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I bet you don’t know what a “gambiarra” is! Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Culture, Vocabulary

Olá, tudo bem?

My dad, Seu Adão, is a very cool guy. He’s 66, retired and is very active. My dad has always been known to fix “anything”. In his neighborhood he’s always called to fix showers, weld fences and things of the sort.

My dad was a machine mechanic (not a car one) and he always improved lots of his “fixings”. These technical improvisations in Portuguese are called uma gambiarra.

Uma gambiarra means that you don’t have the necessary tools to fix something properly. I think in English we’d say that something is “jerry-rigged”, or “a quick fix”.

Some people will call it “macgyverisms” (you probably know Macgyver, right?).

Here are some examples:

Conserta a tomada aí, faz uma gambiarra.
Fix the outlet, just a quick fix.

Cuidado pra não pisar na gambiarra.
Careful not to step on the wires!

Some pictures of interesting gambiarras!


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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. Margaret Nahmias:

    A photo with the denfinition of giambarra was making the rounds.

  2. Mike:

    That’s definitely an interesting word, gambiarra! You bet correctly, and I didn’t know what it was until now. Wonder if this would ever be a word that you could use in a business environment… Just because that’s probably why most foreigners learn Portuguese.

    Thanks Adir!

  3. Charles:

    Brazilian life is full of these gambiarras. Having one of the highest costs of living in the world and being the most closed economy in the world, means that everyday things are that much more out of reach compared to a Western country.