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Your Intro to Portuguese Slang and Colloquialisms

Every language includes some slang. Like grammar, verbs, and vocabulary, these unique words and expressions are also part of learning a new language. They are not only fun but also practical.

Slang is mostly used in conversation. Thus, it is unlikely that you will find it in writing in books that are not novels. However, learning to apply it in context will help you mingle with the natives.

This article will tell you all you need to know about slang words in European Portuguese. You won’t learn Portuguese bad words that you might not feel comfortable using. Instead, you will learn expressions native speakers use in informal contexts.

A Short History of Portuguese Slang

As long as there has been language, there has been slang. It is part of human nature to adapt to different contexts. Formal situations require a more cared-for language, while informal settings allow you to relax and speak your mind.

Slang is a type of language used in informal situations
Slang is a type of language used in informal situations

The word Slang in the Portuguese language translates to Calão or Gíria. Its most recent records remount to the 20th century. Alberto Bessa, a prominent Portuguese writer and journalist, collected over 5 thousand Portuguese slang words and expressions. His work was published in 1901 and is still available in bookshops over 120 years later.

Since then, many have written books and dictionaries about the same subject. More recently, José João Almeida, from the Minho University, created another Portuguese slang dictionary.

Learning and Using Portuguese Slang

Depending on context, it might be appropriate to use a specific Portuguese word, or not
Depending on the context, it might be appropriate to use a specific Portuguese word, or not

Learning slang is one of the best ways to sound more fluent. These terms often have no direct translation. They evolved with the culture. Because of that, their pronunciation might be challenging to get right.

The typical native speaker uses some slang in their day-to-day conversations. They apply to all sorts of informal situations, from being filler words in the middle of a sentence or as a joke. Still, overdoing it is closely related to being rude, inconsiderate, or less educated.

Additionally, some words are considered less appropriate than others. Thus, you must rely on your instinct and knowledge to decide which to use and when to use them.

10 Slang Expressions You Will Hear Anywhere in Portugal

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Here are ten colloquial expressions you must know in Portuguese:

Fixe

This word means cool or awesome. It defines something or someone you find impressive. You can say: O teu carro novo é mesmo fixe!

(Your new car is really cool!)

Use Portuguese slang every day. For example:
To say Your sunglasses are so cute!
You can say Os teus óculos são muito giros!
Use Portuguese slang every day. For example:
To say Your sunglasses are so cute!
You can say Os teus óculos são muito giros!

Giro

Giro

means cute or nice. It describes people, clothes, or things that look good. If you like someone’s dress, you can say: Que vestido giro!
(What a cute dress!)

Epá

Epá

is an exclamation similar to wow or oh. It expresses surprise, emphasis, or mild frustration. You might include it in a phrase like: Epá
, não acredito que fizeste isso!
(Wow, I can’t believe you did that!). You will also hear the common variation Pá, which translates to Man or Dude.

Bué

Bué

means a lot or very. It intensifies an adjective or denotes a large quantity. If you feel tired, you can say: Estou bué
cansado hoje.
(I am exhausted today.)

Fulano
or Fulana

Fulano

or fulana
means someone or so-and-so. It refers to a person whose name you either don’t know or don’t want to mention. Fulano
ligou para mim.
(So-and-so called me.)

Gajo
or Gaja

Gajo

(masculine) or gaja
(feminine) is an informal term for guy or girl. It’s a casual way to refer to someone, although some may feel it is impolite. In Portugal, you will often hear phrases like: Aquele gajo
é muito engraçado.
(That guy is very funny.)

Lixar

Lixar

is a Portuguese verb that means To sand. However, it can also express the idea of To mess up or To screw up. It applies when someone makes a mistake or causes a problem. You could say in conversation: Ele lixou tudo no trabalho. (He messed everything up at work.)

Another example would be if you want to send someone to take a walk. In that case, it is common to say Vai-te lixar.

Basar

Basar

means To leave or To go away. It’s a casual way to say you’re going somewhere. Vou basar
, até logo!
(I’m going to leave. See you later!)

Malta

Malta

is a common expression to indicate a group of friends. It could be translated as guys when referring to a group of people you hang out with. You might say: Vamos sair com a malta
hoje à noite.
(We’re going out with the guys tonight.)

Malta is European Portuguese slang for guys
Malta is European Portuguese slang for Guys

Brutal
or Porreiro

Brutal

means awesome, and porreiro
means cool or nice. Both are used in the same contexts to describe something great or impressive. In this case, you could say: A festa foi brutal!
(The party was awesome!) or O teu plano é porreiro.
(Your plan is cool.)

Diversity of Slang in The Portuguese Language

Like in most other languages, you will find slang words and expressions used by native speakers all over the country. However, most regions have unique phrases created over time by the locals. Consider five examples from each Portuguese region.

Slang in Northern Portugal

  • Canalha
    : a group of children
    • A canalha está a brincar lá fora.
    • The children are playing outside.
  • Chaço
    : old car
    • O meu carro é aquele chaço que está ali.
    • My car is that old one over there.
  • Dar de frosques
    : run away
    • O gato deu de frosques assim que me viu.
    • The cat ran away as soon as he saw me.
  • Sertã
    : frying pan
    • Vamos fritar os ovos na sertã.
    • We’ll fry the eggs in the frying pan.
  • Tótil
    : a lot, very, or really
    • Ele é tótil fixe.
    • He is really cool.

