Home Language HacksExpressions & Idioms 25 Hilarious Portuguese Expressions That Make No Sense

25 Hilarious Portuguese Expressions That Make No Sense

by Michele
6 comments
Hilarious Portuguese Phrases
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Forget everything you know about Portuguese, it’s time to “burn the eyelashes”. Here are some colourful everyday Portuguese idioms and expressions used in Portugal and Brazil.

The Portuguese phrases I’ve included in this phrasebook is of the European usage which differs from the Brazilian in sounds and pronunciation. Even though both European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese speakers will slightly understand each other if they do communicate.

Needless to say, if you know a Romance language, it will be easier for you to learn Portuguese. However, if you who know a little Spanish don’t make the mistake of assuming that Portuguese is close enough that it doesn’t need t be studied separately. While you might be able to figure out the meaning of some signage, items on a menu, etc., understanding of verbal communication will be very low to nothing. Words such as “gente” (people) are pronounced so differently in either variant of Portuguese, that you would hardly recognise them. Also, some personal names such as “Jorge Ramos,” for example, will be pronounced quite differently as well.

If you speak Spanish, watch for a lot of new vowels, a huge number of contractions (comparable to del and al) and irregular plurals. For the non-fluent, some pronunciation differences can be easily missed, such as año (year) becoming ano. If you speak French well, you may find Portuguese pronunciation to be fairly easy, though much of the vocabulary will have changed substantially.


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Let’s take a look at some every day funny Portuguese expressions.

Here we go!

1. Go with the pigs

Translation: Ir com os porcos
Meaning: To pass away, die

Portuguese idioms - Ir com os porcos

2. Flea behind the ear

Translation: Pulga atrás da orelha
Meaning: To look/feel suspicious

Portuguese idioms - Pulga atras da orelha

3. Burn the eyelashes

Translation: Queimar as pestanas
Meaning: To read a lot

Portuguese idioms - Queimar as pestanas

4. Silly cockroach

Translation: Barata tonta
Meaning: To be clumsy, silly, scared, disoriented

Portuguese idioms - Barata tonta

5. Wake up with the feet outside

Translation: Acordar com os pés de fora
Meaning: Wake up in a bad mood, to be grumpy

Portuguese idioms - Acordar com os pes de fora

6. Be with the olive oils

Translation: Estar com os azeites
Meaning: To be in a bad mood, irritated, angry

Portuguese idioms - Estar com os azeites

7. Many years turning chickens

Translation: Muitos anos a virar frangos
Meaning: Someone who has a lot of experience

Portuguese idioms - Muitos anos a virar frangos

8. Have little monkeys in the head

Translation: Macaquinhos na cabeça
Meaning: To have reason to be suspicious or distrust

Portuguese idioms - Macaquinhos na cabeca

9. Go comb monkeys!

Translation: Vai pentear macacos!
Meaning: To tell someone to get lost, or drop dead.

Portuguese idioms - Vai pentear macacos

10. Swallow frogs

Translation: Engolir sapos
Meaning: To do something you don’t want to do

Portuguese idioms - Engolir sapos

11. Take the horse from the rain

Translation: Tirar o cavalinho da chuva
Meaning: Don’t hold your breath! Don’t count on it!

Portuguese idioms - Tirar o cavalinho da chuva

12. Breaking all the dishes

Translation: Partir a loiça toda
Meaning: To be amazing, used when someone has exceeded expectations

Portuguese idioms - Partir a loica toda

13. Go bother Camões

Translation: Chatear camões
Meaning: Go bother someone else, bugger off

Portuguese idioms - Chatear camoes

14. Water in the beard

Translation: Água pela barba
Meaning: Something that requires a lot of work

Portuguese idioms - agua pela barba

15. A lot of cans

Translation: Ter muita lata
Meaning: To have a lot of nerve

Portuguese idioms - Ter muita lata

16. Bread bread, cheese cheese

Translation: Pão pão queijo queijo
Meaning: It is what it is, to call a spade a spade

Portuguese idioms - Pao pao queijo queijo

17. Under the shade of a Banana Tree

Translation: À sombra da bananeira
Meaning: No worries

Portuguese idioms - A sombra da bananeira

18. A head of dry garlic

Translation: Cabeça d’Alho Chocho
Meaning: To de distracted

Portuguese idioms - Cabeca d'Alho Chocho

19. I’m in the inks

Translation: Estou-me nas tintas
Meaning: I don’t give a damn.

Portuguese idioms - Estou me nas tintas

20. You’re here to eat!

Translation: Estás aqui estás a comer!
Meaning: If you don’t behave, I’ll slap you

Portuguese idioms - Estas aqui estas a comer

21. You’re letting water in

Translation: Estás a meter água
Meaning: To make a fool of yourself

Portuguese idioms - Estas a meter agua

22. Monkeys are biting me!

Translation: Macacos me mordam!
Meaning: To be intrigued or surprised

Portuguese idioms - Macacos me mordam

23. God gives nuts to those who don’t have teeth

Translation: Dá Deus nozes a quem não tem dentes
Meaning: What a waste! Used when an opportunity isn’t seized

Portuguese idioms - Da Deus-nozes a quem nao tem dentes

24. To speak by the elbows

Translation: Falar pelos cotovelos
Meaning: To speak too much, talk nineteen to the dozen

Portuguese idioms - Falar pelos cotovelos

25. John without arms

Translation: João sem braço
Meaning: To play dumb

Portuguese idioms - Joao sem braco

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Over to you!

Which of these Portuguese expressions is your favourite? Do you know any other funny Portuguese expressions?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

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6 comments

larry byrne September 3, 2021 - 23:16

I have travelled to Brazil 10 times and taken lessons twice in Salvador. The variations in accents are tremendous depending where you travel in the country. I think the accent in Rio is the closest to European pronunciation. Do you agree?

Reply
Beatriz March 5, 2018 - 01:04

there is another one:
– Estás a meter a pata na poça.
Meaning: you are screwing up
Translation : you’re putting the paw in the puddle

Reply
Michele March 7, 2018 - 14:02

Wonderful! thanks Beatriz 🙂

Reply
Andrea Matias December 17, 2017 - 23:05

Being Portuguese I can vouch that these expression do exist. Seeing it translated is hilarious, so funny

Reply
Michele December 18, 2017 - 00:11

Thanks Andrea, glad you enjoyed reading them from the perspective of an Anglophone 🙂 I find knowing the literal translation helps me to remember as it’s just so funny!

Reply
Sofia December 6, 2016 - 15:36

Nice work

Reply

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