Being Bad in Portuguese

Good and Bad can be confusing in Portuguese, so I thought I’d lay it all out for anyone wishing to understand the differences. I’m going to lead with ‘bad’.

Bad (mau) is an adjective that means “the opposite of good (bom)”. For ex., mau comportamento (bad behavior), mau patrão (bad employer), mau caráter (bad character). Keep in mind though mau is masculine while is feminine. Likewise, the feminine of bom is boa.

Mau vs. Bom
Má vs. Boa

Bad (mal) is an adverb of mode, contrary to “good (bem)”. It must be employed together with the verb or adjective. For ex, mal-estar (uneasiness), mal-educado (badly educated/behaved), etc.

Mal vs. Bem

Hope that helps!

Random Portuguese Lesson

I’ve been saving little by little random expressions, etc on my computer in order to make another Portuguese language post. Here goes it…

Imagina! – Literally, ‘imagine!’ but it is used mostly as ‘don’t mention it!’ or ‘don’t be silly’.

Mó/Maior – Mó is slang for Maior (largest/biggest), the opposite being Menor (smallest, etc). The twist is that they have entered into expressions such as “tem maior sol hoje” (lit. the sun is the biggest today, basically its really hot today). A popular expression with Mó is Mó barato (maior barato) which lit. means ‘the biggest cool’ yet in everyday language is ‘very cool’. Barato is slang too, normally it means cheap but according to a source of mine, it comes from drug culture where mó barato meant ‘a great trip’.

Mão Boba – Silly/Dummy hand and it means your hand ‘accidentally’ passed over someone else’s private parts. Basically taking advantage of a situation where you could get away with it.

Craque – Usually pertaining to futebol, meaning a star player, someone who is really good at futebol…but in recent times it can be given to anyone who is good at anything. I’m told it can mean the drug too.

Ser chegado em – Similar to a phrase I wrote about in the past (Estar a fim de), meaning you are down for something. Ser chegado em algo though has more to do with personality and not how you feel in the moment. Ex. Não sou chegado em futebol = I’m not one for (watching/playing/etc) soccer.

Negócio/Parada – Negócio means business but its slang for any unnamed object. Parada holds the same meaning too although used more in Rio.

Língua Mãe vs. Língua Materna – The two are sometimes confused. Língua Mãe means mother language while Língua Materna means maternal language. Specifically língua mãe should be used to speak of the main language from which others developed, while língua materna should be used to speak of your first language.

Nao Esquenta – Lit. Don’t heat up. In popular speech, it means ‘don’t get worked up’ or ‘calm down’ or ‘don’t worry’.

Mauricinho/Patricinha/Playboy – The two words are the male and female variety of someone born with a silver spoon, hauty-tauty, etc. Playboy is a word for a wanna be Mauricinho, although mainly a womanizer.

Galinha/Safado/Cachorro – Galinha lit. means chicken but as slang it means a guy who gets around (ie, not faithful). Safado means someone with a dirty mind, so to speak. Cachorro is a dog, lit. and fig.

Capenga/Coxo/Desajeitado – The first two words mean crippled. The last word means deformed.

Jangada, Juba – These are just two words I like, they have no connection. Jangada means a raft. Juba is a mane, such as that which a lion would have.

Seu… – Lit. means ‘your’ but it is also a way to address a man in a respectful way. If my name was Carlos, I would be Seu Carlos. Also of note, Seu… can be used in a creative way when angry at (or making fun of) someone. Seu Idiota!

Mar/Maré – Mar is sea. Maré is tide.

Bêbado/Embriagado/Perder a Linha – Three ways to say ‘drunk’. Bêbado being the most commonly heard. Embriagado is a little more formal, meaning intoxicated. Perder a linha means to have crossed the line into complete drunkenness.

Mourão, Mourão – Similarly, there is a saying with losing a tooth as a child. It goes like this…”Mourão, Mourão, Tome este dente podre, e me dê outro são!” (take this rotten tooth and give me another thats sane!). After you say the phrase, you throw your tooth on the roof. More on the story behind this can be found here (in Portuguese).

Prece/Oração/Reza – All three mean ‘prayer’.

Devagar/Vagar/Vagabundo – Vagar is a verb I heard in a Brazilian period piece (film) which I took to mean ‘to wander/roam’. I’m not sure as to its popularity these days but I also took it to be the root of ‘slow’ in Portuguese (devagar…which would be ‘de vagar’). I’m also taking a leap to connect it to the word for bum or wanderer (Vagabundo).