Why Mineiros Never Miss The Train

From their artisan cheese to their coffee and cachaça, Mineiros (residents of Minas Gerais) are well-known throughout Brazil for their food and drink. Their habits extend to not only what goes into their mouth, but what comes out of it. Let’s take a little look at two terms that Mineiros made famous: uai and trem.


There are three explanations for “uai”. The first says it derives from the 1800’s when the English built the railways in Minas, though the idea that Brits frequently said “why” as a catchphrase just doesn’t add up. The second explanation says that at the time of the Mineiro Uprising, the way to enter a conspirator’s hideout was via three knocks and the word UAI, which meant Union, Love and Independence (União, Amor e Independência). The last and, what I consider to be the most likely, is that “uai” is just a mutation of the common Paulista exclamation, “ué”.

An uncomplicated explanation of the term would simply be, “uai é uai, uai!” Agreed, uai is uai…unless, of course, you happen to be an English teacher in Minas Gerais, never knowing if your students are asking “why?” or saying “uai”.


Together with “uai”, the word “trem” (train) is frequently used by people from Minas. The origin is said to be connected, once more, with the era of the construction of the railways in the state. Being that a locomotive train was completely new to most Mineiros, they began to associate them with vehicles that transport their goods. Apparently, the word was used more to speak of the goods and objects the train carried and not solely the railroad cars themselves. In this sense, it is easy to imagine how “trem” came to signify any and every object, despite if it were being transported on a train or not.

As to the question of why Mineiros never miss the train, the answer is they never miss it because they always take it with them wherever they go!

Watch and learn (in PT)

Originally written for Street Smart Brazil


7 thoughts on “Why Mineiros Never Miss The Train

  1. Its a pleasure. You’ve written a fascinating blog.

    O/T I have used your Deolinda Mal por Mal lyrics page a number of times to find the translation for Portuguese language songs. I can’t find anything by Sabrina Malheiros there though. You wouldn’t know where I can find the lyrics for ‘Terra de Ninguem’ by Sabrina Malheiros would you?

    • Thanks again, glad to know you are enjoying the blog. I found the lyrics in PT

      Segue nessa marcha triste
      Seu caminho aflito
      Leva só saudade e a injustiça
      Que só lhe foi feita desde que nasceu
      Pelo mundo inteiro que nada lhe deu
      Anda,teu caminho é longo
      Cheio de incerteza
      Tudo é só pobreza,tudo é só tristeza
      Tudo é terra morta
      Onde a terra é boa
      O senhor é dono
      Não deixa passar
      Pára no fim da tarde
      Tomba já cansado
      Cai o nordestino
      Reza uma oração
      Pra voltar um dia
      E criar coragem
      Pra poder lutar pelo que é seu
      Mas,um dia vai chegar
      Que o mundo vai saber
      Não se vive sem se dar
      Quem trabalha é quem tem
      Direito de viver
      Pois a terra é de ninguém

      And the Google Translate version which is so-so…

      Follow this sad march
      Its way afflicted
      It takes just misses and injustice
      What has been done only since birth
      All over the world that nothing has
      Come on, your journey is over
      Full of uncertainty
      Everything is just poverty, it’s just sad
      Everything is dead land
      Where land is good
      You are owner
      Do not miss
      Stops in the evening
      Tomba already tired
      Falls Northeast
      Pray a prayer
      To come back one day
      And take courage
      To be able to fight for what is his
      But a day will come
      That the world will know
      No one lives without being
      Who is who has worked
      Right to live
      For the land is of no one

  2. Oii Adam , como esta vc??? Adorei o seu artigo sobre Minas…. para qual cidade vc foi em Minas?? T enviei alguns emails… me responde estou no Brasil agora . Ate mais
    Carine Dias

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