Cross My Heart… – Phrases

In English, we have a phrase that goes “Cross my heart, hope to die(, stick a needle in my eye)” which acts as a way to convey trust. In Brazil, it’s not so literal but there is a comparable phrase. Before I get to it, another English phrase is “I swear on my (insert relative here)’s grave” which means the same. In Brazil, one swears on the health of someone important to them.

Ex. I swear! Cross my heart, hope to die.
Ex. Eu juro! Pela saúde da minha mãe.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be one’s mother. You can also say “juro por Deus” (like “I swear to God”).

Informal Portuguese – Come here!/Go away!

“There are four ways to say “come here!” in Portuguese. There’s “chega aqui”, “chega aí”, even though ‘aí’ technically means ‘there’ (within proximity). The other two ways are “vem ca” and “vem pra ca”. If you wish to add some color to the phrase, just repeat the verb at the end, such as “vem pra ca, vem?”

“Lots of ways to say “go away!” in Portuguese. There’s “sai!”, “sai daqui” (get out of here), “sai fora” and “cai fora”. One slang term would be “vaza!” from the verb “vazar” (to leak) and a clever way to tell someone to buzz off would be “vai ver se eu estou na esquina” (go see if I’m on the corner). That’s about it.”

Informal Portuguese – To Clean/Limpar

Most people know the verb ‘limpar’ (to clean) but I wanted to give two other ways to say ‘clean’ which I think are more popular than ‘limpar’ itself. Both of these following phrases can be used with the verbs ‘dar’ (to give) or ‘fazer’ (to do/make). Eu vou fazer/dar uma faxina (if that word is new to you, it means remove dirt, cleanse). Eu vou dar/fazer uma geral (literally, general…which can be seen as ‘general clean-up’ in this case). Once again, these two informal phrases don’t have to be used with physical spaces, as they mean to clean up or tidy up anything in general.

The Parlance of the Paraense

I recently picked a state to study and now I’m trying to learn about it, thus a slight bias towards topics having to do with the state of Pará. In the end though, what’s interesting is what’s interesting…Below I’ll translate the story from online magazine Re-vista! of a carioca living in Belém and all the interesting instances of the Paraense parlance. First, I’ll introduce a saying that wasn’t included in the article below. “Quem vai ao Pará, parou, tomou açaí, ficou!” (roughly “Who goes to Pará, stops, has açaí and stays!”).

“To live in another Brazilian city, when its so far from where you come from, makes us come face to face with the differences in customs and principally, in vocabulary.

Every once in awhile, my friends take notice of some words I use which are unknown to them. This happened with ‘hangar’, which is called ‘cruzeta’ here, and on it goes… I have fun with this, honestly.

Thus why I decided to make a small dictionary for you all to get to know some of the differences.

· The unsupportable carioca MOSQUITOS are known in the North of Brazil as ‘carapanãs’. One can find this even on the mosquito repelents;

· The good ol’ LAGARTIXA (lizard), apart from being called here by the very strange name of ‘osga’, is commonly “assassinated”. Here, it’s believed that they attack humans and suck their blood! Because of this, they are done in just like the cockroaches: by a few whacks of the sandal. I thought it must be just an old wives tale but when I called a company that deals in pesticides, they came at me with the same kind of talk;

· The nice LAVADEIRAS (laundry women) that also are known as ‘louva-deus’ in Rio, are curiously called ‘jacinta’ around here;

· In the markets and butchershops of Belém, it’s impossible to buy CARNE MOÍDA (ground beef), even though they have meat grinders. And if you were to ask for this, the attendant will just give you the strangest look, almost as if he’s looking at an alien. Ground beef here is ‘carne picadinha’, just as ground as any other, but they don’t call it so.

Apart from the different names, there are expressions that also cause estrangement to us, foreigners. One very common expression used by belemenses (people from Belém) is ‘pior’. Everything is ‘pior’! However, not in a bad way. It’s equivalent to ‘puxa’ or ‘putz’ or the famous carioca ‘pô’. An exclamation: ‘Pior!’.

Have I already spoken about the very famous ‘égua!’?! It’s another exclamation which is very, very used around here. It’s a typical slang for the paraense (people form Pará), which is one way to call the locals and it’s stamped on the tourist t-shirts too…I already tried to investigate its origin but the closest I came was that it’s a reduction of  ‘pai d’égua’, the original expression. That being said, there’s no real consensus as to where the original expression came from. What is known is that both expressions are very much used to define something good. For example: a supermarket chain uses it in its adverts saying ‘promoção pai d’égua’, which would mean its a damned good discount, can’t be missed…But the ‘égua’ alone, which became its own generic exclamation, also serves for bad things. If someone takes a tumble on the sidewalk or if you tell a belemense some bad news, certainly you’ll hear them say ‘ééégua!’.

