Idioms in Brazilian Portuguese – Part 01 Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Oi, tudo bem com você?

Brazilian Portuguese has lots of cool and interesting idioms so let’s start learning some of them, tudo bem? Vamos começar?

Abandonar o barco – literally it means to abandon the boat, to jump off ship. It’s used when you give up on a hard ongoing situation. Ele não aguentou a pressão em casa e abandonou o barco. (He couldn’t take the pressure at home anymore and jumped off ship.)

Acertar na mosca – to hit the nail on the head. Você achou a falha, Beth. Você acertou na mosca! (You’ve spotted the flaw, Beth. You’ve hit the nail on the head!)

Abotoar o paletó – to die, to kick the bucket. Se ele continuar bebendo assim ele vai abotoar o paletó logo logo. (If he keeps drinking like that he’s going to kick the bucket real soon.)

Acabar em pizza – to come to nothing. This expression is used when corruption and no one is punished, eventually people order a pizza because there’s nothing else to be done. Todo mundo achava que ele ia ser preso, mas tudo acabou em pizza. (Everybody thought he was going to be arrested, but nothing came of it.)

Achar/procurar chifre em cabeça de cavalo – Literally “to look for horns on the head of a horse”, which means to look for problems where they don’t exist. Não sei porque ela está procurando chifre em cabeça de cavalo, já está tudo certo para a viagem. (I don’t know why she’s looking for trouble where there’s none, everything’s set for the trip.)

A dar com pau – in large amounts, loads of something. Tinha comida a dar com pau na festa. (There were lots of food at the party.)

Agarrar com unhas e dentes – to take full advantage of an opportunity, not let it slip away. Ele agarrou seu novo emprego com unhas e dentes e está fazendo de tudo para mantê-lo. (He’s fiercely held on to his new job and is doing everything to keep it.)

Água que passarinho não bebe – alcoholic beverage, “water that birds don’t drink” (humorous). Ele estava com um copo na mão e acho que era de água que passarinho não bebe. (He was holding a glass and I think it was booze.)

Amigo da onça – false, fake, phony friend. O mundo está cheio de amigos da onça. (The world is full of phony friends.)

Nos vemos na próxima semana!

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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. Craig:

    Thank you!

  2. Margaret Nahmias:

    I could see myself using all of these.

  3. Martin:

    Obrigado,Adir. Voce deu dicas a dar com pau!