On this page I shall define and explain typical and untranslatable Brazilian words, however commonly used, you will not find them in the ordinary Brazilian Portuguese dictionary. For the coleur local I use them in my posts.


Alqueire – A piece of land of about five hectares.

Batucada – A sub-style of samba and refers to an African influenced Brazilian percussive style, usually performed by an ensemble, known as a Bateria. Batucada is characterized by its repetitive style and fast pace.

Brazuca – is slang for Brasileiro, a Brazilian born in Brazil. The FIFA football used for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil is baptised “Brazuka”.

Brazil biomesCaatinga – is a biome, which in the native Indian language tupi-guarani means White Forest. It is located on Brazil’s Northeast coast between the biomes Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica) and Cerrado (see map). The Caatinga is the largest dry forest region in South America and characterized by a semi-arid climate, low and irregular rainfall, fertile soils and apparently dry vegetation. It is a xeric scrubland and thorn forest, which consists primarily of small, thorny trees that shed their leaves seasonally. Cacti, thick-stemmed plants, thorny brush, and arid-adapted grasses make up the ground layer. Many annual plants grow, flower, and die during the brief rainy season.
The Caatinga biome comprises about 850.000 km2 (10% of the Brazilian territory), extending across eight states: Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, and parts of Minas Gerais. The Caatinga includes several enclaves of humid tropical forest. (For more information go to: http://www.brazadv.com/brazil_tours/caatinga.htm)

Cacau Cabruca – A cultivation form of low environmental impact based on the use of sub-bush (intermediate layers) of the native rainforest. A culture of economic interest, cocoa, under the protection of the dominant strata formed by the remaining trees, discontinuous and surrounded by natural vegetation, establishing a stable relation with the associated natural resources. Designed in a limited geographical area, it leads to direct harmonic man-nature relationship, providing the basis of a “genuine territory”.

Capoeira – A cleared area where new vegetation is growing.

80515-Cerrado_ecoregionCerrado – the name given to the Brazilian tropical savannah and is located on the large plateau that occupies the central highlands (see map). Influenced by the 4 surrounding biomes: Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica), Caatinga, Amazon and Pantanal, the fauna and flora of the Cerrado is extremely rich, while the climate is hot and semi-humid. The Cerrado is the second largest Brazilian biome comprising a total area of app. 2 Mio km2 (20% of the Brazilian territory). An ecological jewel in its own right, as it is the world’s most bio-diverse savannah, with 10.000 species of plants, nearly half of which are found nowhere else on earth, and more mammals than the African bush. (For more information go to: http://www.brazadv.com/brazil_tours/cerrado.htm)

IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistic.

Imazon – Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia = Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon.

Mamata – a government in which financial benefits are given to politicians and protected persons without any services in return in relation to the volume of the benefits received.

Maracutaia (literally: Shocker) – is a mischievous and illegal manoeuvre against one or several persons, to obtain profit or benefits for another person or particular group. It is an act of bad faith.

Maria-Chuteira – A stereotype for females who are notorious for their amorous relations with football players.

Medida Provisória – In Brazilian constitutional law, a Medida Provisória (presidential decree) is issued by the President of the Republic, at his discretion, without the participation of the legislative branch. The measure has the force of law, albeit not being really a law in the strict technical sense of this term. Only in cases of importance and urgency the Chief Executive may issue decrees, which he should submit later to Congress. The decree stays in force for sixty days, extendable for another 60. After this time, if Congress does not approve it, and convert it into law, the measure will lose its force.

PAC – Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento – Acceleration Program for Growth.

Petralha – The contraction of PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores = Brazilian labour party) and the Irmãos Metralha (The Beagle Boys in English). The word identifies a member of a moralistic political party who when in power, deceives, steals, kills, lies, corrupts, installing a kleptocracy, in other words a state governed by crooks.

Plano Decenal de Energia – Ten Year Plan for Energy of the Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), the entity responsible for planning of the energy sector.

Puxadinho – An irregular construction (without legal approval of public institutions), which is in itself an extension or attachment to a building. One form of informal construction by which the low income population solves the problem of space without investing a lot in a complete renovation or purchase of another property of greater size.

Rolezinho – In Brazil’s informal language, it means “go for a little walk” or “strolling”. It is a neologism to define a type of flash mob or coordinated meeting of hundreds of people in places such as squares, parks and shopping centres. The meetings are announced via internet, often through social networks like Facebook.
The phenomenon is, according to sociologists and professors, a social “apartheid” which denounces social and racial inequality in the country.

Sumaúma – kapok tree.