10 Portuguese sayings that will make you laugh out loud

Every language has its own traditional sayings. But if you ever visit Portuguese and start to understand our language, you will probably find some of the most typical Portuguese sayings very funny indeed.

  1. Desenmerda-te

(Unshit yourself)

If someone says this to you, they are simply telling you to be unleashed and to un-do your own mess. It is a funny and somehow respectful phrase. Since Portuguese people are  very practical people, you will probably hear it a lot because we often simplify things to get them done easily and quickly.

  1. Ir com os porcos

(Go with the pigs)

You were told to go with the pigs?  You were basically asked to go and die far away. But do not worry! We don’t mean it literally, we say this a lot between friends when someone is being annoying or upsetting us for some reason. If used in the past tense, it means someone got themselves in big trouble. Portuguese people have a dark sense of humour, don’t you think?

  1. Ter a pulga atrás da orelha

(Having a flea behind the ear)

To have a flea behind the ear means to be suspicious or distrust something. It’s an informal way to say that the story doesn’t seem to match up to the reality, and that they don’t really believe in what is in doubt.

  1. Barata Tonta

(Dizzy cockroach)

If someone calls you a ‘dizzy cockroach’ they are saying that you are being unfocused or clumsy, moving or acting like a crazy person. This can be used if a person is really busy doing something or they are in a real hurry. People in Portugal often seem to be dizzy cockroaches, unless they are from Alentejo – an area near the Algarve known for its hot weather and slow pace of life.

  1. Acordar com os pés de fora OR Estar com os azeites

(Wake up with the feet outside / Being with the olives)

These two Portuguese sayings are generally used when someone wakes up in a bad mood or is being snappy for some reason.

  1. Muitos anos a virar frangos

(Many years turning chickens)

When someone says that they have had many years turning chickens, what they mean to say is that they have gained a lot of experience and knowledge throughout their life. It is a humorous expression. Though really, the phrase would be better with fish, since Portugal has a history as fisherman and discoveries.

  1. Macaquinhos na cabeça

(Little monkeys in the head)

If someone tells you that they have little monkeys in their head or that you have them, either one of you is having strange and suspicious thoughts or being insecure and anxious about some situation.

  1. Pentear macacos OR Vai chatear Camões

(Comb monkeys OR go bother Camões)

If you are told to go comb monkeys or to go bother Camões, you are being politely asked to go and bother someone else and leave the person speaking to you alone! In case you don’t know, Camões was a very well-known Portuguese poetry writer from the 16th century that wrote the Portuguese famous book called “Os Lusíadas”, which tells the story of Portugal.

  1. Engolir sapos

(swallow frogs)

I believe it might be unpleasant to swallow a frog, which is probably why this saying is used when you have to shut up and accept unpleasant things with no other choice.

  1. Pão pão, queijo queijo

(Bread bread, cheese cheese)

Portugal people are really simple and practical. When you hear “bread bread, cheese cheese” you are probably mixing up something that shouldn’t be mixed or confused. This phrase means to communicate to you that “it’s this simple, as bread is bread and cheese is cheese”.

Found these Portuguese sayings funny? Next time you’re in Portugal, do not forget to take some time to learn a little bit more of this interesting language with our One Day Portuguese courses so you can spread these funny sayings with your friends!



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