Portuguese profanity

Profanity in the Portuguese language – words and phrases considered vulgar, blasphemous, inflammatory or offensive – can be divided into several categories. Many are used as insults, and all express the utterer's annoyance. Considerable differences are found among varieties of Portuguese, such as those in Portugal and in Brazil.


The most common words of Portuguese profanity, the ones universally used in the different dialects and variants of Portuguese, originated from Latin radicals, as well from other Indo-European sources and often 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, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola or Mozambique even though some of these non-Indo-European-originated ones made it to enter the peninsular Portuguese.

In the case of Brazil, several neologistic curse words were borrowed not only from Amerindian or African languages but also from Italian, German or French, due to the Italian and Central-European immigration to Brazil in the late 19th century and due to the fact French used to be a lingua franca for intellectual Brazilians and Brazilian international diplomacy in the past. While the Spanish language abounds in blasphemous interjections, Portuguese lacks in this regard.[1]

Portuguese profanity, just like in any other Western language, is much marked by its sexual and scatological character. Scatological terms are used either with negative or positive meaning, depending on the context in which they are used.

Profanities in Portuguese are referred as profanidades, impropérios, baixo calão, obscenidades, vulgaridades. Palavrão means literally big word which can be translated in bad or ugly word, and dizer/falar palavrões (to say/ to talk) is to use obscene language. Praguejar (Portugal) and Xingar (Brazil) is to swear, to curse.

Profanities by geographical region

Similarly to other internationally spoken languages, Portuguese profanities' offensiveness varies with context and geographical location, even within the same country.

Profanities in Portugal

In terms of offensiveness Portugal can be divide in two main areas: Northern Portugal and Central-and-Southern Portugal. Northern Portugal tends to be more prone to using curse words as manner of common informal speech with the vast majority of profanities being used as a way of conveying emotion rather than as way of insulting someone. The offensiveness of this words and expressions is thus dependent mainly on the tone and context. The center and south of Portugal, especially in urban areas, tend to have a more polished speech in regards to swear words with such expressions being used primarily with the intention of offending someone or simply as interjections when something bad happens.

Sexual related profanities:

  1. "Como o caralho" means "as fuck", as in "Grande como o caralho/Big as fuck", and, while being profanity, is rarely insulting.
  1. "Foda-se!" is comparable to the interjection "fuck it!"
  2. "Fode-te" or "Vai-te foder" means "fuck you".
  1. "Filho(a) da puta"(IU) is equivalent to "son of a bitch" and can be used for both males ("filho") and females ("filha"). Also used as a common interjection in the north.
  2. "Puta que pariu" (IU). It's an interjection and can denote surprise or emotional intensity.

Scatological related profanities:

Racial profanities:

Profanities in Brazil

Many of the most used curse words and phrases of Brazilian Portuguese are the same as in European Portuguese. There are exceptions, however:



  1. Margit Raders, Julia Sevilla (eds.) (1993) III Encuentros Complutenses en Torno a la Traducción: 2 - 6 de Abril de 1990 p.36
  2. Ganho, Ana Sofia; McGovern, Timothy. Using Portuguese: A Guide to Contemporary Usage, Cambridge University Press, Mar 18, 2004, ISBN 1139449389
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