Any language has it’s own idiosyncratic expressions, useful to anyone who wants to dive into the language in order to be more fluent, and to speak as if they were a native.


Here are some expressions that Portuguese people use everyday. You too can learn them and hopefully they will make you laugh a little in the process.


I’ve gathered a small selection here and, of course, you can discover much more... because you have the power.


Let’s begin then!


Meter o nariz onde não é chamado


If I translated this directly you would think that us Portuguese people were crazy. You don’t believe me? What if I told you that this expression means “to put the nose where it isn’t called” in English?


Strange, isn’t it? However, if I told you that this expression actually meant “to intrude yourself in matters that you don’t have anything to do with,” it would be simple, right?




  • João, andas sempre a meter o nariz onde não és chamado!
  • John, you’re always poking your nose in where you’re not supposed to!




This means that João likes to be nosey, and interfere in other people’s affairs.


Ter a barriga a dar horas


This one is also quite funny: “having your belly telling the time.” No, Portuguese bellies don’t have built-in clocks!! The true meaning is “to be very hungry.”




  • Mãe, tenho a barriga a dar horas!” diz o Pedro.
  • “Mummy, I’m so hungry that I could eat an ox,” said Pedro.




This means that Pedro is saying that he is almost starving; he needs to eat as soon as possible because he is so hungry!


Cair no conto do vigário


Are you sure that you want to continue laughing? Yes? So, here we go with this one: “to fall in the priest tale.” Gosh, that’s so odd!!


Now, if I were to tell you that the meaning was “to be cheated or misled,” that would make a lot more sense wouldn’t it?




  • Não me digas que acreditaste no que ele disse, tu caiste foi no conto do vigário.
  • Don’t you tell me that you believed what he said! You’ve been cheated/misled.




This means that the person believed all of what someone else told them, and was completely misled.


Ser um agarrado


“To be stuck.” Does this one makes sense? Hmm... it could, but to us it makes more sense when we want to say that “a person is too stingy” or that “he doesn’t spend much money on things.”





  • Bolas! Nunca me pagas nada, tu és um agarrado!
  • Dammit! You never pay for anything, you’re such a tight person.




This means that the person never pays anything to anyone, and tries to spend as little money as is humanly possible.


Abrir o jogo


I will “open the game!” No, no, no. It could be as simple as that, but again you are quite far from the actual meaning. Do you dare discover it?


“To tell the truth” or “to reveal something that you hide.” Yes, it is as simple as that, but is quite interesting though:




  • Deixa-te de coisas! Anda lá, abre o jogo!
  • C’mon! Tell me! Open yourself up!




This means that one person is trying to get the other person to reveal something. It can be a secret, some gossip, or even the truth about a certain matter.


Acordar com os pés fora da cama


The last one, but certainly not the least, and perhaps even the strangest one! “To wake up with your feet outside the bed.” Yes, you’re reading is correct. However, the actual meaning is far from what you have just read:


The actual meaning is “to wake up upset or in a bad mood.” Simple, isn’t it?




  • Não te consigo aturar, parece que acordaste com os pés de fora!
  • I can’t stand you! It seems that you woke up in a bad mood today!




This means that one person can’t stand the other; that other person is too upset and/or in too much of a bad mood to deal with.


Now that I have caught your attention, and you have had an enjoyable time laughing and learning, I dare you to dive in into the Portuguese language: fun, widely spoken and with a rich culture. What more do you need?


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