Get to Know Portuguese Slang
Have you ever noticed how the formal language we learn in school can be different from the way we talk with our friends? Instead of saying, “Hi, nice to meet you”, we may greet a friend by saying, “Hey, whatsup?”. Even though slang gets a bad rep, it’s something most of us can’t avoid.
Portuguese is no different. There’s the formal side and the informal (aka slang) side. If you want to sound like a native speaker, it’s a good idea to learn how to speak informally, like most Portuguese do.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common Portuguese slang that you can add to your vocabulary (remember, use them wisely).
These greetings are good to know when you meet up with your friends or close family members.
E aí! – Hey!
Opa! – Hi!
Fala, cara! – Hey, dude!
Qual é? – What’s up?
Tudo joia? – How’s going?
O que você conta? – What’s new with you?
Estou! – Meaning “I am”, that’s how Portuguese people answer the phone. Brazilians say Alô.
It’s normal to use many adjectives to describe the characteristics of different people, but did you know that Portuguese has several slang to do so? Here are some examples:
Cara / Mano / Truta – a man
Mina – a woman
Coroa – an old person
Abiscoitado – reckless person
Pancada na mola – crazy person
Pentelho seco de velha – worthless person
Bizonho – a sad or quiet person
Abestado – silly person
Zé ruela – stupid person
Pé-de-boi – hard-working person
Sangue bom / Gente fina – cool person
Maleva – bad person, thief
Gato / Gata – a beautiful person
Mala – an arrogant person
Alcaguete – a snitch
Here are some words you will not learn in a language school, even though they are commonly used among Portuguese-speaking people:
Não aguentar nas canetas / Estar só o pó – to be very tired
Bater as botas / Ir dessa para a melhor / Esticar o pernil / Dar o peido mestre / Bater a caçoleta / Levar o farelo – to die
Ter lata / Ter cara de pau – to have the guts to do something
Descalçar essa bota / Descascar esse abacaxi / Resolver esse pepino / Resolver essa treta – to deal with a difficult situation
Abufelar – to get angry
Vigiar bem – to pay attention
Embretar-se – to get into trouble
Estar perrengue – to be sick
Trocar ideia – to talk
Queimar o filme – to gossip, talk badly about someone
Pagar pau – to admire someone
Manjar – know, understand
Pagar mico – embarrassed
Every language has its own expressions and idioms, and Portuguese is no exception:
Fixe / Giro / Da hora / Bacana / Maneiro / Massa – cool
Malta / Galera / Turma – a group of friends
Bué / Pra caramba – very much, a lot
Sandes / Sanduba – sandwich
Piropo / Xaveco – a flirt
Do piorio – awful
Campo santo – cemetery
Olada – opportunity
Égua de largura – good luck
Bitelo – very big, huge
Cacunda – a person’s back
Zueira – joke
Foi mal – I’m sorry
Falou! / Beleza! – OK
Valeu! – Thanks!
Babado – gossip
Barraco – confusion
Busão – bus
Nossa! / Oloco! / Caraca! – expressions of surprise
Deixa quieto / Esquece – never mind
Ó do borogodó – something unpleasant or difficult
Trampo – job
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Ivy do Carmo is a Brazilian content writer and translator whose passion has always been learning and teaching the English language.