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Freudian Slip

The exercises in the book I’m working through have themes to them. The last few have all been expressions involving body parts. The other day included one that said “Fugir a boca para a verdade” (The mouth runs rowards the truth) meaning if you don’t keep it under control, your mouth just blurts out what’s really on your mind. The very same day, I saw someone using it because George W Bush had given a speech and, as this tweeter commented, his big stupid mouth had done exactly that.

Here are a few of my favourites from the same exercise

Sete cães a um osso – lots of people are trying to lay claim to one thing, or the attention of one person

Estar debaixo da língua – equivalent to “on the tip of my tongue”

Ficar com um nó na garganta – equivalent to “have a lump in one’s throat”

Ter as costas largas – to be able to cope with a lot of responsibility

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Sheila Take a Baú

Social media really is a treasure trove of stuff you can learn, and it doesn’t feel like a chore because you’re just looking at memes. Here’s one i found today.

I know “golpe” is like a blow – in the sense of a blow to the head or a blow from an axe: the impact of something. It’s used in “golpe de estado” (coup d’état) for example. And baú is a chest – as in “treasure chest”. So when you put them together, what do you get? A golpe de baú is the act of marrying an older guy in the hope of inheriting all his wealth.

So, basically, I’m the words of Kanye West, they ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ with no broke tuga.

I don’t actually know who the woman is or what the account that’s posting this is like, so I’m not sure whether she’s in on the joke or whether it’s meant in a cruel way or whether she’s done anything to deserve it or whether they are just being arseholes, but I am so pleased to have learned a new thing that I don’t really care.

Golpe de baú

You can read more about the history of the phrase Golpe de Baú on Wikipedia if you’re interested

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Expressions with Bodyparts

Birthday cake

Scheduling this post for my birthday

Here are some expressions from the exercise book. I’m really trying to do these exercises every day now because I have been slacking.

Falar nas costas = talk behind someone’s back

Ter dedo = to have a knack for something

Puxar pela cabeça = think really hard

Queimar as pestanas = read a lot

Bater com o nariz na porta = be unable to achieve a goal because the shop/house/office/whatever was shut

With that last one, when I researched it, I found that there was one page that claimed it could be used in a more figurative sense – in other words you could use it when you were denied or rebuffed in some request, or met with some sort of bureaucratic denial, maybe, but the majority said it was strictly literal: you turn up at the library hoping to find a PG Wodehouse book you’ve never read but you bang your nose on the door because it’s shut. So I asked…

Há uma expressão no meu livro “bater com o nariz na porta”. Entendo o significado mas não tenho a certeza de como se usa. Será que pode ter um significado menos literal – por exemplo “Convidei a Mafalda para jantar comigo mas bati com o nariz na porta quando ela respondeu* que já tinha combinado um jantar com o Joaquim, um halterofilista com dois metros de altura” ou só numa situação concreta** como “Eu e a Janet fomos para o restaurante às seis e meia mas batemos com os narizes na porta porque os portugueses costumam jantar mais tarde

The verdict? No, only the literal sense works. If I go to the restaurant too early and its shut, I can say we banged on the door with our nose, but if I get spurned by Mafalda in favour of her hot date with the bodybuilder, I can’t use it.

* I cleaned up the grammar a little bit following some feedback from Dani. I had tried to use a different word here – ripostar – because I found it in the novel I’m reading and thought it would be more interesting but it turned out to be too interesting for this context!

** I used “específica” but that wasn’t the best choice.

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Shake It Baby

Today’s book exercise includes the phrase “de mãos a abanar”. Checking what ciberdúvidas has to say in the subject, it seems there are two possible variants, one more literal than the other

Ficar/Ir COM mãos a abanar usually means your hands really physically shake (but note, not shaking hands with someone else that’s “apertar as mãos” – you squeeze hands with someone.

Vir/Ficar/Ir DE mãos a abanar means to end up empty handed. Just like in English you can come away empty handed, without being able to gain from a situation, or you can turn up empty handed, with nothing to offer in a situation. The actual example in the book uses vir as the verb, but of course it depends on the situation you’re describing – whether they are setting off with nothing, coming away empty handed or whatever. I’ve also seen a Brazilian page describing “chegar de mãos abanando” which is obviously related. They use it to describe a situation where someone arrives at a party without a present or a bottle of wine or whatever. According to the writer this is related to immigrants to Brazil in the 19th century. If they were unskilled their hands would shake due to inability to use the tools of the trade. Pardon my skepticism but this sounds like bollocks to me.

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Expressions from the C1 Textbook that are vaguely animal-related.

