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Funny Body Parts Brazilian Portuguese Idioms

Updated on May 08, 2015

Amusing Expressions and Idioms in Portuguese

There are many interesting idioms in the Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary. This time I decided to talk about some amusing expressions related to body parts.

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Pé frio

unlucky person
unlucky person

The literal translation is cold foot, but the meaning is actually very different from the popular English expression "have cold feet".

This expressions is used to describe an unlucky person.

Ex: Carmem é pé frio coitada. Sempre que ela vai à praia chove.

Poor Carmem she is unlucky. It always rains when she goes to the beach.

lucky person
lucky person

Pé quente

This one is literally the opposite of the previous one "pé frio". It means a lucky person.

Ex: Minha prima é super pé quente! Ela já ganhou na loto cinco vezes!

My cousin is very lucky. She's won the lottery five times!

Enfiar o pé na jaca

Get smashed
Get smashed

You probably have done this one few times. When you had too much drinking and was hangover, you definitely “enfiou o pé na jaca”. (Get smashed, hammered).

This origin of this expressions is very interesting; it dates back from the XVII century, but it has suffered modification over the years.

Ex: Nossa, a gente realmente enfiou o pé na jaca no fim de semana passado!

Wow, we really got smashed last weekend!

Sem pé nem cabea

nonsense
nonsense

This one is quite funny. The literal translation is “without foot or head”, but the actual meaning is: nonsense. It originates from the popular Latin expression nec caput nec pedes.

João sem braço

Another intriguing idiom.

The literal translation is: "John with no arm". Apparently it dates back from the XV-XVII centuries when Portugal was at war and people who lost limbs in combat couldn't fight and relied on others for help.

The English translation for this one is to ‘play dumb’

Dor-de-cotovelo

heartbroken
heartbroken

This is one of my favorite expressions! It translates as “elbow pain”.

It is a very popular Brazilian expression and it refers to jealousy and heartache.

Where did it come from? Try to picture a heartbroken person sitting in a bar for hours, leaning on his elbows while drinking; the result could be… an elbow pain! That’s how this idiom was created. Interesting right?

Ex: Pedro está com dor-de-cotovelo porque a namorada o deixou ontem.

Pedro is heartbroken because his girlfriend has left him yesterday.

you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours
you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours

Uma mão lava a outra

The English equivalent would be “you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours”, while the literal translation is: “one hand washes the other”.

See an example below:

Ex: Posso the ajudar com as compras, não tem problema. Uma mão lava a outra!

I can help you with shopping, there's no problem. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!

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