16 Brazilian Slang Words to Speak Like a Native [With Pronunciation]
If you plan to visit Brazil, you’ll need to interact with the locals.
You’ll also be exposed to a lot of Brazilian slang words and colloquialisms that sound completely nonsensical to the untrained ear.
Here, I’ll teach you 16 Brazilian slang words from São Paulo accompanied by audio pronunciation and example sentences to help you sound like a native speaker!
- 1. E aí?
- 2. Bacana
- 3. Tá bom?
- 4. Beleza
- 5. Joia
- 6. Cara
- 7. Gato / Gata
- 8. Foi mal
- 9. Falou
- 10. Valeu
- 11. Cabeça-dura
- 12. Mandar-se
- 13. Rolar
- 14. Topar
- 15. Pisar na bola
- 16. Pão-duro
- Why Is Learning Local Slang So Important?
- How to Learn Brazilian Slang
1. E aí?
E aí? is quite a colloquial way of saying “hi.” It’s pretty much like saying “what’s up?” in English.
E aí pessoal? — What’s up guys?
The word bacana means “good,” “cool” or “awesome.” You might hear someone exclaim Que bacana! (That’s awesome!) when they hear about your latest Brazilian travel plans.
It’s generally used by Brazilians to describe something cool they’ve encountered recently.
Esse projeto é muito bacana. — This is a really cool project.
3. Tá bom?
A loose translation for tá bom? is “all good?” It’s a way of asking if someone agrees or is okay with a proposition.
We’ve used the exclamation form here, but tá bom can also be used as an affirmation—to express that you agree with something.
It’s also quite common to leave the word bom (good) out completely and just use tá .
Amanhã a gente conversa sobre isso, tá bom? — We’ll talk about it tomorrow, okay?
Tá. — All right.
In a literal sense, beleza means “beauty” but in colloquial speech it’s commonly used to show agreement.
Occasionally, you might hear someone sarcastically utter Que beleza (wonderful) to express disdain about something they’ve seen or experienced—but for the most part, beleza is a positive term.
Vamos ao cinema amanhã? — Do you want to go the cinema tomorrow?
Beleza, te encontro às 5h. — Okay, I’ll meet you at 5 p.m.
Another way of showing agreement. The literal translation for joia is “jewel” but Brazilians use it to express that they’re on board with something (the same as with beleza) or to tell someone that they’re well.
Tudo bem? — How are you?
Tudo joia! — I’m great!
Cara is colloquially used to mean “face” but it’s also slang used to talk about a guy or a man.
We’ll provide a few examples that showcase both senses.
Esse cara é louco. — This guy’s crazy.
Ela me deu um tapa na cara. — She slapped me in the face.
Cara, a prova foi muito difícil. — Man, that test was really hard.
7. Gato / Gata
For the unprepared, hearing someone described as a “cat” (gato) might sound a little weird. But in Brazil, that’s how people describe someone who’s “hot” or good looking.
O ator principal dessa novela é um gato. — The leading man in this TV soap is very attractive.
(Cultural tip: Brazilian soaps/TV dramas are very popular both locally and abroad. You should definitely take a look at few if you want to learn about what makes the society tick and to hear some of the colloquial language we’ve mentioned thus far being put into good use).
8. Foi mal
In English, someone might say “My bad!” when they’ve made an obvious blunder. The Brazilian Portuguese alternative is foi mal.
Ops, foi mal! Não era pra fazer isso! — Oops, my bad! I wasn’t meant to do that!
Falou comes from the past tense of the verb falar (to talk or to say).
As a slang word, falou is used in a similar manner to tá bom —it’s a way of saying “okay,” in both an interrogative manner and as an affirmation.
Again, we’ll provide a few examples for this one.
Amanhã eu te passo os detalhes, falou? — I’ll send you the details tomorrow, all right?
Te vejo no sábado às 10h. — I’ll see you on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Falou, até lá. — Okay, see you then.
This is one of the most popular slang words in Brazil. Valeu comes from the past tense of the verb valer (to be worth something). Colloquially, valeu is commonly used in many different situations to say thanks in place of obrigado / obrigada (thanks).
