Portuguese Expressions

pulga atrás da orelha - junkhead.jpg
Translation: Flea behind the ear (meaning: being suspicious about something)

The Portuguese language can be very complex and tricky. It happens very often, sentences or phrases have a second meaning: sometimes good, others sarcastic, but most of the times naughty …

Sure they are funny and curious. It is something that makes part of us. Since kids we’re used to hear them from our parents, grandparents, neighbors, the owner of the local shop in the corner… And for that, we even don’t ask anymore where some of the expressions originally came from. It just makes all the sense to us!

burro velho não aprende línguas.png
Translation: Old donkey doesn’t learn languages (meaning: too late to change)

Some expressions differ by region, but some are the same everywhere so everyone knows them. Although it’s difficult to transmit the idea behind the expression, and trying not to lost it during translation, we are going to leave you here some very typical and amusing Portuguese expressions!

(If you recognize some of them or know some similar in your own country, feel free to share!)

(Ilustrations by Portuguese illustrator & graphic designer Junkhead)

Acordar com os pés de fora
Translation: Waking up with the feet outside the bed
Meaning: in bad mood

Andar com a cabeça na lua
Translation: Having the head in the moon
Meaning: being distracted

Dor de cotovelo
Translation: Having a elbow ache
Meaning: to envy, being jealous

Estar feito ao bife
Translation: Ready as a stake
Meaning: in trouble

Ficar à sombra da bananeira
Translation: Being at a banana tree shadow

sombra da bananeira.png

Meaning: doing nothing, not working

Ficar em águas de bacalhau
Translation: Be in cod waters (water used to soak salted cod)
Meaning: having no conclusion, suspended

Passar pelas brasas
Translation: Going through the coals
Meaning: sleep a little, nap

Passar as passas do Algarve
Translation: Going through the raisins of the Algarve
Meaning: having a hard time, difficulties

Muitos anos a virar frangos
Translation: Many years turning chickens

Meaning: many years of experience

Encher chouriços
Translation: Filling chouriço cases (Portuguese sausage)
Meaning: pretending to do something important, doing something with no real meaning or importance

Ter macaquinhos na cabeça
Translation: Have small monkeys in the head

macaquinhos na cabeça
Meaning: having strange ideas, think too much about something bad

Estar bem com Deus e com o Diabo
Translation: Being good with God and with Devil
Meaning: not taking sides

Andar como uma barata tonta
Translation: Being as a crazy cockroach

barata tonta
Meaning: very busy

Onde Judas perdeu as botas
Translation: Where Judas lost his boots
Meaning: very far away

No cu de Judas
Translation: In Judas butt
cu de judas
Meaning: very far away

Com a faca e o queijo na mão
Translation: With the knife and cheese in the hand
Meaning: having power to influence/decide other people’s lives

Nem que a vaca tussa
ranslation: Even if the cow cough

nem que a vaca tussa
Meaning: end up doing something even if it seams hardly possible

Pão, pão, queijo, queijo
Translation: Bread, bread, cheese, cheese

pão, queijo
Meaning: (something) very simple to understand, without doubts (like “2 plus 2, equals 4”)

Comer como um abade
Translation: Eat like an abbot
Meaning: eat a lot, being glutton

Soltar a franga
Translation: Release the hen

soltar a franga
Meaning: going wild, happy, crazy
See you on our Backyard! 🙂


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