The other day I was at a language meetup talking to a Brazilian next to me about vocabulary related to animal behavior when she suddenly asked what “scavenge” means. It turns out that there are several ways to translate it, but it is not that easy to find a literal translation. In this post I share my little research with you. You will learn how to say scavenge and hunt in Portuguese. You will also learn four other verbs to grow your Portuguese vocabulary.
To Scavenge in Portuguese
Knowing very well what scavenge is but not how to translate it simply, I tried to get around the subject by saying it’s like hunting but not necessarily for animals.
Looking it up in a Portuguese language dictionary, I saw the verbs revirar (to turn something over) and vasculhar (to search about, to look carefully for something, to trawl or comb).
Here are examples of how to use these verbs in Portuguese:
1) João revirou a casa toda procurando a sua carteira.
= João turned everything over in the house looking for his wallet.
2) Helena vasculhou a casa toda para encontrar seus óculos.
= Helena searched all over the house to find her glasses.
This is not exactly how we use scavenge in English, right? Still not completely satisfied, I tried to think of related phrases.
And that’s when I remembered “scavenger hunt” and tried to explain that, but unfortunately I also didn’t know how to explain the concept as a direct translation, though I managed a long-winded version. The correct phrase for that term, by the way, is caça ao tesouro (basically, treasure hunt), also known in Brazil as gincana.
Now back to scavenge, different situations will require different verbs in Portuguese. Here are three examples:
1) Eu vejo pombos catando restos de comida nas mesas do restaurante da universidade.
= I see pigeons scavenging leftover food on the tables at the university cafeteria.
2) Marcos gosta de vasculhar ferros-velhos para encontrar peças para o seu carro.
= Marcos likes to scavenge junk years to find parts for this car.
3) É sempre triste ver pessoas pobres catando lixo atrás de comida.
= It is always sad to see poor people scavenging trash looking for food.
To Hunt in Portuguese
Caçar means to hunt in Portuguese. Here are some other phrases which use the verb to hunt.
– caça ao ovo de Páscoa (Easter egg hunt)
– caça às bruxas (witch hunt)
- Also useful to know perseguição política (political persecution)
– caçar mulheres, caçar ricos, etc (to be on the hunt for women, rich men *)
– caçar os traficantes (to pursue drug dealers, in order to detain them)
Caçar can also be used as a name given to people who do this action, such as, os caça-mulheres (the women-hunters) or that old movie “Os Caça-Fantasmas” (Ghostbusters). Another fun word to know: caça-palavras (word hunt).
Notice that we do not use the word caçar in the context of job hunting. We say Procurar trabalho = to look for a job.
Technically, though, the word for hunter is caçador.
Don’t mix them up: Caçar, Cassar, Casar
Do not mix Caçar (to hunt) and Cassar, which means to cancel, annul or repeal.
- O Congresso pode cassar o mandato de políticos corruptos.
= Congress can revoke the mandate of corrupt politicians.
Another similar verb is Casar: to get married.
- Lúcia e Antônio vão se casar.
= Lúcia and Antônio are going to get married.
Now you should know three similar sounding and similarly written verbs: caçar, cassar, and casar. Fun, right? 😉
The key to retaining new vocabulary and using it correctly is practice. Regular meetings with a professional tutor makes all the difference in your path to fluency. Don’t struggle with Portuguese! Book a Trial Lesson with a Street Smart Brazil instructor to see how we can help you speak Portuguese comfortably.