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20 EXPRESSÕES IDIOMÁTICAS WE DO USE IN BRAZIL!

 

Thanks for your interest in learning more about our beautiful Brazilian Portuguese language. This is just the beginning of our journey!

This handout presents 20 different idioms (expressões idiomáticas) we do use in Brazil in informal conversations.

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1. ACERTAR NA MOSCA

Literal Translation: To hit the fly

Sentence: Ele acertou na mosca os números da loteria.

Translation: He hit all the lottery numbers.

Real Meaning: to do or say exactly the right thing.

 

2. AGARRAR COM UNHAS E DENTES

Literal Translation: Grasp with teeth and nails

Sentence: Vou agarrar com unhas e dentes esta oportunidade de trabalho.

Translation: I’m going to fight tooth and nail to grab this job opportunity.

Real Meaning: make the most of the opportunity; to do your best to achieve a goal.

 

3. AMIGO DA ONÇA

Literal Translation: friend of jaguar

Sentence: Ele contou meu segredo pra todo mundo. Ele é um amigo da onça! Não confio mais nele.

Translation: He told my secret to everyone. He is a false friend/ a snake in the grass. I do not trust him anymore.

Real Meaning: someone who pretends to be your friend while secretly doing things to harm you. But it can be used also with real friends as a joke, with sarcasm.

 

4. ARREGAÇAR AS MANGAS

Literal Translation: to roll up the sleeves

Sentence: Há muito trabalho a ser feito, então vamos arregaçar as mangas e começar a limpar a casa.

Translation: There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s roll up our sleeves and begin cleaning the house.

Real Meaning: to prepare yourself to begin a work; put some effort to do something.

 

5. BATER AS BOTAS

Literal Translation: to kick the boots

Sentence: Você não soube? Ele bateu as botas. Teve um ataque do coração.

Translation: Didn’t you hear? He kicked the bucket. He Had a heart attack.

Real Meaning: to die; pass away.

 

6. BATER NA MESMA TECLA

Literal Translation: To hit the same key

Sentence: Você já me falou sobre este assunto umas dez vezes. Pare de ficar batendo na mesma tecla, por favor! (more usual than ‘Pare de bater na mesma tecla, por favor!’)

Translation: You told me about this issue a dozen times. Stop hitting the same key, please!

Real Meaning: harp on about something; harp on the same string.

 

7. COLOCAR MELANCIA NA CABEÇA

Literal Translation: To put watermelon on head

Sentence: Ele faz de tudo pra chamar a atenção das meninas do bairro. Só falta colocar uma melancia na cabeça!

Translation: He does everything to catch the attention of the neighborhood girls. All he needs to do is put a watermelon on his head!

Real Meaning: Do everything to get someone’s attention.

 

8. BRIGA DE CACHORRO GRANDE

Literal Translation: fight of big dogs

Sentence: Os dois times estão bem preparados para o jogo de hoje. Será uma briga de cachorro grande!

Translation: Both teams are well prepared for today’s match. It will be a big dogfight/ a battle of giants!

Real Meaning: dispute when both sides are considered superior.

 

9. BOTAR A BOCA NO TROMBONE

Literal Translation: to put the mouth on a trombone

Sentence: Se você não contar o que fez para (pra) a sua mãe, eu vou botar a boca no trombone!

Translation: If you do not tell what you did to your mother, I’ll put my mouth on the trombone/ I’ll tell her!

Real Meaning: tell something widely so that everyone can hear/know. Usually used when a person is unsatisfied with a situation.

 

10. DORMIR NO PONTO

Literal Translation: to sleep at a point

Sentence: Minha irmã dormiu no ponto ontem. Esqueceu que tinha prova na escola.

Translation: My sister asleep at the wheel yesterday. She forgot she had a test at school.

Real Meaning: similar to be asleep at the wheel; be asleep at the switch. When someone is not paying attention and lose something by a chance.

 

11. ESTAR COM A BOLA MURCHA

Literal Translation: be with a deflated ball

Sentence: Ele está desanimado e disse que não vai à festa. Ele está com a bola murcha desde que terminou o namoro.

Translation: He is discouraged and said he will not go to the party. He has been like that since the end of his courtship.

Real Meaning: similar to Losing Streak. Term very used in soccer to refer to someone who is not good on the sport or made a bad match. Being down, lazy.

 

12. IR CATAR COQUINHO

Literal Translation: to go and get coconuts.

Sentence: Você só aparece aqui quando quer meu dinheiro emprestado. Não quer nem saber se estou bem. Vai catar coquinho!

Translation: You just show up when you want to borrow my money. You do not even want to know if I am okay. Get out of here!

Real Meaning: similar to Go fry an egg. Do not disturb me; Get out of here.

 

13. QUEBRAR O GALHO

Literal Translation: To break the branch

Sentence: Vou quebrar seu ganho hoje e te emprestar meu carro para ir ao cinema com a sua namorada.

Translation: I’m going to help you tonight and lend you my car so you can go to the movies with your girlfriend.

Real Meaning: to give a temporary solution while the definitive is not available or ready in that moment.

 

14. LAVAR AS MÃOS

Literal Translation: to wash hands

Sentence: Eu não vou me envolver nessa história mentirosa. Lavo minhas mãos!

Translation: I’m not going to get involved in this lying story. I wash my hands of it!

Real Meaning: to get out of a responsibility or when you want to express that the person has nothing to do with what might happen to someone.

 

15. ESTAR DANDO SOPA

Literal Translation: be given soup

Sentence: Aqui é muito perigoso. Ele está dando sopa ao usar esse relógio de ouro.

Translation: It’s very dangerous here. He is so vulnerable using this gold watch.

Real Meaning: Being inadvertently vulnerable; inattentive to a situation.

 

16. DESCASCAR O ABACAXI

Literal Translation: to peel the pineapple

Sentence: Vou ficar no trabalho até mais tarde descascando um abacaxi. O relatório vai ter que ser refeito devido a um erro.

Translation: I’ll stay at work until later ‘peeling a pineapple’/ solving a problem. The report will have to be redone due to an error.

Real Meaning: to solve a boring or difficult problem. Usually, something that nobody wants to do.

 

17. TEMPESTADE EM COPO D’ÁGUA

Literal Translation: storm in a glass of water

Sentence: O acidente não foi nada grave. Ana está fazendo tempestade em copo d’água!

Translation: The accident was nothing serious. Ana is overreacting this!

Real Meaning: make a scandal or have an exaggerated reaction to something very simple or easy.

 

18. VIAJAR NA MAIONESE

Literal Translation: to travel on the mayonnaise

Sentence: Ela disse que vai à festa de casamento de bermuda jeans. Ela está viajando na maionese!

Translation: She said she’s going to the city’s most elegant wedding party wearing jeans. She is spacing out!

Real Meaning: similar to space out, daydream, in lala land. When someone says something silly, that does not make any sense. When someone is totally distracted.

 

19. SEM PÉ NEM CABEÇA

Literal Translation: without foot and head

Sentence: Ele contou uma história sem pé nem cabeça só para faltar a aula.

Translation: He told a story without rhyme or reason just to skip the class.

Real Meaning: similar to without rhyme or reason. Something said that makes no sense, an invented history.

 

20. BOLA PRA FRENTE

Literal Translation: ball forward

Sentence: O projeto não deu certo. Mas vamos fazer outro ainda melhor. Bola pra frente!

Translation: The project has failed. But we are going to make another one even better. Let’s move on!

Real Meaning: to go ahead, be positive, overcome bad things and do not look back.