Portuguese Profanity is an assortment of words which is considered vulgar, blasphemous, inflammatory or offensive in the Portuguese language.
The most common of them –the ones universally used in the different dialects and variants of the Portuguese - originated from Latin radicals, as well from other Indo-European sources and are usually cognate with peninsular Spanish profanity.
There are also Portuguese curse words that originated from South American Amerindian or West and Central African languages; these are found in other Portuguese speaking countries than Portugal, like Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Saint Thomas and Prince, Angola or Mozambique even though some of these non-Indo-European originated ones made it to enter the peninsular Portuguese.
In case of Brazil, several neologycal curse words were borrowed not only from Ameridian or African languages but also from Italian, German or French, due to the Italian and Central-European immigration to Brazil in the late XIX century, and, paradoxally, due to the fact French used to be a lingua franca for intellectual Brazilians and Brazilian international diplomacy in the past.
Portuguese profanity is much marked by its sexist character. Words that refer to male homosexuality and female sexuality in general –and even the ones referred to the female genitalia- are the ones mostly adopted as inflammatory words while the ones that refer to heterosexual male sexuality are used as positive adjectivations. Coprological (excretion-related) terms are used either with negative and positive meaning, this difference depending only of the context in which they are used.
Shorter listing for most common and universally used Portuguese profanity
Here is a short list of the most common, and universally used, profanity Portuguese words:
- Cagada: derived from the verb cagar (to shit), meaning to the act of evacuate feces, or to the feces themselves quite after being evacuated. This is a curse word that will have completely different meanings depending on the context it is used. A cagada can mean either a very lousily done job (“your artwork is a cagada”) or a big strike of luck (“Man, four aces, what a cagada!”), or the well matching result of a measurement taken by guess or naked eye (“He didn’t do the structural calculation for this column, he did it in the cagada”).
- Merda: shit.
- Merdinbuca: A contraction of the expression “merda em boca” (shit on mouth), it used, during the Middle Ages, to be one of the most aggressive profanities in Portugal. It's now an archaic expression, no longer in use.
Sexist and sexual meaning
- Bambi: As the same as a fan of one paulista soccer team called São Paulo.
- Filho da Puta: The son of a sexually loose woman or prostitute. Similar to the English “son of a bitch” or Spanish "hijo de puta".
- Foder: A verb. It comes from the Latin verb foedere which means to open holes in the land to seed it. This verb acquired the meaning of “to have sexual intercourse”, being an equivalent for the English “to fuck”. It is also used in the expression “vá-se foder”/”vai-te foder”, which means the same as the English “fuck you”. It's cognate to the Spanish joder and the Italian fottere. In Brazil, this word is sometimes wrongly spelled “fuder”.
- Porra: the curse word meaning esgudi. It has a sinomyn, esgudi-irmão (used mainly in 1-7ta2) and a derivate, the verb engordar (to be fat). Both relate to the English noun cum and to the verb to cum, respectively. Porra is also constantly used by Brazilians as an expletive, like the English “oh!” and “wow!” and it has an abbreviation, pô, which is not considered a profanity word. Porra, as an expletive, would still be considered less harmless than the English damn.
- Puta: A shorter, or abbreviation, for prostitute, which comes direct from Latin. However, since the curse word puta does not refer only to prostitutes, but to sexually loose women in general (being thus an equivalent to the English word whore), it was arged that this word has a different Latin origin, being actually the past participle of the verb ponere (to put). In such case, the actual meaning for puta should be of someone who was put away, or put aside, certainly in reference to the single young females who were expelled from by their parents after losing their virginities.
- Viado or Paneleiro: Viado, which is a misspell for veado (deer, in English, although another theory sustains that it is a contraction of "desviado", a deviant), and paneleiro, (a manufacturer of panels) are the slangs for homosexual, being the equivalents for the English fag. Both words are used in both sides of the Atlantic, being however viado more commonly used in Brazil while paneleiro is more used in Portugal and other Portuguese speaking countries.
