6 Portuguese Words with no English Translation

6 Portuguese Words with no English Translation

The Portuguese language is full of idiosyncrasies that make mastering the language so much harder. As if that wasn’t enough, Portuguese has many words that have no direct translation to English, which can make learning Brazilian Portuguese frustrating.

But don’t fret! We have set up a list of some very common Portuguese words that have no English translation. We show them to you in context, so now, when the time comes, you’ll be able to use them!

Six Portuguese words with no English translation:

1. Cafuné – The act of running one’s finger through someone’s hair.

Example: “Vou fazer um cafuné até você adormecer.”

Roughly Translated As: I’m going to run my fingers through your hair until you fall asleep.


2. Saudade – The feeling of longing for someone or something; nostalgia for a person, place, feeling or experience.

Example: “Toda vez que viajo fico com tanta saudade do meu marido que até dói.”

Roughly Translated As: Everytime I go out of town I feel such a longing for my husband that it hurts inside.


3. Calorento – Someone who is sensitive to high temperatures.

Example: “Sofro no verão pois sou muito calorento! Vou comprar um ar condicionado.”

Roughly Translated As: I really suffer in the summer since I am so sensitive to high temperatures! I will buy myself an air-conditioner.

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4. Farofa – Toasted and seasoned manioc flour. It is served as a tasty side dish for many typical brazilian dishes, including churrasco (bbq).

Example: “Pede uma farofa junto com o seu bife. A desse restaurante é uma delícia!”

Roughly Translated As: Ask for the seasoned manioc flour as a side for your steak. This restaurant makes a delicious one!


5. Malandro – Someone who is a mix of a conman, bohemian, and swindler. It’s not necessarily a negative description, depending on the context.

Example: “Olha aquele malandro! Flertou com a garçonete e almoçou de graça!”

Roughly Translated As: Check that smart guy out! Flirted with the server and got a free lunch!


6. Malemolência – A word with several different meanings. Depending on its context, it can refer to a swing, wiggle, or how samba dancers move. It can also be used to describe creativity and flexibility when dealing with tricky situations.

Exemple: “A rainha do Carnaval é cheia da malemolência! Olha como ela dança!”

Roughly Translated As: The queen of this Carnaval has such swing! Check out how she dances!

The wonderful Brazilian singer Céu has a song called Malemolência. Here is the music video:

Have you come across any other Portuguese words that have no direct English translation? Let us know in the comments!

Take this opportunity to book a Trial Lesson with Street Smart Brazil. Don’t let Portuguese be a mystery for you. We have friendly and professional instructors who are well prepared to help you speak Portuguese comfortably.

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