10 funny Portuguese expressions or sayings

24th January 2017, Joana Kroon

It is always interesting when you move to a new country. The new language and culture can be a stumbling block should you make no effort to familiarize yourself with them. You will most likely feel the need to learn the language in order to properly integrate into your new home. Language is difficult enough due to different constructions, intonations and grammar. Perhaps one of the strangest things about language and in fact culture are the funny expressions, idioms or sayings. To help you understand a few idioms in Portuguese, this blog will look at 10 funny Portuguese expressions.

Portuguese idioms

In Portuguese you can be proud to say that you have “Many years turning chicken”, translated from “Muitos anos a virar Frangos”. No, this has nothing to do with your exemplary chef skills. This expression means that you have many years of experience.

When one says “To go with the pigs/ gone with the pigs”, in Portuguese “Ir com os porcos”. Please try not to laugh. The literal meaning of this expression is quite funny, however, figuratively, it has a rather somber meaning. The expression “Ir com os porcos” means “to die”. But, you might need to have “Many years of turning chicken” not to raise an eyebrow at that expression. An equivalent expression or idiom in English would be “to hit the bucket”.

We all have days where we just wake up in a horrible mood. In Portugal, you may hear your colleagues or friends say you “Woke up with the feet outside”, in Portuguese “Acordar com pés de fora” this just means you woke up in a bad mood. The equivalent of this expression in English would be “To wake up on the wrong side of bed”.

 Should your friends keep bothering you about your grumpy mood, you can tell them to “Go to where Judas lost his boots”, in Portuguese that would be “Onde Judas perdeu as botas”. This expression means to go somewhere far away. 

You could also say that they should go “Comb monkeys”, in Portuguese “Vai Pentear Macacos”. On second thought, perhaps that wouldn’t be very nice to say to friends. Both idioms “Vai Pentear Marcacos” and “Onde Judas perdue as botas” mean to piss off or fuck off in a polite way. A nicer way of saying this would be to tell them “To go bother Camões”, in Portuguese “Chatear Camões”. This means to go bother someone else.

Portuguese translation

When you have strange or suspicious ideas in Portuguese, you are said to have “Monkeys in your head”, translated from “Macahinos na Cabeza”. A little advice; don’t let those mischievous monkeys put you in trouble by giving you strange ideas.

Sometimes we hear things that aren’t very nice or pleasant, however, these things may be true or they may be said by people who we can’t readily confront. Should we try to argue with the person in question, a Portuguese could say to “Shut up and swallow frogs”, in Portuguese “Engolir Sapos”. This expression means to shut up and accept unpleasant things. 

The idiom, “To be buried neck deep in work” has a similar expression in Portuguese. One does not say “To be buried neck deep in work” , they say “Water up his beard”. In Portuguese that would be “Água pela Barba” which means to have a lot of work.

To end this list of 10 funny expressions or sayings in Portugal, I say it is “bread, bread, cheese, cheese”, in Portuguese “Pão, pão, queijo, queijo” which means that it is this simple.

Share this article: