You have been learning to speak and write proper Portuguese, but not every Portuguese person speaks perfectly 100% of the time. Depending on the context, we might prefer using simpler terms to save time, explain something in a different way, joke around, or even fit in with a group. That’s where gíria popular – or just gíria – comes in. Gíria is the Portuguese term for “slang”. Let’s take a look at some of the most common words.
Ya, eu vou ter convosco.Yeah, I'll meet you guys.
Ya – also found written as iá – is often, but not exclusively, used by young people. It simply means Sim (“Yes”), but can also replace, or be replaced by, Claro (“of course”), Certo (“right”), or even “uh-huh”.
Eu não sei, pá!I don't know, man!
Pá is one of the trademarks of the European Portuguese dialect. It can be used at the end of sentences to emphasize what’s being said, as in the example above. It can also be used in place of “uhh” – the sound you make when you’re thinking.
Pá... não sei o que te diga.Well... I don't know what to tell you.
It’s so common, though, that some people end every sentence with it, even when speaking normally, which makes it sort of like a spoken comma. Epá and Opá are alternate versions, usually appearing in the beginning of a sentence or as interjections. Pá also means “shovel”, but they rarely appear together, so there won’t be any confusion.
Não sei, meu.I don't know, man.
The pronoun meu, which means “mine”, can also be considered the translation of “man” and “dude” and appears in most of the same contexts as pá. Since it’s masculine, it’s used when speaking to a male.
Sabes, tipo, quando fomos ao cinema na segunda?Do you know, like, when we went to the movies on Monday?
When speaking informally, we often make use of filler words. In English there’s “like”; in Portuguese there’s tipo. As is the case with its English equivalent, this one is also extensively, but not exclusively, used by teenagers. Tipo can also be used to say “that guy”, with the female form, tipa, meaning “that gal”. Tipo is also the word for “type”.
Mixing it up with other slang:
Tipo ya... foi isso que eu lhe disse.Like yeah... that's what I told him.
Another popular term is fixe which means “cool”, but also “nice” and “good”. It can be used in a variety of ways and contexts, such as:
Ele é um tipo fixe.He's a cool guy.
A viagem foi muito fixe, adorei.The trip was really nice, I loved it.
Tens uma casa muito fixe!You have a pretty cool house!
Other Common Slang Terms
There are far too many slang terms in Portuguese to discuss them all here, but we’ve compiled some of the most popular in the table below:
|imperial (south) & fino (north)||a 20cl draft beer|
|bué & totil||a lot|
|pá & meu||man, dude|
|fixe, baril, porreiro/a, & bacano/a||cool, nice, dope or good|
|gajo, tipo, fulano, & bacano||guy, fella or man|
|gaja, tipa, fulana, & bacana||gal or woman|
|népia & nestum||nope|
|cena||thing or stuff|
|guito, massa, pastel, & carcanhol||money|
|bebedeira, chiba, bezana, & buba||drunkenness|
|brutal & altamente||awesome|
|(uma) beca||a bit|
|larica & fomeca||munchies|
|bora & bora lá||let’s go|
|malta & pessoal||group of people or friends|
|foleiro, chunga, & rasca||lame|
|canja||a piece of cake|
|briol & grizo||cold|
Slang Usage of Verbs
Slang isn’t just made up of nouns and adjectives; there are also verbs. One of the most used is ‘tar, which is a shortened version of estar.
Eu (es)tou me a sentir bem.I'm feeling good.
Eu (es)tive em casa dele.I was at his place.
You can see the clipped version of estar is the same as the verb ter (to have) in the Pretérito Perfeito (Simple Past), but the context lets us know which one is being used. We can also mix it with other slang and get:
Ya, o filme (es)tá fixe.Yeah, the film is good.
Some verbs present in gíria popular can take on a very different meaning from their literal one. For example, as slang, curtir means gostar (to like) but its literal meaning is “to tan”, as in treating animal hide and turning it into leather.
Curti bastante o filme.I liked the movie a lot.
While the verb gostar is usually followed by the preposition de, curtir can be followed by just o/a/os/as.
Another version is «Curtir com alguém» which means “to make out with someone”.
Let’s go through some other popular verbs used as slang:
|gozar||to make fun of / to kid||Eu gozei com ele. / I made fun of him. Gozaram comigo. / They made fun of me.|
|bazar||to leave||Tenho de bazar. / I have to leave. Bazei da festa. / I left the party.|
|lixar||to screw / to piss off||Estás lixado. / You’re screwed. Vai-te lixar. / Go screw yourself.|
|gamar||to steal||Fui gamado. / I was robbed. Gamei estas bolachas. / I stole these cookies.|
|sacar||to take / download||Saquei o filme. / I downloaded the movie. Ele sacou-lhe o dinheiro. / He took his money.|
Of course there are many more slang terms, as well as many ruder words, that weren’t mentioned here but that are a part of our daily conversations. Some of those will appear in a future Learning Note. 😉