Tratar abaixo de cão – to treat someone worse than a dog, ie mistreat someone (“o meu pai tratou-me abaixo de cão” )

Quando as galinhas tiveram dentes – when hens have teeth, ie, it’ll never happen (“Ele só vai deixar de fumar quando as galinhas tiveram dentes”)

Pensar na morte de bezerra – to think about the death of the… I don’t even know the correct English word here. Heifer? Something like that. A female calf, anyway. The expression means to be miles away, thinking about something else and not tuned in to what’s going on around you (“a professora perguntou-me alguma coisa mas está a pensar na morte da bezerra”)

Ficar pior do que uma barata – to be worse than a cockroach, meaning to be angry. This doesn’t seem to be a very common expression as far as I can tell. I can only find one example online and even that is phrased slightly differently from the Textbook example (“a mãe está pior que uma barata com o filho”)

Ser feio como um bode – to be as ugly as a goat… About what you’d expect really.

Não é como vinagre que se apanham moscas – you can’t catch flies with vinegar, ie, if you want to win people over you have to give them what they want. The dicionário informal give a slightly depressing sample sentence “Com este seu gênio não vai arrumar namorado, pois não é com vinagre que se apanham moscas.” You won’t get a boyfriend by being a genius, because you can’t catch flies with vinegar. There you go, girls, there’s some good life advice for you.

Estar com a pulga atrás da orelha – To have a flea behind the ear, ie to be paranoid or to lack confidence (“normandos sempre tão rude, hoje deu-me um presente. É caso para ficar com a pulga atrás da orelha

Cair nas garras de alguém – to fall into someone’s claws, ie to be at their mercy (“O chancelor caiu nas garras da indústria alemã”)

Meter-se na boca do lobo – to put oneself in the wolf’s mouth, ie to put oneself in danger (the verb here can be cair as in the previous expression, if the person has got into danger by mistake instead of through heroism or hubris (“Não percebes que estás a meter-te na boca do lobo?”)

Meter o rabo entre as pernas – to put ones tail between ones legs, ie to admit defeat or accept humiliation (“depois de levar uma pancada de Will Smith, Chris Rock meteu o seu rabo entre as pernas”)

Meter a pata na poça – to put the hoof in the puddle, which is equivalent to the English expression “to out your foot in it”, ie, make a mistake (“Chris Rock meteu a pata na poça ao aludir à falta de cabelos da mulher de Will Smith”)

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Diz O Roto Ao Nu

I mentioned the “Parra” map in reddit but in the course of chuckling about someone else’s typo, I typed “mãos” in place of “mais”. Someone replied with “diz o roto ao nu”. Obviously an expression of some sort. Apparently its full version is “Diz o roto ao nu, porque não te vestes tu?” I get the gust if this but wasn’t sure what “Roto” meant because it has a ton of different meanings. In this case, though, it means someone whose clothes are all raggedy. The ragged-clothed guy said to the naked guy, why don’t you get dressed?

Of course, they both need to get dressed but we can’t always see our own faults. It’s a little like the pot calling the kettle black. In fact, there’s an even more similar expression meaning the same thing: “diz o tacho ao sertã, tens o cu preto” where a tacho is a small, cylindrical pan and a sertã is a big, deep pan like a skillet or a casserole dish or something. Both have had their arses blackened by exposure ginthe flame.

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Expressões da Natureza

Doing homework from the new book. Here we go with idiomatic expressions that have to do with nature. I’ll skip all the obvious ones. Tirar o cavalo da chuva is in there for example. It’s an old favourite but I’ve mentioned it about a hundred times already.

  • Frio de rachar – splitting cold. Very, very cold.
  • Arranjar lenha para se queimar – to gather wood to burn oneself. Basically to create difficulties for yourself
  • Chamar-lhe um figo – To call something a fig. To eat /serve something you really like. Can also mean that you covet something.
  • Mandar à fava – to send someone to the bean. To send someone away or make it obvious you want them to get lost
  • Com a cabeça na lua – with one s head in the moon. Equivalent to “with one’s head in the clouds” in English
  • Mandar às urtigas to send someone to the nettles. To treat something as unimportant
  • Sol de pouca dura – Sun that doesn’t last long. Something good but transitory
  • Ter névoa nos olhos – To have fog in one’s eyes. To have blurred vision. This can be used both for the literal blurry vision but also figuratively when you don’t understand something
  • Aos quatro ventos – To the four winds. In all directions – just like in English, if you scatter something to the four winds.
  • Estar com um grão na asa – To have a grain in the wing. A state of mild euphoria or tipsiness

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Expressions from the C1 course – I’m going to rewrite them here to help me remember them

Acordar com os pés de fora – This is like “wake up on the wrong side of the bed

Abrir o coração – Similar to English; say what you really think, get your feelings out in the open

Abrir o jogo – This one is a bit different from English expressions that mention the start or a game (“Game on” or “kick-off meeting”) It means to reveal details… I guess a game-related metaphor would be “blow the whistle” perhaps?

