The best Brazilian insults


Time for some political incorrectness, folks.

Is there a way of cursing, of insulting someone in Brazil without losing your elegance? If you are a classy fellow, why don’t you promote one of these fine, vaguely obscure traditional bad words? There is a good chance the audience and maybe even your victim will enjoy your creative  insult repertoire.

My personal favorites:

1) Maracujá de gaveta – used against someone old (that also looks old). Literally it means “passion fruit in a drawer”. This tropical fruit gets really wrinkled after its due date – or if forgotten in some kitchen drawer. Ok, it is ageist. But it is oh-so-delicious. 

2) Mala sem alça – literally “suitcase without a handle”. It refers to someone really boring, unbearable. Try to carry your luggage when you are hurrying between flights. Picture what you feel when the handles break. You got the picture.

3) Xexelento – low quality, mediocre.

4) Vá lamber sabão – means “go lick soap” and it is pretty self-explanatory. It has a childish tone, so it is lighter than its adult versions, with more sexual connotations.

5) Sacripanta – someone despicable. This is an old-fashioned one and that’s its beauty. There is a good chance your victim never heard it. Pulha, mentecapto and biltre, other old timers, can have the same effect.

6) Lambisgóia – This is used to insult a woman – it means she is too easy. Try also piriguete and biscate.

Bonus – A few extras that might come handy when you lack words: bucéfalo, bruaca, bisonho, mequetrefe, toupeira, bostífero and energúmeno.

For some more ideas, check the “Dicionário Brasileiro de Insultos”, by Altair J. Aranha, that is on Google Books.

7 thoughts on “The best Brazilian insults”

  1. Just started reading your blog recently…funny and interesting and insightful. Thanks. I haven’t mastered the language yet, but wish I knew these phrases for our trip next month, to enlighten my relatives. My wife is from Curitiba and we’ll spend some time there. We live in Phoenix. Love Santa Fe.

  2. Thanks, Randy. I hope you enjoy learning Portuguese. I frequently hear from foreigners that it is the most beautiful (because they think of Bossa Nova) – I don’t know about that, but it is certainly a portal to a very rich culture, not only in Brazil, but also Portugal and so many African countries.

  3. Interesting post, though I must say, I don’t think it’s very elegant or classy to use a misogynistic insult like calling a woman ‘easy’!

    What’s the derivation of xexelento, do you know?


  4. Indeed, Renata. Of course, insulting is never elegant, and yes, that one is sexist. But I must confess I felt an irresistible need to be politically incorrect at least once.

  5. This was funny. I’m brazilian and can assure you I’ve never used some insults in this list, altough I know all of them, some are amazingly old and others are used only in some regions. You could consider including “Vai te catar”. It literally means “go pick yourself” and it’s used all over the country.

  6. I am sure you are a polite fellow, Vinicio, and would never, ever use these words! And thanks: vai te catar is absolutely delicious. I also like a similar one: vai catar coquinho!

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