My favourite (and sometimes intranslatable) Brazilian expressions

This is a list of the Brazilian words and expression I personally love and that you will most probably not learn at that Portuguese for Foreigners course:

– Chato: this word can mean anything from boring to unpleasant or fussy. You can use it in almost all unpleasant situations. Nossa, que cara chato! Qué filme chato.

– Sem graça: this expression is used to describe anything that is “boring” or lifeless. It also means awkward. If someone says something embarrassing, you can say everyone was “sem graça” (that awkward, uncomfortable feeling or silence).

– Gostosa/o: be careful with this one as it has different meanings in different regions. In the south, it can mean cute, chubby, or anything that is considered “tasty” (a baby, a pet, even an adult). In the rest of Brazil, it usually means sexy or sexually attractive. Funnily enough, all Brazilian women like to be called or consider themselves gostosas and they get offended when you say it can be offensive to women of your native country. They insist it can be used for anything, but I always tell men never to call their friend´s teenage daughter gostosa!

É mesmo?: the same as saying “really?”

Tá falando sério?: the same as saying, “are you serious?”

Descascar um abacaxi: this expression is used to describe any type of problem that no one wants to solve, and that is sometimes left for you to solve. It´s that unwanted burden or an almost unsolvable problem (the abacaxi, or pineapple) that has to be dealt with.

Chupa essa manga!: this expression is used to describe something that you have to face or accept. It´s usually used with unexpected and unpleasant gossip or news especially when you thought otherwise, or when you are forced to “engulir” something (accept it). The person who says it is usually pleased to see you in this situation and it has a vengeful tone.

Botar o pé na jaca: used when you make a mistake.

Cai fora!: same as “get out”, “get lost”.

Tou nem aí: (eu não estou nem aí): the same as, “I don´t care”.

E daí?: the same as “so what?”

Vamos embora (or simply, “bora” in some parts of Brazil): similar to “let´s go” or “let´s leave”.

Tou nessa (“eu estou nessa”): similar to “include me in”. My personal favourite is the opposite: Tó/tou fora! (count me out).

Nossa (from Nossa Senhora, or Our Lady): similar to “Jeez” (Jesus) as an expression of frustration or shock.

Putz (usually accompanied with head scratching): used to express disbelief (in a bad situation). Putz, ele morreu?

Pifou: used to describe something that has broken. Minha impressora pifou.

Doida/o: same as crazy or insane. In SP, louco (the translation to mad or insane you find in the dictionary) usually means high on drugs. “Ele estava muito louco” is very different to “Ele é doido”.


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