If it’s true there’s a lot of trains (trens) in Minas, then both Pará and Maranhão must have a lot of mares, or female horses (éguas). Of my three-month stay in Pará back in 2009, from the first day to my last, I heard the word “égua” anywhere from one to twenty times per day. Some call it the “vírgula dos paraenses” (the comma of residents of Pará) because it’s so common and they use the word for so many reasons, such as surprise, admiration, happiness, fright, and even anger. In the rest of Brazil, égua is replaced with such words as “poxa!“, “caramba!“, and “nossa!“, which you’re likely already familiar with.
Online, I encountered a few use cases for “égua”. Let’s take a look.
Égua, saudades de você!
(Égua, I miss you!)
Égua, que mulher bonita!
(Égua, what a pretty woman!)
Égua, eu nem acredito que consegui!
(Égua, I don’t even believe I made it!)
Égua, que susto!
(Égua, what a scare!)
Égua, eu não agüento mais! Vou pedir demissão.
(Égua, I can’t take it anymore! I’m quitting.)
While it’s nice to be able to put it right before the message you wish to convey, it’s perfectly fine on its own, too. In Belém, it’s far from odd to hear a lone “égua”, in fact, they fall from people’s mouths like mangos from the tree-lined streets. Returning to the interjection, one of my favorite ways to say the word is by chopping it up until it becomes “é-gu-a”, a trick I picked up from my friends there. There’s also the pronunciation of “éeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegua”, if you prefer. Check out the “home video” below to hear some different pronunciations.
You may have heard the man in the video saying a phrase with “égua” on the end. That’s “pai d’égua” (father of an égua), which means something cool, great or generally positive. An example might be a store that has a “promoção pai-d’égua” (a really good sale). Opposing the positive meaning, if you said someone is a “filho duma égua” (son of an égua), you’d be calling them an idiot. Slang can, indeed, be tricky. Taking a line from Mr. Ed, the main thing to remember is that “a horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless that horse is”…in the North (of Brazil).
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