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Portuguese Swear Words: An Unashamed Journey through Portuguese Strong Language

Although strongly repressed by many, swear words have their place in social interactions, namely, they are a powerful means of emotional release and human expression.

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. 

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 and can benefit your language learning.

The purpose of this blog 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 smartly and humorously without offending or hurting anyone.

Right off the bat, here’s a list of 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 do we use them only when we get pissed. There’s much more to it. Read on.

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Why do we swear?

Often regarded as rude, 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!” 

One can say “Awesome!” instead. But it’s not the same thing, is it?

Now that we’ve got a complete picture of what swearing is and what it is for, let’s take a look at the advantages of learning Portuguese bad words. 

Before we go any further, note the following:

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. 

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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.

Swear wordGrade
CaraçasmildA milder version of Caralho, equivalent to Damn!
CaralhoroughA Portuguese equivalent to the f-word.
Foda-seroughAs rough as Caralho! Both can be used interchangeably. 
MerdavulgarLiterally Shit! Also common to hear Deixa-te de merdas! as in Cut the crap!
PoçamildShort for Raios te partam! which translates to May the rays break you in two! 
PorravulgarA milder version of Caralho! or Foda-se! 
Puta que pariuroughThe whore that gave birth … Can be used interchangeably with Caralho! 
RaispartamildShort 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 before and after respectively. 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!
  • . . .

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.

Swear wordGrade
CaraçasmildAs in Holy cow!
CaralhoroughAs in Fuck!
Foda-seroughUsed interchangeably with Caralho! Also common to say the short version: dass!
JesusmildAs in Jeez!
Meu deusmildAs in Gosh!
Nossa senhoramildLiterally Our lady! 
Que putaroughUsed interchangeably with Caralho! or Foda-se!
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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. 

Milder

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.

Swear word
CabrãoIt literally means billy goat. Comparable to Bastard!
CornoIt literally means horn. Often intended to humiliate men by suggesting they are cheated upon by their wives. 
EstúpidoIt literally means stupid as in You stupid!
Filho da mãeIt literally means son of a mother 
IdiotaIt literally means idiot as in You idiot! 
ImbecilIt literally means imbecile. Comparable to Asshole!
PalermaComparable to What a jerk!
PaneleiroUsed disparagingly against gay men. Comparable to Faggot!
SacanaComparable to Bastard!

Rougher

Swear word
Filho da putaEquivalent to Son of a bitch!
Monte de merdaComparable 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.
PutaEquivalent to Slut!
VacaIt literally means cow and it is used derisively against women. Comparable to You bitch! 
Vai apanhar no cúPortuguese version of Up your ass!
Vai p’à puta que te pariu
(vai para a puta que te pariu)
Equivalent of Go fuck yourself!
Vai p’ó caralho
(vai para o caralho)
Same as above
Vai-te foderSame as above
Start off on the right foot

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Dirty talk

Here are a few Portuguese naughty words commonly used in sex talk.

Portuguese swear words for masculine genitals

  • caralho
  • piça
  • piroca
  • pila
  • colhões

Portuguese swear words for feminine genitals

  • cona
  • rata 
  • pachacha 
  • pito
Audiobooks
Easy Reads for Portuguese Lanugage Learners - Entre a Felicidade e a Tristeza - by Portuguesepedia
Easy Reads for Portuguese Lanugage Learners - Cenas do Quotidiano - by Portuguesepedia
Que Cara de Pau - Dialog Reads for Portuguese Language Learners - Portuguesepedia
Estou feito ao bife - Idiomatic chats for Portuguese Language Learners - Portuguesepedia
Easy Reads for Portuguese Lanugage Learners - Conversa Fiada - by Portuguesepedia
Portuguese short story for beginners - de maos dadas - Portuguesepedia
Easy Reads for Portuguese Language Learners - Zen Stories - by Portuguesepedia
Easy Reads for Portuguese Lanugage Learners - Uma Segunda Oportunidade - by Portuguesepedia

Portuguese expressions for sexual intercourse

  • foda (fuck)
  • queca (fuck)
  • rapidinha (quickie)  
  • broche (blow job)
  • minete (lick job) 

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Olá! This is Pedro and I'm the founder of Portuguesepedia, a platform created to support and accelerate your Portuguese learning journey. Até já, p

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