As in any other country, people in Brazil create new ways of speaking and expressing themselves which result in tons of slang words. And as Brazil is a large country, there will be a variety of expressions used in the different regions. In this post, I’m concentrating in the southeast of Brazil which is the area where I spent most of my life, unless I mention some other area beside the term. Obviously, these expressions aren’t always appropriate to be used in all venues. However, among the young people, friends and other colloquial settings they are totally accepted.
Beleza!: This word literally means beauty. However, it can take other meanings in colloquial language: if said in a affirmative way – all right, sure; if used as question – Beleza?, it means – Are things going well with you?
- Vou passar na sua casa às 2:15 da tarde, falou? – Beleza!
~ I’m going to stop by your place at 2:15 p.m., OK? – Sure!
Credo!: This term literally means Creed as in the Catholic prayer and can be translated as Oh, my goodness! However, the connotation in Portuguese is a bit stronger as Brazilians use it to express themselves when they feel disgusted or astonished by something that seems very repulsive to them. Some people may also say Cruz credo! Cruz means cross. So, as you can see here there’s a religious influence in our speech.
- Encontraram o vizinho morto sem a cabeça. – Credo!
~ They found the neighbor dead without his head. – Oh, my goodness!
Falou: This expression comes from verb Falar which literally means to speak. It’s used to ask whether a person agrees with something you going to do.
- Vou passar na sua casa às 2:15 da tarde, falou? _ Falou!
~ I’m going to stop by your place at 2:15 p.m., OK? _ OK!
A ficha caiu: This expression literally means the token (for a public phone) dropped. It is used in Goiânia, Goiás in central region of Brasil to mean I finally got it – it clicked. It can refer to something someone said or did.
- O sobrenome dela é alemão, mas ela é brasileira. _ O que? Alemão? Brasileira? Ah, a ficha caiu!
~ Her last name is German, but she’s Brazilian. _ What? German? Brazilian? Ah, I got it!
- Oi, galera! Estão prontos para começar o trabalho?
~ Hi gang! Are you ready to begin the project?
- Vou começar num cursinho de inglês amanhã. – Legal!
~ Tomorrow, I’m going to start studying English at a private language school. – Cool!
Manda Brasa!: This expression is used to encourage to someone who has made a decision which will bring change into his life. It’s like saying Go for it! Carry on!
- Vou começar num cursinho de inglês amanhã. – Manda brasa!
~ Tomorrow, I’m going to start studying English at a private language school. – Go for it!
Moleza: This is another very popular term among young people which means ~ A piece of cake!.
- Como foi seu teste de português? – Moleza!
~ How was your Portuguese exam? – A piece of cake!
Nossa!: This expression is used to show surprise either in a positive or negative way. It would be equivalent to the American surprise interjection: Wow! It came from the expression Nossa Senhora! which means Our Lady. Somehow, the word Senhora was dropped off, probably to avoid irreverence towards Our Lady. Another religious influence seen in our language.
- Um carro vinha chegando na esquina quando capotou três vezes. _ Nossa! Eles sobreviveram?
~ A car was just coming around the corner when it overturned three times. _ Wow! Did they live?
Peraí!: This expression is used a lot in the northeast of Brazil. It can be used in two different contests: when someone is walking too fast and you can’t keep up with the other person’s pace, meaning Wait up! or when somebody is saying something too fast making it difficult to understand, meaning Hold on! Peraí is actually the shortened form of espera aí – which literally means wait there.
- Maria, Peraí! Já não consigo mais caminhar tão rápido. Estou sem fôlego.
~ Maria, wait up! I can’t walk that fast anymore. I’m out of breath.
Que Cara-de-pau!: This expression is used to refer to someone who has the nerve to say or do things that other people wouldn’t normally do. You see Cara de pau literally means wooden face. So, considering that a wooden face will not break easily, this person will get into weird situations without any shame. He usually does things without thinking in the consequences, and sometimes gets in trouble. The closest expression I can think of in English is – He has the nerve! What a nerve!
- O Pedro vai a festa da Selma sem ter sido convidado. _ Que cara-de-pau! Ela vai ficar uma fera.
~ Pedro is going to Selma’s party without having been invited. _ What a nerve! She’s going to go berserk.
Quem dera: This expression means I wish, and as in English, it’s used to express a desire to do something that you believe is not possible.
- Você está indo passar o Natal no Brazil? Quem dera! Infelizmente, tenho muita dívida.
~ Are you going to Brazil for Christmas? I wish! Unfortunately, I have too much debt.
Que vacilo!: Young people love to use this expression when a friend makes a silly mistake that could have been avoided; or when a friend says or does something the galera thinks is awkward or embarassing to them. So, It’s like saying What a goof ball! or How stupid!. They can also use the verb vacilar (waver). They might say: Vacilei (I blew it) or vacilou (he/she blew it) and then, mention what they did.
- Carlos disse a Daniela que ele não vai a festa de aniversário dela. _ Mas era uma surpresa. Que vacilo!
~ Carlos told Daniela he’s not going to her birthday party. _ But it was a surprise. What a goof ball!
Sacou?: This term means Did you get it? And the answer would be Saquei – I got it.
- Vou chegar na sua casa às 2:30 porque vou ter que ir de ônibus, sacou? _ Saquei.
~ I’m going to get to your house at 2:30 because I’m going to take the bus, get it? _ I got it.
Se liga!: This expression means stay connected or pay attention. So, when friends are talking or doing something together and they notice that someone in the group is tuned out, they use this expression.
- É sua vez de jogar. Se liga aí cara!
~ It’s you turn to play. Hey dude wake up!
Tipo assim: The locals love to use this expression when they are talking about something, and they give an example. Sometimes, they get so carried away that they say it really fast and end up swallowing some letters and you hear: tipo sim. The closest thing to this expression that I can think of in English is it’s like.
- Ela é uma garota legal. Tipo assim, ela é simpática e tudo, mas não quero namorá-la.
~ She’s a cool girl. It’s like – she’s nice and all, but I don’t want to date her.
Tô ferrado! Tá ferrado! – This expression is used to say you or a third person is in trouble. It would be the equivalent to I’m screwed! His screwed! Tô and Tá are the colloquial shortened forms of the verb estar in the first person singular of the simple present estou = tô, and the third person singular está = tá.
- O Carlos tá ferrado! A namorada pegou ele beijando outra garota.
~ Carlos is screwed! His girlfriend caught him kissing another girl.
Tô Nem aí! – This means I could care less! or I don’t care! This expression can also be used for the third person singular – Tá nem aí!
- O Paulo disse que quer o CD dele de volta. – O que? Tô Nem aí!
~ Paulo says he wants his CD back. – What? I don’t care!
Valeu! This can be used in three different ways: in the sense of thanks, OK, and bye.
- Aqui está seu livro. Valeu!
~ Here’s your book. Thanks!
- Amanhã, eu trago seu livro de volta, valeu? – Valeu!
~ Tomorrow, I’ll bring your book back, OK? – OK!
- Nos vemos amanhã, então. Valeu! – Valeu!
~ We’ll see each other tomorrow, then. Bye! – Bye!
Valeu that you checked this post out! If you’re just starting on your journey of Portuguese learning, be sure to check out the Starter Guide.