Portuguese Expressions

We, the lovely country you are about to visit, have a lot of funny expressions when we translate them. Below there is a list of expressions, the literal translation in English and an explanation below. I hope you like it.

“Do tempo da Maria Cachucha” – From the time of Maria Cachucha

We use this expression referring to something very old. Cachucha was an old Spanish dance.

“À grande e à francesa” – Big and in the French way

When we live life abundantly.

“Memória de elefante” – Elephants memory

We say it when someone has a very good memory.

“Lágrimas de crocodilo” – Tears from a crocodile

When a person is fake crying. When a crocodile eats an animal he puts a lot of pressure on top of his mouth, making him cry while he eats a prey.

“Ficar a ver navios” – Stay and see ships

It means waiting for something that will not arrive. It was created from people waiting for a ship of our king Dom Sebastião, lost in combat. We still think he might return.

“Queimar as pestanas” – Burn the eyelashes

The expressed used when someone studies a lot, for long periods of time. This phrase appeared because in the old old times’ students needed to use a candle to study. The candle was very weak and students needed to put it really near the papers they were reading. I don’t know if anyone burned their eyelashes this way.

“Não fiz a ponta de um corno” – Didn’t do the edge of a horn

This expression means doing nothing useful to society.

“Estou feito num oito” – I’m done in an 8

Being in bad shape, be in trouble.

“Nem oito nem oitenta” – Neither 8 nor 80

This means doing things in a balanced way. Not much but also not so little.

“Puxar a brasa à minha sardinha” – Push the coal near my sardines

Take advance of something. Have a selfish attitude in a situation.

“Estamos feitos ao bife” – Being done to the beef

Being in trouble or in a complicated situation.

“Acordei com os pés de fora” – Wake up with the feet out of bed

We say it when someone woke up with a bad mood.

“Tempestade num copo de água” – Doing a storm in a glass of water

Give much importance to something insignificant.

“Meter os pés pelas mãos” – Putting your feet in your hands

Being confused or sloppy.

“Tirar o cavalinho da chuva” – Take the horse out of the rain

This expression is a piece of advice we give when someone is dreaming a lot or delusional, for them to slow down and pass into realistic expectations. Wishful thinking.

“Pernas para andar” – Legs to walk

It’s very common to say this expression when someone is explaining a new project or situation and we access it by saying it’s possible to be successful.

“Levar com um balde de água fria” – Being hit with a bucket of cold water

We say this expression when we are disappointed with something or someone.

“Cabeças de alho chocho” – Heads of bad garlic

We say it when a friend or colleague of ours doesn’t think with his head.

“Não misturar alhos com bugalhos” – Don’t mix garlic with onions (it’s not onions but I don’t know the name of the fruit in English)

In english they have a similar expression. “We need to separate the wheat from the chaff”. Both have the meaning of not mixing the two subjects at the same time.

“Boa como o milho” – Good as corn

When a pretty girl passes in front of us, they aren’t sexy, but “good as corn”.

“Gira o disco e toca o mesmo” – Turn the disk and play the same thing

We use this expression when a colleague or friend is talking about the same subject a lot of times.

“Para inglês ver” – For the English to see

We use this expression when someone is paying a lot of attention to its appearance or when someone buys things for others to see (to show off).

“Tens muita lata!” – You have a lot of cans!

We say it when someone is asking too much of something or when someone doesn’t have any shame.

“Muitos anos a virar frangos” – A lot of years turning chickens

We say this expression when someone is very experienced in a job.

“Pão pão, queijo queijo” – Bread bread, cheese cheese

One of my favorite ones. We say this when something is really simple. The “something” in this case could be a task, a job or an answer we are searching for.

“Bater na mesma tecla” – Touch the same key

Insist on something.

“Comprar gato por lebre” – Buying cat for jackrabbit

We say this when someone buys something thinking it’s another item. Also when someone fools you into buying something.

“Dor de cotovelo” – Pain in the elbow

When someone feels envy for something.

“Com a faca e o queijo na mão” – With the knife and the cheese in your possession

We say it when someone has all the power or all conditions to solve an issue.

“Chorar sobre o leite derramado” – Cry about spilled milk

When someone is moaning or complaining about something that has no solution.

“Estar-se nas tintas” – Being in the paint

It doesn’t mean anything about paintings or paints in general. It means when someone is indifferent or ignoring something.

“Fazer vista grossa” – Do a thick view

When someone makes an effort not to look at something. Also, when someone looks at something bad and doesn’t do anything about it.

“O gato comeu a língua” – The cat ate the tongue

We say this expression when someone is very quiet or doesn’t want to speak.

“Pôr os pontos nos i’s” – Put the dots on the “i’s”

We say it when we want a detailed story.

“A galinha da vizinha é sempre melhor” – The neighbors chicken is always better

When we claim that the stuff others have is better than ours.

“Entre a espada e a parede” – Between the sword and the wall

We say it when we are in a difficult situation to get out of.

“Uma mão lava a outra” – A hand washes another

When we want to work together or on the same project.

“Não nasci ontem!” – I wasn’t born yesterday

It’s very common to find mothers saying this to their children when they are lying. It basically means you are clever enough to detect a lie another person is saying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: