Idioms in Brazilian Portuguese – Part 02 Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

E aí, pessoal? Tudo bem?

Let’s learn today some very interesting idioms in Brazilian Portuguese. Remember that languages are full of idioms and it’s always a good idea to be able to recognize and learn them. Vamos começar?

Andar na linha – literally it means to “walk on the line”. This idiom is used when someone gets their act together and starts living a better life, after having had problems. We also have the idiom “perder a linha”, used when someone starts behaving erractically. Here are some examples:

Se você não começar a andar na linha você vai ter problemas, rapazinho. – If you don’t get your act together you’ll start having problems, young man.
Ela bebeu tanto na festa que perdeu a linha e disse ao seu chefe que o achava um imbecil. – She drank so much at the party that she lost it and told her boss she thought she was an idiot.

Ao Deus dará – abandoned, aimless, down-and-out, hopeless. This idioms probably comes from the fact that someone people ignored beggars when they asked for money and said, “Deus dará!” (God will give it to you!). Here’s an example:

Depois que seu marido morreu, ela ficou ao Deus dará e não sabia o que fazer. – After her husbando passed away, she was hopeless and didn’t know what to do.

Ao pé da letra – it means “at the foot of the letter”, in good English, “by the book”. Some examples:

Meu chefe gosta de fazer as coisas ao pé da letra. – My boss likes to do things by the book.
A sentença deveria ser aplicada ao pé da letra conforme o juiz determinou, sem nenhuma regalia. – The sentence should be applied by the book as the judge has determined, with no benefits.

Aos trancos e barrancos – in an erratic way, in fits and starts. Tranco is a collision, a bump. Barranco is a ravine. Aos trancos e barrancos can also mean “clumsily”. Let’s check out some examples:

Ele escreveu seu último livro em trancos e barrancos. – He wrote his last book in fits and starts.
Puxa vida! O Carlos entrou em casa aos trancos e barrancos. – Holy moly! Carlos entered home very clumsily.

Armar um barraco – A barraco is a shack, a very poor house, especially in Brazilian slums. So if you arma um barraco, you literally set up a shack. In everyday Portuguese armar um barraco is to make a fuss, to raise Cain. The person who likes to armar um barraco is called barraqueiro(a).

O vendedor não quis trocar o liquidificador quebrado então ela armou um barraco na loja. – The salesman didn’t want to change the broken blender so she made a fuss at the store.
Você viu o barraco que ele armou na festa ontem? – Did you see the fuss he made at the party yesterday?

Por hoje é só! Nos vemos em breve!

Keep learning Brazilian Portuguese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

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. Jim:

    Hi, Adir,

    Are you familiar with the Chico Buarque song, O Que Será? It is featured in the film, Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos. I think literally o que será means that which will be (Portuguese to English), but I think the idiom is something different, perhaps, What is it that… Can you help?

    Thank you! <–link to song