One day when I was whipping together some garlic bread bruchetta that the kids in the NGO of Rocinha (largest favela in Rio) would wrinkle their noses at, a kid decided I needed to know more Brazilian slang.
He stepped forward and taught me how to tell people I wanted to get out of there: vou meter o pé. My first Brazilian gíria (slang). I still didn’t know how to formulate a sentence, but I did know how to mutter the street cred slang equivalent of “I wanna split.” It didn’t go so well with my British accented Portuguese. Though it did make me realise that the bulk of what I wasn’t understanding was correct Portuguese sentences, yet slathered in slang and dotted with cut-up verbs.
Did I research these slang words in my Brazilian husband’s WhatsApp? Yes, yes I did.
Here’s some bona fide Whatsapp research for you. The real Brazilian slang lying-in-wait to trip you up.
Brazilian Slang Used to Refer to People
Means mischievous boy. Muleques for more than one of them!
Cadê os muleques?
Where are the guys?
Shortened version of “hermano,” the Spanish for brother. Means something like “pal.” Use this for close friends.
A zé mané is just some random guy.
Another way of saying “man” or “friend.”
Cara, não sei
Man, I don’t know
A crazy guy. Maluca would be a crazy girl.
Used to address a bunch of friends.
Gente means people but can be used as “us.”
A gente vai para praia
We’re going to the beach
My partner or buddy. It doesn’t sound so cowboy/ country in Portuguese though. You can legit use it.
Animal literally, for example “bicho de estimação” is a pet. However, this slang can be used as a derogatory way to refer to something. It could also be used in jest though.
Lunatic, madman or idiot. The most common derogatory name yelled out of a window during road rage.
Brazilian Slang to Say “Cool”
If you put it in the dictionary you’ll get “dough” or “pasta,” which is true. However, this also warped into a Brazilian way of saying “great.”
Translate as “nice” with more oomph.
Maneiro/a (changes with gender of noun)
“Maneiro” also means “way” or “manner,” but when used as an adjective it means “cool.”
Show de Bola
Great performance (more or less), but can be used to same great or cool or agree with doing something.
Everything is great!
Brazilian Portuguese Swear and Cuss Words
The “F” word.
Pô / Porra
The “F” word in another form. Pô is a shortened version that can tone down the sweary-ness.
“Damn” and the novelas top choice of cuss word because it would probably get past your mum.
Wow or gosh. This can be a good kind of wow or a bad kind of wow.
Brazilian Slang for Expressions
Te Dar um Toque
I will let you know or I’ll text/ message / call you. Free translation would be “to give you a touch,” but not in a explicit way. Totally, OK with amigos.
Se Deus Quiser
If God wishes it! Everyone uses this expression to say, “hope so.”
Doing nothing or aimless. Here are some uses below.
“Estou trabalhando á toa”.
I’m working for nothing. There’s no point to my work.
“Não é á toa que encontramos aqui.”
It’s not by chance that we met here.
“Ele sempre fica à toa em casa.”
He always does nothing at home.
Fica na Sua
Mind your own business.
Meter em alguma coisa
To get involved in something, interfere or get in trouble.
Like this. In this way.
Right? Use as an interjection and at the end of sentence to get the person to agree with the gist or confirm the gist.
Let’s go! A shortening of “vamos embora” or “Vou embora.”
“eh.” An interjection used by Brazilians when you want a confirmation.
Used at the end of a sentence, ‘viu’ means got it?, do you see?, or right?
Viu literally means you/ he or she saw (in the past).
He / she is mad. Está bravo/a. The verb “estar” is often shortened in speech to the last syllable.
Thing and also refers to marijuana.
Punch or punch up. Can use this for a fight that broke out. Or to threaten someone…