Say What?! Portuguese Common Phrases & Colloquialisms

Say What?! Portuguese Common Phrases & Colloquialisms

Traveling to Portugal or Brazil? Want to fala portuguese

Portuguese is one of the major languages of the world (the sixth most spoken language worldwide), spoken by about 200 million people on four continents!

In LisbonPorto, and other main destinations, English is spoken fairly widely. The Portuguese are proud of their language so learning just a few simple Portuguese words certainly enhances a visit to Portugal!


Interpretation: Hello! 


Interpretation: Pleased to meet you

Até breve/Até logo/Tchau!

Interpretation: Pretty informal ways of saying See you soon or See you later!


Interpretation: Cheers! This one is actually onomatopoeic for clinking of glasses.  Speakers of French, Spanish, Italian, and Catalan may also use a similar form when toasting. Think of the ting ting a glass makes when struck for toasts.

Fala inglês?

Interpretation: Do you speak English?

Acorde com os pés afastados

Interpretation: Wake up with the feet outside. This can be interpreted as one waking up in a bad mood.

Ainda que vistas a mona de seda, mona se queda.

Interpretation: This one is tough. It’s similar to “you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” or, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig”. Translated somewhat, Even if you see a monkey in silk, it’s still a monkey meaning that someone or something remains what it is, even you ‘dress’ it up nicely.

Alcança quem não cansa

Interpretation: Even though the task might be difficult, or a lot of work, the benefits will reach those who do not tire. Better said, giving up is the easy thing to do, but it’s worth it to persist.

Alimente sua barba

Interpretation: Feed your beard. That’s what it means. Pretty sure it’s similar to ‘hangry’ or those Snickers commercials. “Stop being difficult and go feed your beard.”

barata tonta

Interpretation: Silly cockroach! This one is applicable when someone is being clumsy or unfocused. “Silly cockroach, pay attention!”

Estar com os óleos de oliva

Interpretation: This actually translates to being with the olive oils which refers to someone being in a bad mood. Maybe they need to feed their beard?

Muitos anos transformando galinhas

Interpretation: Ah, you are wise because you have spent many years turning chickens. That’s what it means. At GET, we have muitos anos transformando galinhas in the travel industry (over 40!).

Pão pão, queijo queijo

Interpretation: Bread bread, cheese cheese, it’s that clear. There’s bread and then there’s cheese. This one is used to introduce a frank or direct statement, something like, “I don’t mean to be blunt, but…”

Pegue o pequeno cavalo da chuva

Interpretation: Take the little horse from the rain. This one is tough to explain, but it can be thought of as giving up an attempt or abandoning pretensions, avoiding responsibility, or even losing illusions.  Something like, “throwing in the towel” or “drop it like a hot potato” or “to wash one’s hands of”, but not entirely.

Pulga atrás da orelha

Interpretation: This translates to being with a flea behind one’s ear and means to smell a rat, be suspicious,  to be mistrustful, or maybe even intrigued.

Sob a sombra da Banana Tree

Interpretation: Under the shadow or shade of the banana tree. Think, “no worries” or “hakuna matata”.

Arianna Ambrutis

Having spent much of her life as nomadically as possible, Ari found a home with GET. As far as her travels have taken her, she's worked on an archaeological dig in Israel, sailed around Greek isles, experienced a crazy sunburn in Turkey, adores tomatoes in Italy, and thinks Paris and New York are just the bee’s knees. With her degree in Cultural Anthropology, Ari loves exploring a culture’s traditions, colloquialisms, and (most importantly) cuisines.

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