Animals as Adjectives Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Customs, Vocabulary

Oi, pessoal! (Hey, people!)

Many languages use animals as an adjective to describe humans. Some may refer to the leading characteristic of the animal in question (such as slow, large) as a basis of comparison, whereas other can be more abstract and have nothing to do with the animal itself.

Either way, the meaning of each animal as an adjective can vary greatly from language to language, so it should not be taken for granted that what one animal means in one language applies to all of them.

To avoid confusion and to enrich your vocabulary, here is a list of adjectives with animals and their definition, followed by examples:

Porco (pig): someone with bad hygiene practices, dirty

  • Pedro é muito porco, acredita que ele derrubou um chocolate no chão e pegou de novo? (Pedro is so “pig”, can you believe he dropped a piece of chocolate on the ground and picked it up again?)
  • Vai comer sem lavar as mãos? Não seja porco! (Are you going to eat without washing your hands? Don’t be “pig”!)


Porco (pig)

Porco (pig)


Gato (cat): someone attractive, cute

  • Me passa o telefone do seu amigo? Ele é muito gato. (Can I have your friend’s number? He’s really “cat”.)
  • Tenho vergonha de falar com ela! Ela é gata demais. (I’m too shy to talk to her! She’s too “cat”.)

*also very common in the diminutive form: gatinho and gatinha

Gato (cat)

Gato (cat)

Anta (tapir): when someone messes up, does something stupid

  • Tranquei a chave dentro do carro de novo! Sou uma anta mesmo. (I locked the keys in my car again! I’m a real “tapir”.)
  • Mateus confundiu a data e chegou no aeroporto um dia depois. Que anta! (Mateus got the dates mixed up and arrived at the airport a day later. What a “tapir”!)
Anta (tapir)

Anta (tapir)

Burro (donkey): dumb, stupid

  • Fui mal na prova de física de novo. Estou me sentindo muito burro. (I failed the physics test again. I’m feeling really “donkey”.)
  • Carlos foi burro em terminar com a noiva, ela era uma ótima mulher. (Carlos was donkey to break up with his fiancée, she was a great woman.)
Burro (donkey)

Burro (donkey)

Lesma (slug): someone or something very slow

  • O carro estava uma lesma e chegou em último lugar na corrida. (The car was a “lesma” and arrived last at the race.)
  • Você é uma lesma! Se não andar mais depressa vamos perder o filme. (You are a “lesma”! If you don’t walk faster we’re going to miss the movie.)
Lesma (slug)

Lesma (slug)

Some adjectives may have a derogatory connotation, though still very common in usage:

Galinha (hen): someone who is promiscuous, enjoys having many partners

  • Você é muito galinha! Ontem estava com um cara e hoje já está saindo com outro. (You are so “hen”! Yesterday you were with a guy and today you are going out with someone else.)
  • Marina teve que terminar com o namorado porque ele era muito galinha. (Marina had to break up with her boyfriend because he was very “hen”.)
Galinha (hen)

Galinha (hen)

Vaca (cow): an insult to women, equivalent to “bitch” in English. Note: very offensive

  • Minha chefe é uma vaca, me demitiu sem nenhum motivo. (My boss is a “cow”, she fired me for no reason.)
  • Aquela vaca roubou minha vaga. (That “cow” stole my parking spot.)
Vaca (cow)

Vaca (cow)

Veado (deer): a word to refer to homosexuals, but also used as a general insult to men. Note: may carry a negative meaning depending on how it is used, but it is also a very common synonym for gay.

  • Marcela estava afim do Paulo, mas descobriu que ele era veado. (Marcela had a crush on Paulo, but she found out that he was “deer”.)
  • Aquele veado me cortou no trânsito e quase causou um acidente. (That “deer” cut me off in traffic and almost caused an accident.)
Veado (deer)

Veado (deer)


Tenham um bom fim de semana! (Have a good weekend!)


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