5 Funny Brazilian Expressions to Impress the Locals

5 Funny Brazilian Expressions to Impress the Locals

Have you ever heard of all the trouble someone can go into when they need to ‘peel a pineapple’? What about making a comment and hear from your friend that you’re ‘travelling in the mayo’? 

For as weird as it seems, these phrases make perfect sense if you’re Brazilian or have lived or worked in Brazil long enough be able to grasp the meaning of some cultural specific expressions. To learn more, read our list below and gain an understanding of some expressions in Brazilian Portuguese that will help you to improve your language fluency or simply put a smile on your face today:


1. ‘Descascar um abacaxi’ 

Literally translated is ‘to peel a pineapple’. This means ‘to tackle a problem’, but not a trivial one. The meaning implied by this expression lies in how big the problem is and it usually refers to a mammoth problem.  

‘Pineapple’ is not the only fruit Brazilians related to difficult situations; ‘pepino’ (cucumber) can also be synonym of problem.


2. ‘Baixar a bola’

Meaning ‘to lower your ball’. This expression is often used when someone’s behaviour is exaggerated - too stressed, too arrogant or even too full of themselves – and you want to tell them to slow down. If you’re looking for something equivalent in slangy language it could be translated as ‘tone down’ or even ‘slow your roll’.


3. ‘Viajar na maionese’ or ‘to travel in the mayo’ 

This means to say something that is absurd, crazy and does not make any sense at all. The expression originated amongst prisoners in the 1970s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It started being used to differentiate another idiomatic expression (‘escorregar no quiabo’ = ‘to slip on the okra’), which used to have a double meaning in the prisons back in those days.  


4. ‘Mamão com açúcar’ 

The word-by-word translation is ‘papaya with sugar’. Thanks to Brazil’s tropical climate this fruit is produced in the country and it’s part of the Brazilian regular diet. The closest equivalent to this expression would be ‘as easy as pie’. Papaya with sugar is sweet and easily digestible which ended up being associated with easy, pleasurable things.


5. Chato/a de galocha

The expression is inexistent in English but, unfortunately, there are still many ‘chatos de galocha’ out there. The word ‘boring’ can be translated into Portuguese as ‘chato’, however, the meaning of ‘chato de galocha’ goes beyond. Not only boring but also pedantic, resistant and insistent. In other words, we’re talking about an ‘upgraded boring’ human being.

‘Galocha’ is a type of old rubber shoes to be worn on top of shoes in order to avoid them to get wet or dirty. Their rubber is very resistant and perhaps that is where the expression originated.


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