20 Delightful Expressions Brazilians Use Every Day

A crab | © Rushen/Flickr
A crab | © Rushen/Flickr
Photo of Sarah Brown
14 December 2016

Take a walk in the streets of Brazil and you’ll start hearing wonderfully quirky expressions that make you look twice to make sure you truly understood what you just heard. From peeling pineapples to traveling in mayonnaise, Portuguese is filled with some head-scratching yet charming sayings that are simply delightful.

To take the little horse from the rain

When Brazilians give up on an idea or a hope, they will tirar o cavalinho da chuva (take the little horse from the rain). Imagine your house is a mess and you sit at home all day waiting for your partner to come home to clean it for you. They will arrive and say, ‘if you are waiting for me to clean the house, you can tirar o cavalinho da chuva.’

Little pony | public domain pictures

To stick a foot

When Brazilians want to leave a situation, a party, an event, or something along those lines, they will meter o pé (stick the foot) – in other words, they will go.

To lower the ball

When someone is talking about how beautiful they are, how intelligent they are, how amazingly cool they are, just how much better than everyone else they are, Brazilian will say ‘abaixa a bola’ (lower the ball), as in, ‘you’re not all that.’ In other words, to tell someone to come down a peg or two.

Each monkey on their branch

When Brazilians want to say, ‘you take care of your business and I’ll take care of mine’, they will say cada macaco na seu galho (each monkey on their branch). It’s the same as to say everyone should worry about their lives and concerns, without noseing into others.

Monkey on a branch | public domain/pexels

You are with the knife and the cheese in your hand

When a Brazilian will do something and he has everything to be successful in whatever it is he will do, he will only lose if he does something wrong, so voce está com a faca e o queijo na mão (you’re with the knife and the cheese in your hand). In other words, everything is in your favor, it all just depends on you.

To hold the candle

When a Brazilian goes out with a friend and their partner, and this couple spend the whole night kissing and making out, this Brazilian is segurando vela (holding the candle). In other words, they are the third or spare wheel.

To fill a sausage

When someone is talking about a particular subject but is filling the conversation with details and ideas that don’t have the slightest importance, he is enchendo linguiça (he’s filling the sausage).

Sausages | © Pedro Antunes/Flickr

To be bolado

When a Brazilian is extremely annoyed about something, he is esta bolado, (is bolado – this word is Portuguese slang and doesn’t translate well into English) or basically, really pissed off.

To travel in mayonnaise

When someone says something daft or that doesn’t make sense, or when someone’s mind is clearly drifting into some far away day-dream, a Brazilian will say, ‘hey, wake up, you are viajando na maionese.’ (you’re traveling in mayonnaise).

To drown the goose – or – to wet the biscuit

When a Brazilian man has sex, he can afogar o ganso (drown the goose) or he can molhar o biscoito (wet the biscuit).

Goose | public domain pictures

To have a wood face

When someone acts shamelessly, Brazilians will say that person ter cara de pau (has a face of wood).

To peel a pineapple

When Brazilians have to cope with a tricky or complex issue, they descascar o abacaxi (they peel the pineapple). Almost everyone has faced this before: ‘Everyone left work early, leaving me to peel the pineapple!’ or in other words, to solve the problem.

To search for horns on the horse’s head

When someone looks for problems where there are none and keeps poking around looking for any whiff of an issue, they are procurando chifre na cabeça de cavalo (searching for horns on the horse’s head).

A full ball

After a game of football, it’s common to ask, ‘who was the bola cheia and who was the bola murcha?’ (see below). When a football player plays superbly well, he is the bola cheia (the full ball).

A full ball | pexels

A deflated ball

When a football player plays a game poorly, he was bola murcha (like a deflated ball).

To pull your balls

When someone kisses ass or sucks up to someone else, he puxa o saco (he pulls your balls). Imagine a colleague who never works hard gets a promotion, the office gossip may sound a little like this: ‘he only got the promotion because he puxa o saco of the manager.’

A mouth of crab

When someone keeps boca de siri (a mouth of crab), they keep an important secret. Like, ‘everyone must keep boca de siri about this surprise party for my mum!’

A crab | © Rushen/Flickr

To kick the bucket

When someone chuta o balde (kicks the bucket), they give up all together, they no longer care about that situation, person or moment. Imagine someone taking a test in school but they don’t care if they fail or pass, they chuta o balde.

To throw in the green

When someone joga verde (throws in the green), they hint about something they are sure is true to get the other person to admit the truth.

To pick little orange coconuts

If you hear someone tell you to go and catar coquinho, that person is in fact telling you to get lost in an insulting way.

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