixa de viadagem, porra!” Which translates to “Stop being such a little girl, shiiiit.” (You can translate that various ways.) Hilarious to me.
- viado, -a – [noun] fag, homo, sissy, wuss, girlyboy
This word ranges in its meaning. I would say there are 3 ways in which it is most popularly used: 1.) To be used to call someone a fag or a homo, literally, in an offensive way. 2.) To be used to call someone a sissy, a pussy, a wuss, a girlyboy, etc. but without trying to say they are actually gay. This is not exactly offensive. 3.) To be used in a totally “harmless” way with your friends, i.e. a name you might call them in a teasing but friendly way. And even just as a term of endearment (I know, weird). In the States, this would be both offensive and politically incorrect… But this is Brazil, where political correctness pretty much doesn’t exist, so it’s totally acceptable. The diminutive is “viadinho” (little fag), which can also be used either offensively or in a friendly way.