Portuguese Slang

Gíria

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 slang comes in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common words.

Ya

Ya, eu vou ter convosco Yeah, I'll meet you guys
Ya – also found written as – 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, ! I don't know, man!
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.
... 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.

Meu

Não sei, meu I don't know, man
The pronoun meu , which means mine, can also be used to say man or dude and appears in most of the same contexts as . Since it’s masculine, it’s used when speaking to a male.

Tipo

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

Fixe

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 below:

  • a imperial 20cl draft beer in the South o fino 20cl draft beer in the North
  • bué a lot
  • man, dude interjection meu man, dude interjection
  • fixe cool, awesomebaril cool, awesome
  • porreiro cool, awesome mascporreira cool, awesome fem
  • o bacano cool, awesome masca bacana cool, awesome fem
  • o gajo guy, fella o tipo guy, fella
  • o fulano guy, fellao bacano guy, fella
  • a tipa gal, chick womana fulana gal, chick woman
  • a bacana gal, chick womana gaja gal, chick warning: offensive!
  • népia nope
  • a cena thing, stuff, scene literal
  • o guito moneya massa moneyo carcanhol money
  • a bebedeira drunkennessa bezana drunkennessa buba drunkenness
  • brutal awesomealtamente awesome
  • uma beca a bit
  • a larica munchiesa fomeca munchies
  • bora let's gobora lá let's go
  • a malta group of people or friendso pessoal group of people or friends
  • a boleia ride
  • foleiro lamechunga lamerasca lame
  • canja a piece of cake i.e. very easy
  • o briol coldo grizo cold

Slang Usage of Verbs

‘Tar

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 to betemporary.
Eu (es)tou me a sentir bem I'm feeling good
Eu (es)tive em casa dele I was at his place
Notice that the clipped version of estar is the same as the verb ter to have in the simple past tense, 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) fixe Yeah, the film is good

Curtir

Some verbs present in gíria popular can take on a very different meaning from their literal one. For example, as slang, curtir to tanleather, to likeslang 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 To make out with someone slang

Other popular verbs used as slang

Verb Examples
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 off Estás lixado You're screwed Vai-te lixar Screw off
gamar to steal Fui gamado I was robbed Gamei estas bolachas I stole these cookies
sacar to take, download Ele sacou-lhe o dinheiro He took his money Saquei o filme I downloaded the movie

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. 😉

Comments:

  • Ahhhhh! And I thought ‘Ta’ was a specific word!!! I have been using it, as I hear it spoken, so now I know! Very useful, thankyou.

  • Canja – A piece o cake. In the uk we have a saying “It’s a piece of cake”, meaning I’ts really easy. Does Canja have the same connotation – É muito façil, or is it really Uma fatia de bolo?

    • Thanks for asking – I see that that wasn’t clear before 🙂 This is definitely “canja” as in “very easy” -> “Oh, isto é canja!” (Oh, this is really easy!).

      The actual word “canja” is for a type of soup, not cake!

  • I am in my second year of living in the rural north of Portugal. Finding this section on ‘Gíria’ will help me immensely. I will now be able to better understand my neighbours. Having studied Portuguese for some time now I thought they were speaking a different language!!

    • Hi, Laurent! “Lixado” is one of those rainbow words with lots of different possible colours depending on the context – and that’s true for any part of the country 🙂 You can use it to mean that you’re exhausted, that you’re screwed, that you’re a badass, etc.

  • Excellent summation PP.
    The most important for me was to learn that “uma imperial” is mainly southern. I therefore committed two sins when I was in Braga. I asked for “uma imperial” ………of Sagres!!

  • Do you know if there are other more extensive pages on learning Portuguese slang? I’m trying to translate some songs but it seems there’s a lot of words I’m not getting. I could only assume it’s because of slang haha

    • Hmm, I don’t know of any, but I will let you know if I come across something. If you’re a member, you could try asking in our forum: https://forum.practiceportuguese.com/ as that’s usually a good place to get recommendations on things like this. We also have a unit that lets you practice these slang terms. Let me know if there are particular words/phrases you’re looking for and we could work on adding more to our content.

  • Thank you for letting me know. I thought so but I think it’s probably ok to throw it in some slang expression now and then. We just shouldn’t over do it!

  • We have used a particular local handyman for some time and he regularly says Epá, and I have often wondered what it meant – now I now!!

  • Thanks for this – very helpful! I’ve heard “”ta bem” said numerous times without realising it comes from estar! Also “ta cá” which I couldn’t work out at all, now I gather it means “you’re here”?

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