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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
When a Brazilian man has sex, he can afogar o ganso (drown the goose) or he can molhar o biscoito (wet the biscuit).
When someone acts shamelessly, Brazilians will say that person ter cara de pau (has a face of wood).
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.
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).
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).
When a football player plays a game poorly, he was bola murcha (like a deflated ball).
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.’
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!’
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.
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.
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.