Discover these 5 fun Brazilian Portuguese phrases - and what they mean in English

Do you ever have when Learn portuguese, Heard one brazilian portuguese expression That made no sense to you – but all of the residents seemed to have understood it perfectly?

Well when you travel to Brazil you will hear a lot about it!

Just like in Spanish, or any other language we Brazilians like to use our most common expressions to add some flair to what we say. And as crazy as they seem, they actually make a lot of sense!

So let’s put things in context:

I’ll show you some of our main brazilian portuguese expressions by introducing yourself Yesournew imaginary best friend, Fernanda.

To introduce your friend Fernanda is a real gem. She is brilliant and caring, and you love hanging out with her …

Add these 5 fun Brazilian Portuguese phrases to your vocabulary

1. Colocar a mão no fogo por alguém

Literal translation: to put your hand in the fire for someone

English equivalent: do something for someone

You have just given Fernanda some top secret information. It reminds you how trustworthy and loving she is and how you would do anything for her.

In Brazil we would say:

Eu colocaria a mão no fogo por ela.

I would do anything for you.

We don’t mean that literally, of course – Putting your hand on the fire is a bit extreme! It is just a phrase we use to show how much we trust someone.

2. Segurar vela

Literal translation: hold a candle

English equivalent: be a third wheel

Fernanda has a new boyfriend now, but you still want to hang out with her, don’t you?

Well, be prepared for it .. “segurar vela“.

Segurar vela

Be the third wheel

In Brasil, “segurar vela”Describes the sometimes uncomfortable act of gate crashing quality time of two of your favorite lovebirds.

3rd About bolo

Literal translation: give a cake

English equivalent: raise someone up

No, unfortunately your good friend Fernanda did not show up at your door with a cake. Here’s what actually happened: Fernanda forgot to meet you and instead went out with her boyfriend. You didn’t show up any smarter as she didn’t send you a message to cancel.

Deu um bolo.

She lifted me up.

Bad form, Fernanda! We do not accept no-shows.

4. Pisar na bola

Literal translation: step on the ball

English equivalent: screw up

You’re (rightly!) Not thrilled with the Fact that Fernanda eng about bolo, and you confront them.

Você pisou na bola.

You screwed up

This is the perfect Portuguese expression for Brazil, though You disagree with something someone did or said.

5. Dar o braço a torcer

Literal translation: to twist your arm

English equivalent: eat a piece of humble cake

Fernanda had some time to think and is now feeling terrible because she got you up.

She admits she was wrong. In other words:

Deu o braço a torcer.

She ate a piece of humble cake.

With arms thoroughly twisted (or no more humble cake to eat!), Fernanda promises she will never do it again. You hug and put on makeup and your friendship is restored!


I’ll leave the somewhat cheesy story with Fernanda there – One row is enough for a day.

If you’re curious about other Brazilian Portuguese expressions that are popular with the locals, there are too many to count.

To name a few we have:

Literal translation: break a wooden stick

English equivalent: to do someone a favor

Literal translation: wash your hands wash

English equivalent: to nothing about something

Literal translation: make a storm in a glass of water

English equivalent: exaggerate

But I could be here for hours.

If you want to know more about it Portuguese in Brazil and our idiomswhy not try our app (Brazilian) Portuguese course?

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