Another word I still don’t quite understand the meaning of is ‘arredar’. You want to haul something? Then you are going to ‘arredar’. If you are going to prepare, do, resolve, clean…Anything can become ‘arredar’. Example: ‘arredei’ the seat. Example two: I’m going to ‘arredar’ the fridge (meaning you’ll clean and organize it). Crazy, huh?

And there are names of places that are unforgettable. Ever imagined a neighborhood called ‘Telégrafo sem fio’? Well yeah, here in Belém there’s one and its affectionately called ‘Telégrafo’ to those who know it well. And what exactly would you call someone born in ‘Além Quer’? Well, believe it or not, there’s a city with this name in Pará.

Speaking of being born…Who is born in Belém is known as either belemense (with M) or belenense (with N). I discovered that both are possible and correct. You must have seen both being used before. But the belemenses have another name too: papa-chibé. Everyone that was born here is called this. Chibé is farinha, something the local population loves to use. It seems the little joke also has an indigenous origin too…Above all, when I think that my daughter will be called a papa-chibé, I lose all will to continue writing…Ay, ay, my departed carioca heart! Ay, ay…

Being as I am, a good carioca, FUI! (lit. ‘I went’, otherwise meaning ‘I’m done with the conversation’)”

If you are a native of Pará, perhaps you’ve noticed a few things that need correcting in her story…the commentators on the original story had a few corrections, etc to say, which I’ll also translate below.

Claudia Melo: (partial) The good ol’ LAGARTIXA, never was “assassinated” at home. After all, the eat ‘carapanã’…so, they are always welcome. Speaking of being welcome, they came to Brazil in the time of slavery, on the so-called slave ships, and they adapted in such a way that today there isn’t a single house in the country which doesn’t have a little ‘osga’…in spite of there being one where I lived which one day never reappeared…I liked her so much, I even called her by the name of Rose.

Viviane: Hi! I found your article to be very cool because it’s proof that within the same country, we have such different customs and we actually live these differences! I am a paraense, I live in Belém in the district of Icoaraci (meaning ‘facing the sun’), I’m a professor and I was looking around on the internet when I came across your article. How nice that you got to know a little of what makes a paraense, we are all papa-chibés of the círio de Nazaré, of açaí, of tacacá, of the afternoon rainfall and of a magnificent vocabulary. Did you know that the Icoracienses (people from the district) are called ’round feet’? It’s because around here, we always get around by bicycle.

A big hug for you, true carioca

Luiz Carlos: Hello, Daniele.

They call me Luiz. I’m from Belém, but I currently reside in Foz do Iguaçu – PR.

The language utilized in Belém is very similar to that which is used in specific locations in Brazil, to cite a few: Rio de Janeiro and Florianópolis, including the hiss upon speaking.

What unites us is the typical Portuguese colonization.
Example: Alenquer, aside from being a paraense city, is also a Portuguese city, just like Santarém, Ourém, Óbidos, Alter do Chão, Almeirim, Vigia, Bragança, Viseu, Portel, Benevides, Faro and Belém itself. All of the cities with these names are in homage to the homonymic Lusitanians.

‘Osga’ and ‘arredar’ can be located in the dictionary. They are very much used within the region due to the influence of the Portuguese colonization.
The ‘Pai d’égua’ was introduced, with due respect, by the cearenses (people form the state of Ceará) which arrived here in search of new opportunities.
The ‘louva-a-deus’, in Pará, is called ‘põe-a-mesa’. And as for ‘jacinta’, it actually means ‘libélula’ (dragonfly).

Brazil is imense. Brazilian culture is rich. The memory is the weak point.

Another thing: Belemense is for who was born in Belém do Pará and Belenense is for who was born in Belém in Portugal. As well as who was born in Belém in the West Bank, is called a Belemita.

Living and learning …

Encouraging Words in Portuguese

Here are a few ways to be behind someone, to support them, cheer them on in Portuguese.


Good job! – Bom trabalho! Beleza! Beleza de trabalho, cara! 

Keep going! – Vamos lá! Força! Manda brasa! Vai na fé! Vai fundo! Continua assim!

You’re almost there! – Está quase lá!

I’m with you! – Estou contigo!

Way to go! – É isso aí (closest I can think of). É assim mesmo!

You’re doing just fine! – Você está indo bem!

You did great! – Mandou bem! Muito bem! Botou pra quebrar!


To be behind someone or to be rooting/cheering for them, is said with the verb torcer in Portuguese. 

Ex. Estou torcendo por você! or Torço por você!