List of European Portuguese Words

List of European Portuguese Words

Today I am going to speak about some of my favourite words in my favourite language and for that I made a list of European Portuguese words. I will describe these words a bit and give you some information about them. Bare in mind, the definitions are my own and I didn’t take them from any dictionary. But what better thing than to hear the own interpretation of a native speaker, right? Besides I figured that if you wanted to have a definition from a dictionary, you would just go and check one yourself =) Take a look at it and enjoy!

List of European Portuguese words

=> Don’t forget to visit also my post about Useful Portuguese Phrases HERE <=


Saudade” Saudade” is on the top of this list because it is a word almost exclusively Portuguese. Only the Portuguese, nostalgic as we are, could come up with a Noun to simbolize the “feeling of missing something or someone in a nostalgic kind of way”.

Nostalgia Following the previous word I cannot stop myself from showing another one which describes the Portuguese people so well. I guess there is no need to translate this one. Yes, Portuguese and English speakers use the same word with the same meaning, only reading it in a slightly different way (nosTALgia in English, while nostalGIa in Portuguese). However, I am to guess that if we were to record a Portuguese person speaking vs an English person speaking their entire lives, we would come to conclude that the Portuguese interactions would contain this word many more times. This is due to our culture and way of being. We are indeed, very nostalgic people and we tend to think of the past with a trace of melancholy and to often speak about it. It is not really sad, it is just the way we are.

=> Find out more about Portuguese Words Pronunciation HERE <=

Fado –  This is not only the name of our famous type of music (for more information on this search my following posts in the section “Culture”), but it also means “destiny with a somehow melancholic and perhaps tragic fate”. It is not a coincidence that so many of our “Fado” songs have the word “triste” associated with it.

=> Are you interested in the Portuguese Culture? Don’t miss my thoughts on it HERE <=

Triste – Just to give you a heads-up on what I meant before, this word means “sad”.

DesenrascarOk, enough with the sadness, melancholy and drama already! You know, we are also kind of cool and fun people and we also always try to see the bright side in life. Therefore, we invented this verb as a way of describing “the act of doing something in a crafty way to get out of a bad situation or a situation which, at first sight, is not convenient”. For example, if someone else comes to dinner and we were not expecting it, we will say “It’s ok, we will ‘desenrascar’ something for him to eat”, which means we will find something somewhere (even if it is the leftovers from three days ago which are at the end of the fridge prepared to go to the trash) for this person to eat. Hey, in a Portuguese table, there is always place for one more! This word can also apply for many other situations, but you have to know, a Portuguese person will always be capable of “desenrascar-se” (himself/herself) in the most crafty and sometimes funny and a bit dubious ways.

EspalhafatosoThis is an awesome adjective, just by the way it sounds. It is also magical concerning its meaning, which is “something or someone, which makes quite an impression in others by its explosive and sometimes too noticeable way of approaching things or of showing-off. Objects can also be “espalhafatosos”, like dresses, for example. You can say “Aquela mulher é tão espalhafatosa que trouxe um vestido todo espalhafatoso”, meaning “That woman is so espalhafatosa that she wore that espalhafatoso dress.” Not only is the lady “espalhafatosa”, but she also dresses a dress which is “espalhafatoso”. Isn’t it just amazing how this word sounds?

PreguiçaThis word means “laziness” and I have one thing or two to say about this. I feel myself as a quite lazy person, and I hate that. Portuguese people, however, are in general not lazy at all, contrarily to what sometimes I have heard around. Just look at Switzerland, a country with a large percentage of Portuguese people who emigrated there in search for a better life….Portuguese make a really good impression there, since they are considered as very-hard working. Switzerland is a great (although small) country and I hope in my heart that my beloved compatriots have something to do with it.

AchincalharHere is another verb, which shows the richness of the Portuguese language. Achincalhar is the same as “making fun of or bothering another person, or making something just to make the other person feel small and insignificant. Sure, we could use much more conventional verbs that convey the same meaning, but this verb is just too good and “slangish” not to be learnt. If you want to hear someone using this, just click here, but I warn you…there will be bad words involved.

