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Although strongly repressed by many, swear words certainly serve a purpose in human relationships and society at large – they are a powerful means of emotional release and human expression.
In certain contexts, swear words also connects people in meaningful ways. As a language learner, learning how and when to use Portuguese strong language can lead to deeper bonding with native speakers and, consequently, language immersion. In that sense, it can benefit your language learning.
The purpose of this post is not to instigate unwarranted verbal unpleasantness. Instead, it is meant to give you insight into different nuances of Portuguese strong language and situations in which you could use it in a smart and humorous way without offending or hurting anyone.
See, strong language is often used in positive ways, especially among friends while telling jokes and spending a good time together. Knowing how and when to swear makes you more relatable to native speakers, not least when taking part in relaxed social settings.
Welcome to this indecorous but nonetheless pedagogic journey through Portuguese bad words.
! From this point on, this article contains strong language and content that may be offensive or inappropriate for some readers.
Right off the bat, here’s a list with some of the most hard-core Portuguese swearing expressions people can say to vent their frustration:
- foda-se (fuck it)
- caralho (damn it)
- puta que pariu (fuck it)
- filho da puta (son of a bitch)
- merda (shit)
- porra (damn it)
- puta de merda (fuck it)
- raios me fodam (fuck me)
Of course, not all swear words are created equally rough nor we use them only when we get pissed. There’s much more to it. Read on.
- Why do we swear?
- Portuguese swear words
Why do we swear?
Often regarded as rude and impolite, many believe that swear words find their home among the uneducated and people living on the fringes of society.
The truth is, however, that people use strong language across the entire social strata, and there might be a good reason for that. Undeniably, swearing is cathartic and allows us to release the anger that would, otherwise, get trapped inside.
Strong language, then, acts as a buffer that prevents anger from escalating to unbearable levels, arguably avoiding dramatic events in the form of physical violence.
But cursing serves other purposes, too.
For instance, it is used to tell jokes or to spice up story-telling. Dirty words also play an important role in sex talk, making it sound more natural and less awkward.
Importantly, strong language is used to express positive emotions from powerful experiences. That’s probably the case when we hear something along the lines of, Man, that was fucking good!
Fair enough, one can say Awesome! instead. But it’s not exactly the same thing, is it?
Now that we’ve got a more complete picture of what swearing is and what it is for, let’s take a look at the advantages of learning Portuguese bad words.
Portuguese swear words
As mentioned before, swearing serves several purposes and is used in different contexts. Having that in mind, I will walk you through Portuguese swear words across these four different categories:
In some cases, you will notice that the same word is listed across different categories. That’s hardly surprising. The same word can carry different meanings depending on how you say it and, of course, the context.
Also, not all swear words are equally coarse. While both Fuck! and Crap! can be used to express frustration, Fuck! is more ungracious than the other. Swear words vary along a mild-to-rough continuum and some of the expressions listed below are tagged as either mild, vulgar, or rough.
Importantly, the swear words below reflect my Portugal-specific idiomatic awareness. While some of the expressions may have currency across other Portuguese-speaking countries, there are certainly a few that only find use in Portugal.
Reading tips! Curious about the differences between Portuguese spoken in Portugal and Brazil? Here’s a read for you: European vs. Brazilian Portuguese – How Different Are They Really?)
Expressing annoyance and anger
Strong language is cathartic and enables emotional release. People are likely to use it when, for instance, they get irritated or angry at something or someone. Here are a few Portuguese swear words that serve that purpose.
|Caraças||mild||A milder version of Caralho, equivalent to Damn!|
|Caralho||rough||A Portuguese equivalent to the f-word.|
|Foda-se||rough||As rough as Caralho! Both can be used interchangeably.|
|Merda||vulgar||Literally Shit! Also common to hear Deixa-te de merdas! as in Cut the crap!|
|Poça||mild||It literally means puddle. It feels as mild as Crap!|
|Porra||vulgar||A milder version of Caralho! or Foda-se!|
|Puta que pariu||rough||The whore that gave birth … Can be used interchangeably with Caralho!|
|Raisparta||mild||Short for Raios te partam! which literally translates to May the rays break you in two!|
You can add an extra colloquial feeling to the expressions above by adding que and pá before and after respectively. Pá can be added to all of them, whereas que only will fit some. It is even common to combine different swear words:
- que merda pá!
- que caraças!
- porra pá!
- que caralho!
- puta que pariu pá!
- foda-se pá!
- raisparta pá!
- foda-se, puta que pariu!
- porra caralho!
- . . .
Reading tips! You’ve maybe noticed something about the way this language sounds that makes you think of Slavic languages? Spot on! European Portuguese has specific phonological features demarcating it from other Romance languages. Learn more about it: Here’s Why Portuguese Sounds Like Russian (or Polish).
Expressing excitement and joy
You will recognize some of the following words from the list above. Just by changing intonation, the same word can go from expressing anger to becoming an exclamation of surprise and astonishment.
|Caraças||mild||As in Holy cow!|
|Caralho||rough||As in Fuck!|
|Foda-se||rough||Used interchangeably with Caralho! Also common to say the short version: dass!|
|Jesus||mild||As in Jeez!|
|Meu deus||mild||As in Gosh!|
|Nossa senhora||mild||Literally Our lady!|
|Que puta||rough||Used interchangeably with Caralho! or Foda-se!|
Swear words meant to offend
There are a plethora of expressions to choose from if one’s goal is to offend someone else. These insulting words can have a general or a more specific tone such as racist, misogynist, homophobic and so on.
Many of the following words have English cognates such as stupid, idiot, imbecile, etc. Admittedly, they can be used to insult, but they are often used jokingly among friends as well.
|Cabrão||It literally means billy goat. Comparable to Bastard!|
|Corno||It literally means horn. Often intended to humiliate men by suggesting they are cheated upon by their wives.|
|Estúpido||It literally means stupid as in You stupid!|
|Filho da mãe||It literally means son of a mother|
|Idiota||It literally means idiot as in You idiot!|
|Imbecil||It literally means imbecile. Comparable to Asshole!|
|Palerma||Comparable to What a jerk!|
|Paneleiro||Used disparagingly against gay men. Comparable to Faggot!|
|Sacana||Comparable to Bastard!|
Speaking of cognates! Did you know that there are thousands of Portuguese-English cognates your word count can benefit from? Here’s a read for you: English-Portuguese Cognates – Words You Already Know (without Knowing It).
|Filho da puta||Equivalent to Son of a bitch!|
|Monte de merda||Comparable to You piece of shit!|
|Porco(a)||It literally means pig. In practice, it will mean different things depending on if it is used against men or women. Against men, it suggests that someone is sloppy and untidy. Against women, it has sexual connotations insinuating someone being licentious.|
|Puta||Equivalent to Slut!|
|Vaca||It literally means cow and it is used derisively against women. Comparable to You bitch!|
|Vai apanhar no cú||Portuguese version of Up your ass!|
|Vai p’à puta que te pariu|
(vai para a puta que te pariu)
|Comparable to Go fuck yourself!|
|Vai p’ó caralho|
(vai para o caralho)
|Same as above|
|Vai-te foder||Same as above|
Here come a few Portuguese naughty words commonly used in sex talk.
Portuguese swear words for masculine genitals
- colhões (balls)
Portuguese swear words for feminine genitals
Portuguese expressions for sexual intercourse
- foda (fuck)
- queca (fuck)
- rapidinha (quickie)
- broche (blow job)
- minete (lick job)
Reading tips! Does it feel like your Portuguese is not getting anywhere? Here’re some quick tips that will bring your language learning back to life: 38 Quick Tips to Improve Your Portuguese.
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