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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!

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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.


Comments:

  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!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPAHBlbS2kw <–link to song