GiroThis word is an adjective and it is used to describe “someone or something which is extremely cute, interesting or sweet”. Seriously, we use it so many times I am sure I missed some of its meanings. We can say that a guy is “giro”, a story is “gira”, a piece of clothes is “giro/gira”, a curiosity is “giro”. You will hear us saying all the time “Ah, que giro!”. Be aware that in Brazilian Portuguese it has a complete different meaning, and it is normally used as “Vamos dar um giro.”, which is “Let’s go for a walk”, thus “giro” meaning “walk” in this case. In fact, we Portuguese also use it with that meaning sometimes.

=> Want to find out more about the differences between Brazilian vs European Portuguese? Click HERE <=

TadinhoOk, technically that is not a word in the dictionary, because the real word would be “Coitado”, meaning “Poor thing”.  However, in European Portuguese we love to use diminutives to speak about pretty much anything. Thus, we picked up the word “Coitado” and we add the diminutive “inho”, transforming it into “Coitadinho”. Not happy with this, though, we chop out the beginning of the word, transforming it into “Tadinho”. It still means “poor thing or poor one”, but used this way it has such a much deeper meaning. We can use it when some tragedy strikes, when we see someone who had a misfortune but we also will use it to speak about some small animal or child, who is too cute to be true or that just did some very nice thing or that is just sound asleep. Like, we look at the child, she is sound asleep and we feel a warmth looking at her cause she is so cute and it is just too cute to contain inside without saying anything, so the best thing we have is “Oh, tadinha!”. We just overuse this word. Dude, we really overuse it!

List of European Portuguese Words

I hope these words will make you understand a little bit more of the Portuguese language. I know it was great fun for me to write about them and I hope you have as much fun reading it. I will be posting more Portuguese fun words in the future, so don’t be a stranger. Come by and leave your comments. Is there any specific European Portuguese word you would like to see addressed?



Do you want to learn more about the basics of European Portuguese? Common language courses are too expensive and you are looking for structured and high-quality lectures? Then check out my European Portuguese Language Course.

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6 thoughts on “List of European Portuguese Words

  1. Olá Mia,
    another great article. My personal favorite is Tadinho 🙂 I like that Portuguese people use it both for sad things, but also for cute little things sometimes.
    Keep up the awesome work.

    1. Thank you very much Dominik! Please keep coming back here to my little “tadinho” website. =)

  2. Hi, Mariana.

    Like you, I love words and the varied meanings they carry when they cross cultural and geographic boundaries.

    My first language is French and it’s easy for me to relate to this blog.

    Many Europeans that have brought their language to the Americas know this as well.

    I have learned a few Portuguese expressions today and I will return in the future to pick up a few more.

    Thanks. Paul

    1. Thank you very much for your comment Paul! Please do come back to the website 😉 I will be adding more posts and materials soon! 

  3. Hey there! I’m actually interested on learning new languages. I found your article very informative and helpful. I already learned several languages like Tagalog, English, and Spanish. I think that Portuguese is a very interesting language to learn. But I have a question, is Portuguese similar to Spanish? I really appreciate your response.

    1. Hi John! Thank you for your comment! In fact, Portuguese and Spanish are quite similar, since they are from the same family of languages, namely the Romance languages. Italian, French and even Romanian are also belonging to the same tree of languages. However, Portuguese defers greatly  from Spanish in terms of pronunciation. European Portuguese has a more “closed” accent and if you want to know more about this I advise you to check my other post about the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. You can find there the way that Portuguese people pronounce the words and the vowels, more specifically. If you know Spanish, you would  have less difficulties learning vocabulary and grammar of European Portuguese , but you would probably have trouble with the accent. Hope this answered your question! Please come back, I will be adding more content and also materials! Maybe Portuguese will be the next language to learn ? 😉

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