Brazilian Slang

Brazilian slang

Slang words and expressions in Brazilian Portuguese


‘Ta ligado?’ is short for “Esta ligado?’, literally, ‘are you switched on?’.  In English, the equivalent would be like saying ‘You know what I mean?’ or ‘You know what I’m saying?”

Example: ‘Eu gosto de rap, ta ligado?’ meaning ‘I like rap (music), you know what I’m saying’?

Another slang term involving the same verb ‘ligar’ is ‘Se liga’ which literally means ‘turn yourself on’ and is used to tell someone to pay attention.

Example: ‘Se liga, eu vou te dizer uma coisa.’ meaning ‘Pay attention, I am going to say something to you’.

The Portuguese verb ‘to work’ is ‘trabalhar’ however, you will also hear people using ‘trampar’ which is a slang expression for work.

Example: ‘Tenho que trampar amanha’ meaning ‘I have to work tomorrow.’

In Portugal, the word ‘rapariga’ is used to refer to a female (the male equivalent would be ‘rapaz’.)  However, in Brazil it should not be used as it suggests that the woman sleeps around with a lot of different men!  The English equivalent of a tart or a tramp.

Example: ‘Aquela rapariga ali sai com tudo mundo’ meaning ‘That tramp  over there goes out with everybody’.

‘Dar bola’, from the verb ‘dar’ to give, literally translates as ‘give ball’ however, it is used to indicate that a person is flirting or responding to your advances.

Example: ‘Aquela loira tava me dando bola a noite inteira’ meaning ‘That blonde was flirting with me the entire night’.

‘Trocar uma ideia’ (the literal translation in English would be ‘to trade an idea’ ) means to chat, to talk.

Example: ‘Vamos trocar uma ideia?’ meaning ‘Let’s have a chat?’

‘O bicho vai pegar’ translated literally means ‘The beast is going to grab’.  The meaning is similar to saying ‘Things are going to get bad / get ugly’

‘Negocio / bagulho’ - an inspecific thing.

Example: ‘Aquele bagulho’ / ‘Aquele negocio ali’ - that thing / that thing over there.

‘Dar uma volta’ literally is ‘give a return’ the meaning in Brazil would be to go on a  little / short trip.

Example: ‘Vou dar uma volta na praia’ - I’m going for a little walk on the beach.

Diminutivos (diminutives) are words which are derived form other words of the same meaning.  Brazilian people will often add ‘inho’ at the end which means something is small or cute.

Example, ‘cachorro’ means dog, ‘cachorrinho’ could be used for a small dog, or ‘pequeno’ meaning small, you may hear ‘pequeneninho’ meaning very small.

Similarly, they may add ‘ão’ at the end of a word to signify something big, or large. 

Example: ‘Aquele homem é barrigão’ meaning ‘That man has a large belly’ (from ‘barriga’ meaning belly)

‘Batendo papo’ - having a chat, similar in meaning to ‘trocar uma ideia’ above.

Example: ‘Desculpe o atraso, tava batendo papo com a minha amiga no MSN’ meaning ‘Sorry I’m late, I was chatting with my friend on MSN’

‘Veio’ You will often hear young men calling each other this, which comes from the world ‘velho’ meaning old, and has come to mean ‘guy’, ‘or ‘pal’.

Example ‘Como se ta, veio’?  meaning ‘how are you, pal?’

‘É nóis na fita’ (or simply ‘É nóis’) - meaning literally ‘Is we in the tape’ but somehow is used as an expression somewhat like ‘We’re in the area’, or ‘We got it goin’ on’

Example: ‘Vamos sair hoje de noite?’  ‘Vamu sim! É nóis na fita, mano!’, meaning ‘Lets’s go out tonight?’ ‘Yeah, for sure! We got it goin’ on, bro!’

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So, you’ve spent the last 6 months learning to speak Portuguese, on the Internet, reading books, taking classes, then you arrive in Brazil on holiday, hear people speaking and realise that you don’t understand a thing they’re saying.  The reason?  Brazilian slang.  Slang (‘girias’ in Brazilian Portuguese) are extremely common in everyday speech, and some are impossible to work out unless you know the meaning beforehand.  Bear in mind that these are slang expressions that you may hear in the street, and should not be used in formal situations!