The much awaited Olympics in Rio are finally here!
As someone who is watching the games in Rio, I’m sure you’ve made some effort to grasp the language and show your hosts that you’re not the typical gringo.
In order to give you an edge in communication, we’ve come up with 36 words that are guaranteed to impress your hosts, bring some laughs and enhance your experience in Brazil.
These words are going to come in handy for your time in Rio both during and after the games. You can use them wherever you are in Brazil and whenever the situation calls for them.
Without further ado, let’s learn the 36 Portuguese words that you need to know for your Summer Olympics vacation in Brazil.
1. a praia – the beach
The quintessential word for Rio. No matter who you are or where you are from, when you hear Rio you probably think beach (Well, maybe you think Pixar movie).
Bora pra praia!– Let’s go to the beach!
2. barraca – beach umbrella
Make sure you use this word when you are on the beach looking for some shade. You might get funny looks if you ask for a guarda sol.
3. pôr do sol – sunset
Nothing quite says, “I’m in Rio!” like a sunset photo on the beach. At the end of the afternoon, hustle over to the nearest praia to catch Mother Nature’s pastel sky as the sun falls to the west.
Vamos para Pão de Açucar para ver o por do sol. – Let’s go to Sugarloaf Mountain to see the sunset.
4. açaí – magic fruit from the Amazon
This delicious purple fruit is likely to become your several times a day addiction. With granola, banana, strawberries, sweet milk powder (leite ninho), and any syrup your heart desires.
Quero uma açaí na tigela com granola e morango, por favor. – I’d like a bowl of açaí with granola and strawberries, please.
5. areia – sand
That soft, warm, white stuff that comprises the beach and finds its way into all the nooks and crannies of your clothes, beach bag and even your body.
Porra! Tem areia nos ouvidos! – Shit! I have sand inside my ears!
6. futebol – football/soccer
The infamous other religion of Brazil, learn this word and learn it fast. Say it like, foochee-bOWl and you’ll warm the hearts of Brazilians of all sizes and shapes.
A que horas vai começar o jogo de futebol hoje? – What time does the soccer/football match start today?
7. churrasco – barbecue
Not to be confused with American style BBQ, Brazilian churrasco is in a league of it’s own. If you play your cards right you’ll find yourself enjoying succulent Brazilian meats with your new friends.
Fala aí amigo! Vem pra casa, a gente vai fazer um churraso. – Hey man! Come over to my place, we’re going to have a barbecue.
8. Carioca – Resident of Rio de Janeiro
Anyone from Rio, or that has lived there long enough to be designated a local, is a carioca. Trivial fact, it also is the name of the green cigar smoking Brazilian parrot that Disney conjured up in the early 1940s.
Eu sou americano mas tenho coração carioca. – I’m American but my heart is Carioca.
9. malandro – street smart
You ever see a guy who looks like he wants to sell you a used car but there’s no lot in sight? Yeah he’s malandro.
10. animado – excited
This is a feeling you’re going to experience often during your time in Rio.
Estou muito animado para estar aqui. – I’m so excited to be here.
11. legal – cool
I know it looks the same as the English word, but don’t go around saying it like that. Say lay-gAU whenever you don’t know what else to say and people will appreciate your effort to learn Portuguese.
Cara, isso é muito legal! – Dude this is so cool!
12. trânsito – traffic
It’s inevitable that, at some point, cars are going to get backed up and you will be in a bus, taxi, or some other kind of ground transport wanting to be anywhere else. It’s just a fact of life in Rio. Get used to it.
Como está o trânsito? – How’s traffic?
Tá tudo parado por causa dos jogos. – It’s all backed up because of the Games.
13. ônibus – bus
You’ll be riding around on these a lot to get to and from places in Rio. If you travel between cities in Brazil make sure to check out the 10 commandments of bus travel in Brazil.
14. lindo – beautiful
There’s a lot of words for beautiful in Portuguese. You can use this one to let someone know that they’re beautiful, or to describe a beautiful situation. It’s the kind of beauty that warms your heart and makes you smile.