Abrir os olhos a alguém – Easy one, this. It just means warn someone or convince them of something

À sombra da bananeira – Not bovvered

Agarrar com unhas e dentes – to hold on for dear life

(Dar) Água pela barba – A desperate situation. I misunderstood this when I first heard it. It sounds like someone sweating through their beard, perhaps due to hard work or fear, but according to this blog post, it’s because the prow of a ship is called a barba, and when the water is up to there you know you’re in trouble!

Arregaçar as mangas – Just like in English, roll up your sleeves, get down to business.

Balde de água fria – Disappointment

Barata tonta – a dizzy cockroach. Someone who is acting erratically, or is disorientated

Bater as botas – Beat your boots, equivalent to kick the bucket, pop your clogs, buy the farm

Bater na mesma tecla – keep bashing on the same keyboard key: to persist in saying or doing something to an annoying degree

Baixar a bola – Calm Down

Cabeça de alho chocho – Someone who’s head is like withered garlic is, as you would expect, just someone distracted or forgetful

(dar uma) Calinada – (to say) something stupid or ungrammatical

Tem cara de caso – To gave a worried expression

Cabeça nas nuvens – Just like in English, head in the clouds means delistracted

Coisas do arco da velha – Weird things especially weird old things. My train of thought when I heard this that arco must mean ark, as in ark of the covenant: a chest or trunk where granny kept all her weird old-time junk but arco doesn’t have that meaning in Portuguese. According to the Internet, it just means the old lady’s rainbow.

Comprar gato por lebre – To get swindled. You’re supposed to imahine trying to buy a hare as food and getting sold a dead cat instead.

Cortar as vazas – To stop someone doing something. The relevant meaning of vaza here seems to be as a “trick” in a game of cards such as Bridge, so I guess cutting it would be a strategy to stop an opponent getting an advantage…? Vaza can also mean an emptying or hollowing out of something.

Chorar sobre o leite derramado – To cry over spilt milk

Com a corda no pescoço – With the rope around the neck, ie, under pressure or threat

Com a faca e o queijo na mão – I love this one. Someone is in a position to be able to resolve matters is said to be “with the knife and the cheese in their hand”

Com uma perna às costas – Effortlessly. Equivalent to “with one arm tied behind your back” except in Portugal, its a leg

(ter as) Costas quente – (to have) safety and protection because someone has your back

cravar – literally means to nail something, but as, an expression, to ask for a loan or scrounge something.

Dar/Bater com o nariz na porta – To Look for something and not find it

Dar o braço a torcer – To a it you were wrong about something and change your mind.

Dar com a língua nos dentes – Tell a secret

Dar uma mãozinha – Give someone a hand, just like in English

Dar troco – To answer someone’s comment or insult, to clap back

(Ter) Dor de cotovelo – Another favourite of mine: having pains in your elbow is a Portuguese expression for feeling envious. Not to be confused with “falar pelos cotovelos” which means to talk a lot.

De olhos fechados – as in the case of “com uma perna às costas”, this means you have no trouble doing something. It’s so easy you can do it with your eyes closed.

Engolir sapos – To do something you really don’t want to do. Nuno Markl uses it in describing the attitude of a lot of communist voters in 1986, forced to “engolir o sapo” of voting for Soares because it was better than voting for Amaral de Freitas.

Estar com os azeites – To be bored or annoyed with something

Estar de mãos atadas – as in English “my hands are tied” means I can’t do anything

Estar de/Ficar de trombas – Roughly equivalent to “to have a long face”. In fact, since tromba means trunk, you could probably rewrite the famous joke about the horse walking into a bar in Portuguese but you’d have to make it an elephant.

Estar-se nas tintas – To be completely indifferent to something.

Encostar a roupa ao pelo – Bater em alguém.

Estar giro – to be fun or pretty

Estar fixe – to be cool or good

Estar feito ao bife – knackered. Nobody seems quite sure where this came from but my Brazilian friend said think of a beef that has been tenderused by bashing it repeatedly wuty a spikey mallet. That.

Fazer um negócio da China – Pull off a big great business deal

Fazer vista grossa – To turn a blind eye

Fazer uma tempestade num copo de água – To make a big fuss – a storm in a tea cup, except it’s not a teacup, it’s a glass of water

Gritar a plenos pulmões – To scream at the top of your lungs

Ir desta para melhor – Just like in English, to go to a better place is to die.

