Posted in English

You Say Patudo, I Say Patão

Unfinished business from yesterday’s moorhen-related content: suppose the birds who wanted to body shame the moorhen had decided to call him a fat duck instead of bigfoot? How would they do that? They could say “pato gordo” or “pato gordinho” of course, but is there a shorter option?

Portuguese speakers tend to use the -inho ending on a lot of words as a diminutive, so patinho is little duck, gatinho is little cat and so on. Augmentatives – endings that make a word bigger or stronger are a little rarer and less regular, but substituting – ão for the final o is quite a common way of doing it. Or -ona if it ends in an a.

So in this case, patão would be a chonky duck. You probably won’t hear this very often in Portugal. Things are more likely to be – inho than – ão, but there’s a supermarket in Brazil called patão, and the word does exist in priberam, so it’s not just a Brazilian thing.

I’m trying to think where I’ve heard these kinds of endings: garrafão is a huge bottle, facalhão is a big kitchen knife, and I think I’ve seen it used for outdoor work knives (maybe even a machete?) in some contexts too. Barrigão is used to mean a big belly, whether it’s big because there is a baby in there or because the owner is too fond of Sagres.

You have to be a little careful with these though. I think, because they are quite rare, they might be used for humorous affect and you probably don’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing. Mulherão, for example: how’s that going to come across? Tall woman? Great woman? Fat woman? Coarse woman? It might depend on the context or that tone of voice, so unless you’re supremely confident I’d just leave it out if I were you.

There are other endings too. I can’t really do justice to them without, basically, rewriting this article from Practice Portuguese word for word, so if you want to know more, I’d say toddle on over there and see what the boys have to say on the subject.

Posted in English


If there’s one thing Portugal is not, it’s Texas. Portugal is Portugal, Texas is Texas. How many times must I repeat this, people?

While Texas prides itself on everything being bigger there, european portuguese uses a lot of diminutive endings “inho” and “inha”, at least in conversational use. This doesn’t usually mean the thing they’re talking about is actually small (although it might be), it’s just a way of speaking, and it makes the sentence sound more natural and polished. The opposite phenomenon, augmentative endings, are rarer and the way they are formed is more variable than the diminutive, so they need a little more work to remember. So… let’s Texanise our Portuguese for a bit and look at this list “(from “A Actualidade em Português”)

Where the word is highlighted in red, the augmented form has changed gender from feminine to masculine, and blue highlighting indicates the opposite. Predictably, the former is more common than the latter.

CasaHouseCasarãoBig house
RochaRockRochedoBig rock
BarulhoNoiseBarulhãoBig noise*
VozVoiceVozeirão(Someone who has a) loud voice
PortaDoorPortãoBig door, main door of a building
SalaRoomSalãoBig room especially in a commercial space – eg, dance hall or showroom
FacaKnifeFacalhão/Facão**Big knife, machete
CamisolaJumperCamisolãoBig jumper
HomemManHomenzarrãoLarge man
MulherWomanMulheronaLarge woman
BocaMouthBoqueirãoLarge mouth (has several geographical uses – eg a river mouth, hole in the ground, gap between mountains)
PratoPlatePratalhãoBig plate, dish
CadeiraChairCadeirãoBig chair
CopoDrinking glassCopãoBig drinking glass
PeitoChestPeitaça/Peitaço***Big/strong chest
SábioWise personSabichão****Great, wise one
PataPaw, hoof, animal footPatorraBig paw, big foot
CãoDogCãozarrãoBig dog
RapazBoyRapagão/RapazãoChonky Boi, absolute unit

*=This one is in the book but not in Priberam so I guess not standard.

**=Faca has two forms, one of which stays feminine and the other switches to masculine. The first is the one given in the book, but the second is definitely used and is given in priberam

***=Peito has two forms, one feminine and one masculine. Despite what you might think, that’s not because one is used for a woman’s chest and one for a man’s; they’re synonyms. Peitaça is more common and can be used for a man’s swole pecs without implying he has a nice rack, and that makes it interesting because it’s the only example where the supersizing results in a word going from masculine to feminine. Neither of them seems particularly common though, and in fact if you google it you’ll mostly find brazilian websites with ornate breastplates, which isn’t a meaning given in Priberam so I guess it must be specific to the Brazilian variant

****=Informal, often ironic, mocking