Explore more Northern slang words here.

Central Portuguese Slang

  • Ganda pinta
    : describes something very cool, usually related to looks.
    • O teu carro tem uma ganda pinta!
    • Your car is so cool!
  • Caldusso
    : a slap on the back of the head
    • Levas um caldusso, pá!
    • I’ll slap you, man!
  • Beca
    : a little bit
    • O filme foi uma beca aborrecido.
    • The movie was a bit boring.
  • Cota
    : older person, usually one’s parents. Similar to the English expression “old man.”
    • O meu cota já tem sessenta anos.
    • My old man is sixty now.
  • Labrego
    : a person who has no manners, a roughneck, or a bumpkin.
    • Aquele fulano é um labrego.
    • That dude is a bumpkin.
Have fun using Portuguese slang from different regions
Have fun using Portuguese slang from different regions

Southern Portuguese Vernacular Expressions

  • Mechas
    : interjection that conveys the same meaning as the English dang.
    • Mechas, queimei o arroz.
    • Dang, I burnt the rice.
  • Desgroviade
    : someone who is directionless, not trustworthy, or unreliable.
    • Ele é meio desgroviade.
    • He is not to be trusted.
  • Maldeçoade
    :
    literally meaning cursed. Expresses anger toward someone.
    • Ah, môce maldeçoade!
    • Oh, you blasted boy!
  • Prenha
    : pregnant women or animal
    • A minha cadela está prenha.
    • My dog is pregnant.
  • Patochadas
    : foolishness
    • Só dizes patochadas.
    • All you say is foolishness.

Find more slang expressions used in the South of Portugal here.

Portuguese Slang Expressions From Madeira and Azores

  • Bilhardeiro
    : someone who is overly curious, a meddler.
    • Não sejas bilhardeiro.
    • Don’t be a meddler.
  • Carrolaços
    : a pounding, hitting someone, or getting hit.
    • Olha que te dou uns carrolaços.
    • Watch out, or I’ll give you a pounding.
  • Escarépio
    : someone or something gross that stinks or provokes nausea.
    • Que escarépio!
    • How gross!
  • Botar sentido
    : to attend to a task.
    • Eu vou botar sentido nisso.
    • I’ll handle it.
  • Tromba
    : face or facial expression (literally proboscis or snout).
    • Mas que trombas são essas?
    • What’s with that face?

Find more terms from the Azores here and from Madeira here.

Distinguishing From European and Brazilian Portuguese Slang

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Learn European Portuguese the Instinctive Way!

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At the base of it all is a sound conviction that languages are better learned instinctively, so the process needs to engaging, varied, and enjoyable. Throughout, we used scientifically proven techniques to help you master pronunciation, phrase construction, oral understanding, grammar, and all the necessary bits to get you to fluency. And still, the whole thing is presented as an adventure. It’s a course like no other, trust us!

In this article, you have only learned about European Portuguese terms. Brazilians might use some of the expressions above, but most relate to the culture in Portugal. Besides, some terms that are acceptable in Portugal are curse words in Brazilian Portuguese and vice-versa.

10 Brazilian Portuguese Slang Expressions

Here are ten slang expressions you will hear in Brazil:

  1. Beleza – means beauty. But it is also often used to mean okay or cool. For example, Tudo beleza? is an informal greeting that means Everything okay?
  2. Cara – means face, but it is commonly used to refer to a person, similar to dude or guy in English. For instance, the phrase Esse cara é legal means That guy is cool.
  3. E aí? – This expression means What’s up? Or how’s it going? It is a casual greeting among friends.
  4. Maneiro – This word means cool or awesome. For example, someone saying Esse filme é maneiro means This movie is awesome.
  5. – A versatile interjection to express surprise, frustration, or emphasis. It’s similar to wow or come on. For example, Pô, que chato! means Wow, that’s annoying!
  6. Grana – This word means money. For example, Estou sem grana means I’m broke or I have no money.
  7. Trampo – This slang word means job or work. For instance, Vou pro trampo means I’m going to work.
  8. Zoar – This verb means to make fun of or tease someone. For example, Eles estão zoando você means They are making fun of you.
  9. Rolê – This slang term means hangout or outing. It refers to going out with friends or having a casual get-together. For example, Vamos dar
    um rolê?
    means Shall we hang out?
  10. Dar um jeito – This expression means to find a way or to manage. For instance, Vamos dar
    um jeito nisso
    means Let’s find a way to solve this.
Know the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese slang
Know the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese slang

Learn European Portuguese Slang Expressions!

Slang and colloquialisms are not only frequent but a crucial part of Portuguese culture. You can use them when relaxingly speaking to your friend at a local café

, as a filler word, or to express strong feelings about a subject. Doing so will help you sound more fluent and connect with the natives at a deeper level.

Incorporate these terms into your vocabulary and use them appropriately. After all, they are part of a rich culture and reflect the culture and identity of the Portuguese people. What is your favorite Portuguese slang expression? Comment it with us below!

Continue exploring funny Portuguese idioms in Funny Portuguese Phrases and Expressions to Use in 2024. And watch the: TOP 20 Funniest Portuguese Idiomatic Expressions.

TOP 20 Funniest Portuguese Idiomatic Expressions

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