Ir aos arames – To get annoyed

Lavar a roupa suja – Washing your dirty laundry is equivalent to airing your dirty linen in public: discussing personal stuff in a public setting.

Levar a peito – Taking to the chest is similar to the English expression ctake it to heart. On other words, take it personally and get offended by something.

(Ter) Maus fígados – to have bad livers means to have a bad temper

Meter os pés pelas mãos – to put your feet in your hand means to get muddled and mix things up.

Meter o rabo entre as pernas – To out your tail between your legs, to submit.

Onde Judas perdeu as botas – Where Judas lost his boots; in the middle of nowhere. See also “cu de Judas”

Pão, pão, queijo, queijo – This is what you say when something is completely clear, unambiguous and well-defined.

(estar com os, ter os) Pés para a cova – To have your feet in the grave is just like you’d say “one foot in the grave” on English.

Pendurar as botas – To hang up your boots is to retire, especially from a sport.

Pensar na morte da bezerra – To think about the death of the calf just means to be distracted

(ser uma, ter uma) Pedra no sapato – To have a problem that needs resolving

Pôr a pata na poça – To put your foot in it, just like in English, except that the portuguese are more specific about “it”. It’s a puddle.

Pôr mãos à obra – Put your hands to work.

Pôr os pontos nos is – Just like in English, to dot the i’s means to take great care over your work

(ficar com, ter) a pulga atrás da orelha – To lack confidence, or be mistrustful

Pôr-se a pau – to be very careful, be on guard

Pôr água na fervura – To put water in the boiling water means to try and calm someone down.

Pôr paninhos quentes – According to the C1 guide, this means to try and conciliate, for example when a friend has acted badly and you are trying to defend them, but when I looked around for the origin, I found Priberam defines “paninhos quentes” as “temporary solutions”, so this would be something like papering over the cracks. Both meanings seem to exist, so… 🤷🏼‍♂️

Prometer mundos e fundos – Make grand promises you can’t keep

Procurar uma agulha num palheiro – Just like English, look for a needle in a haystack

Sem pés nem cabeça – Illogical, meaningless.

Ser um troca-tintas – To be a turncoat, or modify your opinions according to your audience.

Tirar o cavalo (ou cavalinho) da chuva – Everybody’s favourite Portuguese expression, this. To bring your little horse in out of the rain means to finally give up on something.

Trepar paredes – To climb the walls, meaning to be completely desperate

Trocar alhos por bugalhos – To swap garlic for oak apples, meaning to mix up two completely unrelated things.

Ter lata – To be cheeky

Uma mão lava a outra – One hand washes the other, just like the English expression, except when we use it it sounds a bit sinister, implying two people are covering for each other in sometjing dishonest, but the definition is that this is just teamwork, basically. Again, looking around the web, I get the feeling people are using it in a slightly less sympathetic way than the official course definition claims, and more like the English version but I could be wrong.

Vira-casacas – a turncoat, literally!

Voltar à vaca fria – To return to the original subject after a digression.

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Vontade, Desejo

This is a short text trying to fit in as many expressions of will, intention or desire as possible. The expressions are from the Camões Institute’s C1 course. Thanks to Dani for the corrections.

Está nos meus planos fazer uma corrida daqui a três semanas. Tenho ideias de melhorar o meu desempenho da última corrida. Morro de vontade de manter uma velocidade alta durante a corrida inteira. Não suporto (a idea de) que* os meus tempos possam voltar a ser de mais do que uma hora como nas corridas do verão passado. Fiquei eufórico quando corri dez quilómetros em 55 minutos em outubro. Claro que preferia correr ainda mais rápido! Tenho ganas de ganhar a corrida mas não é provável e no fim das contas, deliro com cada corrida na qual ultrapasso os meus limites. Um dia claro cairia muito bem, e viria mesmo a calhar** se houvesse um vento forte nas minhas costas. Queira Deus que o clima*** esteja bom porque morro de aborrecimento quando corro em condições cinzentas e ventosas.

*=”I can’t bear (the idea) that…” This construction needs a noun immediately after it and when the verb does come, it’s subjunctive.

**=”vir a calhar” is a weird one and I think I got it wrong in the original text. Calha is a gutter so I took “vir a calhar” as something negative but it’s more like “being channelled in the right direction” so, like “cair muito bem” it has a sense of things turning out well by good luck. There’s a ciberdúvidas article about the expression if you want to know more. Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I made such a mess of this sentence that the marker didn’t really get what I was driving at at all 😔

***=I wanted to write “o tempo” but since that means “time” as well as “weather” it seems like it would be super-confusing here! Clima is more like “climate” than weather of course, so it sounds a little bit off.