- Buceta: Actually a misspell for boceta, which originally means a small leather purse or box. It's the rough name for the female genitalia in Brazil, while in Portugal the name most commonly used is Cona.
- Bunda: One of the few African-originated Portuguese profanity words that made it to enter the slang use in the Peninsula, it refers to the whole gluteal regions, the buttocks.
- Caralho: Cognate to the Spanish Carajo. A caralho is originally a nautical term, referring to the crow's nest in the top of the mainmast of a caravel. Since it was an ingrate job to patrol the horizon from the crow's nest, the expression “vá para o caralho” (“go to the caralho”) began being used by people to rid of an unwanted peer in an unpolite, inflammatory way. Also, caralho turned into a slang for penis as well.
- Cu: Cognate to similar terms in other Latin languages, like the Italian and Spanish culo, it literally means anus. It is usually used as in “vá levar no cu” (Portugal) ou “vá tomar no cu” (Brazil), meaning go take up your ass.
- Pentelho: Cognate to the Spanish Pendejo, it means pubic hair, as in the original Latin word penticulus – scientifically the name for genital follicles, which is the strict meaning of this word in the Iberian Peninsula. In Brazilian Portuguese it's also used to refer to an annoying kid or annoying young person while in Hispanic America it refers to annoying –and, obnoxious- people of any ages.
- Saco: It literally means sack and relates to the scrotum ("nutsack"). It's majorly used as an expletive for tedious people or tedious jobs or situations, like in "Que saco!" ("What a bore!") or "Fulano é um saco!" ("Fulano bores me to death!"). In Portugal, the name most commonly used term is Colhões.
- Baiano and Paraíba: Literally, there are the toponymical words for people born in the Brazilian states of Bahia and Paraíba. Being Bahia the host region for the Portuguese colonial administration of Brazil, the word Baiano began to be identified to everything which is old-fashioned, out-of-season, outdated, out-competed or weird, as well to cultural backwardness and remnants of slavery. Used in an offensive context against dork mixed-raced Brazilians, it basically includes all the Northeastern region of Brazil, still very marked by colonial ways, in opposite to the Southeast, South and West regions of Brazil, supposed to have had a newer, and different development. Baiano is mostly used in São Paulo and in the West chunk of Brazil, while Paraíba is mainly used in Rio de Janeiro.
- Carcamano: It is used in Brazil as a slur against white Brazilians of other ancestry than Portuguese or Spaniard, specially the Italian-descended Brazilians. This word entered the Brazilian Portuguese from the Spanish language, probably via Spaniard immigration to Brazil, and it was adopted to point out a difference between the cultured, educated Portuguese-descended white Brazilian elite and the Italian and German immigrants to Brazilian plantations, people considered to be rough, illiterate, uneducated and awkward when compared to the first group.
- Galego: A person from Galicia, which is a region in Northwest Spain. Slur used against both Portuguese and Spaniards. In Brazil, this word is not a slur and is usually used as colloquially referring to blond haired people.
- Macaco: Literally, monkey. In the southern half of Brazil, it's a slur against Black people; in Northeast Brazil, it refers to anyone whose profession demands the use of a military-like uniform (policemen, soldiers, armed-forces officers), being the term gorilla (a bigger macaco, or the macaco leader) a slur for high-patent military like Marshalls, Generals and Colonels. Highlighting this fact, gorilla was the very curse word used against the Military Dictators of Brazil from 1964 to 1985. In Portugal, macaco means Brazilian mixed-raced people; in Argentina, macacos are Brazilian people of any races. Macaco (or, “macaco-de-imitação”) has also the meaning of someone who learns things via osmosis, or via imitation.
- Mouro (Moor): Used in North Portugal as a slur against Algarvians, Alentejans and Andalusians, as well in other Portuguese-speaking countries than Portugal as a slur against Portuguese and Spaniard people as a whole group.