Forget everything you know about Portuguese, it’s time to “burn the eyelashes”. Here are some colourful everyday Portuguese phrases 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 and Brazilian 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.
Let’s take a look at some everyday funny Portuguese expressions.
Here we go!
1. Go with the pigs
Translation: Ir com os porcos
Meaning: To pass away, die
2. Flea behind the ear
Translation: Pulga atrás da orelha
Meaning: To look/feel suspicious
3. Burn the eyelashes
Translation: Queimar as pestanas
Meaning: To read a lot
4. Silly cockroach
Translation: Barata tonta
Meaning: To be clumsy, silly, scared, disoriented
5. Wake up with the feet outside
Translation: Acordar com os pés de fora
Meaning: Wake up in a bad mood, to be grumpy
6. Be with the olive oils
Translation: Estar com os azeites
Meaning: To be in a bad mood, irritated, angry
7. Many years turning chickens
Translation: Muitos anos a virar frangos
Meaning: Someone who has a lot of experience
8. Have little monkeys in the head
Translation: Macaquinhos na cabeça
Meaning: To have reason to be suspicious or distrust
9. Go comb monkeys!
Translation: Vai pentear macacos!
Meaning: To tell someone to get lost, or drop dead.
10. Swallow frogs
Translation: Engolir sapos
Meaning: To do something you don’t want to do
11. Take the horse from the rain
Translation: Tirar o cavalinho da chuva
Meaning: Don’t hold your breath! Don’t count on it!
12. Breaking all the dishes
Translation: Partir a loiça toda
Meaning: To be amazing, used when someone has exceeded expectations
13. Go bother Camões
Translation: Chatear camões
Meaning: Go bother someone else, bugger off
14. Water in the beard
Translation: Água pela barba
Meaning: Something that requires a lot of work
15. A lot of cans
Translation: Ter muita lata
Meaning: To have a lot of nerve
16. Bread bread, cheese cheese
Translation: Pão pão queijo queijo
Meaning: It is what it is, to call a spade a spade
17. Under the shade of a Banana Tree
Translation: À sombra da bananeira
Meaning: No worries
18. A head of dry garlic
Translation: Cabeça d’Alho Chocho
Meaning: To de distracted
19. I’m in the inks
Translation: Estou-me nas tintas
Meaning: I don’t give a damn.
20. You’re here to eat!
Translation: Estás aqui estás a comer!
Meaning: If you don’t behave, I’ll slap you
21. You’re letting water in
Translation: Estás a meter água
Meaning: To make a fool of yourself
22. Monkeys are biting me!
Translation: Macacos me mordam!
Meaning: To be intrigued or surprised
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
24. To speak by the elbows
Translation: Falar pelos cotovelos
Meaning: To speak too much, talk nineteen to the dozen
25. John without arms
Translation: João sem braço
Meaning: To play dumb
Ready to improve your Portuguese? Visit my handy language resource guide.
Plus, if you want to know how the experts learn languages, I asked 11 top polyglots to share their language learning secrets. Find out how they start learning a new language, overcome plateaus, and maintain multiple languages.
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.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
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