4 Funny Expressions to Say Leave Me Alone in Brazil

Learn 4 funny expressions to say Leave me alone in Brazil

Brazilian Portuguese is full of special sayings that show feelings, ideas, and bits of Brazilian life in fun and colorful ways. Today I’m going to share four incredible expressions you can use when you’re annoyed and you want to say leave me alone in Brazil. I find these expressions so funny 😂

1. Vai catar coquinho

Literally: Go pick little coconuts 🥥

At first glance, the task of picking little coconuts might seem quaint or even relaxing. However, in Brazil, “vai catar coquinho” serves as a dismissal, akin to telling someone to go fly a kite.

I read that the phrase “Vai catar coquinho” likely has its roots in an unusual command by Caligula, the notorious Roman emperor. While leading the Roman army in the British campaign, Caligula, in one of his infamous fits of rage, ordered his soldiers to collect seashells on the beach. The Latin word for a small shell, “conchula,” evolved over centuries in a language that was more spoken than written to “coquinho” in the expression.

The origin of this expression isn’t a confirmed fact, but it’s certainly fascinating.

2. Vai pentear macaco 🐵

The expression is also used in this version: Vai pentear macacos

Literally: Go comb a monkey/Go comb monkeys

Some believe that the phrase originated in Portugal, not with monkey grooming but with a Portuguese proverb criticizing the pointless grooming of donkeys, seen as unnecessary for their role in transport.

Others say that, the Portuguese used the expression “vá bugiar”, linked to the word “bugio” (a type of monkey), with a similar meaning.

Today, both in Brazil and Portugal, telling someone to “go comb monkeys” remains a way to dismiss someone’s annoyance.

But here’s a note of caution. The history of language is often a mirror to our past, revealing truths that may be unsettling. When I first searched for the origin of this expression, which is widely used here in Brazil, I found that its origin was related to the idea of giving someone a futile or nonsensical task to get them out of your hair. It also seems that the expression at some point referred to donkeys, and not monkeys.

 Yet, deeper investigation revealed a more somber potential link to Brazil’s history of slavery.

Language evolves, and so does our understanding of it. Once I learned about the possible negative origin of the expression, I started asking friends and family in Brazil, as well as every Uber driver I got into the car with, if they felt this expression was racist. No one did. When I mentioned that it might have originated from slavery, no one knew and they all dismissed it, saying that even if that’s the case, it’s not what we think about today. Given this feedback, I believe it’s important to be mindful of the words we use, but it’s clear that this particular expression doesn’t carry the same connotations for people today.

3. Vai tomar banho 🚿

This might be my favorite one 😂

Literally: Go take a shower.

While advising someone to take a shower might sound like genuine concern for their hygiene, in Brazil, it’s a colloquial way of saying “take a hike” or “get lost.”

4. Vai ver se eu tô na esquina 👀

Literally: Go see if I’m around the corner

This expression takes the art of dismissal to a creative level. Telling someone to go check if you’re around the corner, when you’re clearly not planning to be, is a humorous way to highlight the absurdity of their presence or insistence, and say “leave me alone”.

So, next time someone is annoying you, you’ll know exactly what to say with the perfect Brazilian twist.

Now, tell me: Which of these is your favorite expression to tell someone to leave you alone?

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