Aqui está. — Here you go.
Valeu! — Thanks!
Literally a “hard-head,” cabeça-dura is a phrase that describes someone who’s very stubborn or stuck in their ways.
João é um cabeça-dura, ele nunca vai mudar. — João is very stubborn, he’ll never change.
A colloquial verb that’s best translated as “to get out.”
It can be used in an imperative manner (as in, to command someone to leave) or in a descriptive sense to talk about your own pursuits of leaving a place where you don’t want to be.
Se manda daqui! — Get out of here!
Vou me mandar para as ilhas do Caribe nesse inverno. — I’m setting off for the Caribbean islands this winter.
Esse lugar é muito perigoso, vou me mandar daqui. — This is a really dangerous place, I’m getting out of here.
You might be able to guess the literal meaning of this one: rolar is the infinitive of the verb “to roll.” But it’s not used in the same way as the English-language “let’s roll.” Rather, Brazilians use rolar to talk about an event—in the past, present or future.
Vai rolar uma festa na casa do Lucas amanhã. — There’s going to be a party at Lucas’ place tomorrow
Rola um churrasco esse fim de semana? — Shall we have a barbecue over the weekend?
This is quite a straightforward one to learn: topar is a colloquial verb that means “to agree” or “to accept” to do something.
Ele topou me ajudar com o meu dever de casa. — He agreed to help me with my homework.
15. Pisar na bola
Literally translated as “stepping on the ball,” pisar na bola describes a situation when someone messes up, makes a mistake or lets someone down.
Sua irmã pisou na bola feio comigo. — Your sister really let me down.
Se você pisar na bola de novo, está fora do time. — If you mess up once again, you’re off the team.
In Brazilian Portuguese someone who’s a “hard-bread” (pão-duro) is a miserly scrooge—in other words, a very frugal and stingy person.
Esse cara é um pão-duro. — This guy’s a scrooge.
Why Is Learning Local Slang So Important?
Simply put, slang is an essential part of vocabulary-building. Formal phrases, grammar rules and sentence construction are all vitally important—but language-learning needs to go beyond the textbook essentials to see how everything actually comes together in everyday interactions.
The more native content you incorporate into your learning, the faster your path to fluency will be.
Note that the slang words in this post are most commonly used in São Paulo, Brazil. As Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world by area with 26 states and one federal district, each state has its own slang words and expressions.
This is also the reason why watching Brazilian movies, listening to local music and reading literature are recommended language-learning methods, as they allow you to see the language used in context by native speakers.
FluentU uses authentic Brazilian Portuguese videos, like movie clips, music videos and news, to immerse you in the language. These videos are a great way to see Portuguese being used by native speakers of the language, enabling you to pick up Brazilian slang naturally. Each video comes with interactive subtitles that explain words in context.
You can use FluentU on your browser or download the iOS or Android app to learn wherever you are.
Slang is just one of the many facets of Brazilian Portuguese that you’ll need to learn in order to achieve true fluency.
How to Learn Brazilian Slang
There are so many ways to learn Brazilian slang, from apps and online resources to language exchanges.
Google and YouTube are both great resources for learning slang: Simply look for authentic Brazilian content. Intermediate to advanced speakers can also consult the Dicionário inFormal to get new leads on colloquialisms—just keep in mind that all definitions provided are in Portuguese.
Once you’ve compiled a list of slang terms, enter each new term into your preferred dictionary app to check its meaning and click the audio button to hear how it’s meant to sound. That’s your cue to repeat the words to yourself a few times so you can get the pronunciation right.
As you gain more confidence with your newly acquired lingo, you’ll want to start incorporating it into real-life exchanges. You don’t have to go all the way to Brazil to do this: Finding someone to talk to can be as easy as going to Brazilian Portuguese language exchange Meetups in your area or signing up for an online language partner service like Tandem or HelloTalk.
The more vocabulary words you learn, colloquial or otherwise, the easier it’ll be to form patterns and sentences like a native Brazilian speaker.
So go forth, keep practicing and don’t forget to put all these great phrases to good use with your other study materials.
Boa sorte! (Good luck!)