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15 Extraordinary Brazilian Portuguese Terms Inspired by Soccer

Updated on March 30, 2016

Ever since the British introduced football (soccer), Brazilians have been obsessed with the sport. It is part of the life of practically all their citizens, and the country is affectionately known as “o país do futebol“ (the country of soccer).

The sport has its own creative lexicon, and some expressions became so popular that have been incorporated into the everyday colloquial Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary. So if don’t want dar bola fora* and want to speak Portuguese like a native, take a note of these terms!

Mão furada


"Pierced hand" is the literal translation of this popular expression, but the real meaning is butterfingers. It was first used in soccer when a goalkeeper doesn’t catch the ball. The expression became catchy and adopted in the colloquial Brazilian vocabulary.

Pisar na bola

Drop the ball
Drop the ball

Another very common phrase in Brazil, which shares the same meaning and other similarities with the American phrase “drop the ball”. Both of them come from sports; the Brazilian idiom obviously from soccer. It translates as step on the ball.

(Dar) Bola fora*

You don't want to "dar bola fola" during your stay in Brazil, so remember this one. It means to make foolish tactless remarks, and there are many fun synonyms for this term such as comer bola, dar um fora, pagar mico, etc.

Dar bola

Flirting | Source

In soccer the players have to pass the ball to another player on the team, in order to try to score a goal quickly. If you are passing a ball to a girl, it means you’re flirting with her. This is a good expression to know next time you go to Brazil.

Baixar a bola

Stuck up, pretentious
Stuck up, pretentious

Take notice of this one. If someone tells you “baixa a bola” (lower the ball) it means you are probably being a bit stuck-up and pretentious, and they are telling you to stop being so full of yourself.

(Estar com a) Bola cheia/toda

Winning streak
Winning streak

If a Brazilian tells you: “você está com a bola cheia” be happy! It’s a compliment. He doesn’t mean to say you have a full ball – which is the literal translation - he is actually saying you are on a Winning streak, or that you're doing very well on a task. In soccer this phrase means a very good player.

(Estar com a) Bola murcha

Loosing streak
Loosing streak

This phrase is exactly the opposite of “bola cheia”, and it indicates a gloomy person. In soccer “bola murcha” is a bad player, and the term is not short of synonyms in the game's rich vocabulary.

Acertar na trave

Literal translation: to hit the goal post or to rattle the frame. Brazilians use this expression in a situation when you guessed something almost correctly. You were very close, but… didn’t hit the mark.

Pendurar as chuteiras

To retire
To retire

Another interesting and widely used phrase throughout Brazil, which translates as to “hang up your soccer shoes” but it means to retire.

Tirar o time de campo

To “take the team out of the field” means in Portuguese to give up on something, pull out or drop out depending on context.

Bater um bolão

In soccer this expression is used to refer to a very good player/team, but if you see a pretty woman or a handsome man in the beaches of Rio de Janeiro you can also say: “Ele/ela bate um bolão!“

Vestir a camisa

“To wear the jersey of your team”, is to go above and beyond, do the best for a company you work for, a project you’re working on, or a task you’re committed to.

Bola pra frente

This is a very popular encouraging expression in Brazil, equivalent to “move on” in English. The literal translation is “ball forward”.


To guess
To guess

In Brazil when you are asked to guess something, you can use the verb “to kick” as in kick a soccer ball. Ex: Can you guess where I am from? “Sabe de onde eu sou? Chuta!”

Show de bola


This is a relatively new expression extracted from soccer for an outstanding performance. The term quickly became very popular and is now used for anything that is awesome. Nowadays some Brazilians simple say: “show”.

What is your favorite Brazilian soccer expression?

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Submit a Comment

  • lidialbuquerque profile image

    lidialbuquerque 22 months ago

    Thank you so much for your comment @chef-de-jour! I am very happy that you found it informative! And you haven't made a bola fora at all!! It was actually a "bola dentro"!! ;)

  • chef-de-jour profile image

    Andrew Spacey 22 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for educating me! Again. Some interesting phrases you've highlighted.

    I love the futebol of Brazil, (despite their losing to the Germans in the last world cup - I was in Sao Paulo for that!) and am not surprised they use many football related terms in everyday conversation. And I hope I haven't made a dar bola fola by writing this comment.