15. atrasado – late
People show up late to appointments all the time in Rio. Whether the cause of the tardiness comes from the weather, the traffic, the Olympics, a protest or workers strike, it’s almost a certainty that someone will show up late during your time in Rio.
Cadê Gustavo? Ele está atrasado. – Where’s Gustavo? He’s running late.
16. foda – very good or very bad
Just depends on the feeling you put into it. Pelé é foda! – Pele is awesome!
Or, on the other hand Esse jogo é foda! – This game is wrecked.
17. vencer – to win
When making a future prediction about which team will win you’ll want to use vencer. It’s a stronger word than ganhar, which also means to win.
Nós vamos vencer – We’re going to dominate.
18. torcida – group of serious fans, supporters
That crazy group of people that have all the supportive clothes, banners, face paint, etc. down at the end of the stadium. That’s the torcida. You want to hang out with them.
A torcida está muito animado para o jogo começar – The fans are excited for the game to start.
19. gatinha & gatinho – sexy girl or guy
Not much to it. If he or she is really attractive, the person is a gatinho/a, respectively. You can also use this playfully with friends.
20. ferrado – screwed
You bet the rest of the cash in your wallet that your team would win, but they’re losing and your drink is empty. You are ferrado.
21. valeu – thanks; from the phrase it was worth it
I stopped and asked for directions and the helpful guy helped me find my way. Valeu!
22. furado – bored
You feel furado when you are at a restaurant or bar with friends and everyone wants to play FB because there is free wifi.
23. beleza – used in many ways; right on, sweet, it’s all good…. literally means beauty
This will very commonly be used as a greeting and a way to indicate that everything is well with you.
E aí, beleza? – What’s up, everything beautiful?
24. craque – very good player, but sounds the same as the name for the drug crack
Marta passed up Pelé as Brazil’s all time leading goal scorer this year, so it’s safe to say she is a craque.
25. prêmio – prize
26. medalha – medal
People are going to win them in three different kinds of metal.
27. Uma bosta – something shitty
We don’t like to talk about it, but Brazil’s World Cup game against Germany was a bosta. It was really shitty.
28. roubo – theft
When the price of a coconut water on the beach goes up because of the Olympics you can say, “6 reais um agua de coco é um roubo!” to let them know that you don’t approve.
This is different from an assalto, when someone literally steals from you. Hopefully this doesn’t happen.
29. amigão – good friend
You can use this literally or figuratively, like with a waiter or service person that you want to show respect to.
Fala amigão! Quanto tempo. – Hey buddy! Long time no see!
30. top (read topee) – high quality, as in top shelf
When you’re looking for a word to describe how cool something is, and legal isn’t strong enough, this word will just work. However, don’t overuse it or you’ll end up becoming chato.
Como foi a festa? Foi top! – How was the party? It was off the hook.
31. chato – annoying
When the metro is late. Chato. When the food is taking to long. Chato. When there is no more açaí. Chato! That dude selling maté on the beach who won’t quit yelling? You get the idea.
32. ficante – person you’re hooking up with
This is not your boyfriend or girlfriend, that is until you stop sleeping around and stay with her or him. A ficante is someone you fool around with but have no explicit commitment to.
33. camisinha – condom
Rio is a sexy city with sexy people. Stay safe and learn this word.
34. geladinha – cold beer
This is also a nice introduction into the way that many Brazilians like to use the diminutive form (-inho or -inha) for many words to make them polite, cute, or just to imply a small quantity.
Que calor! Vamos tomar uma geladinha. – What heat! Let’s grab a cold one.
35. bunda – booty
How could we possibly make a list of important Portuguese words and not give you the word for butt?
36. moço & moça – unknown person that you’re addressing
Commonly used to get the attention of service staff at restaurants and bars, you can also use this for strangers in public when you need it to have the same effect.
Ô moço, como faço para chegar na praia? – Hey you, how do I get to the beach?
Agree with the list? What do you think are the most important words to learn before going to the Olympics?
Let us know in the comments so others can find more helpful words and phrases to help them while they’re in Brazil.
If you are going to stick around Brazil after the Olympics or want to learn more than a few phrases, check out Semantica Portuguese. It’s the best course out there for learning Portuguese.