Latino Voices

5 Beautiful Portuguese Words That You Just Can't Say In English

OK, time to create some new English words!
deixe a imagem falar por si só.
deixe a imagem falar por si só.

Here's a fact: Some foreign words just really don't have equivalents in other languages. It's too bad -- people who don't speak the native tongue may never fully know the true meaning of these often touchingly beautiful and expressive words.

But we're here to help. To start you off, here are five gorgeous Portuguese words that don't really have a sufficient English translation. They're sure to enrich your non-English vocabulary, or maybe just leave you wishing there was a better, more-accepted way to convey these thoughts or feelings in English.

1. "Saudade"

brazilian people hugging

It's a mixture of longing for a person, place or pretty much anything in the world and nostalgia for someone or something that is no longer near or with you, whether its absence is temporary or permanent. This prominent word is used by Portuguese speakers A LOT.

Tem quase um ano que eu não vou ao Brasil e estou morrendo de saudades.

Rough translation: I haven't been to Brazil in almost a year and I'm dying of that longing feeling.

2. "Apaixonar"

little boy playing with little girl

To fall in love with someone or something. Technically, the word in English would be "impassion," however it's not used in the same way and doesn't share the same word tense. Apaixonar is essentially the act of falling in love, it's the word used for that period in between "I like you" and "I love you."

Cada dia que passa eu me apaixono mais por você.

Rough translation: With everyday that passes, I fall in love with you more.

3. "Cafuné"


The act of running your fingers through someone's hair -- yes, there's a word for that. However, this one may only resonate with Brazilian Portuguese speakers.

Eu queria que você me fizesse um cafuné.

Rough translation: I wanted you to run your fingers through my hair.

4. "Lindeza"

brazilian people hugging

Prettiness, used as a noun to describe someone or something, and even at times as a term of endearment. When speaking English, we would never call someone "prettiness" -- a "beauty" perhaps, but never the former. The two words just simply don't carry the same weight in both languages.

Que lindeza!

Rough translation: What prettiness!

5. "Xodó"


Another term of endearment, used particularly in northern parts of Brazil to describe the person you're in a relationship with, however loosely or officially. It's how you refer to your significant other, without having to use the word "boyfriend," "girlfriend" or "spouse," but that carries the same meaning.

Estou com saudades do meu xodó.

Rough translation: I miss my boo (closest thing we've got).

Bonus: Words ending in -inho... like beijinho.

amor no brazil

Pro-tip: If you add -inho to the end of almost any word in Portuguese, it's essentially the English equivalent of adding "little" before it.

Me da um beijinho!

Rough translation: Give me a little kiss!

And words ending in -ão... like amorzão.

amor no brazil

Now reverse that... If you add -ão to the end of almost any word in Portuguese, it's the English equivalent of attaching "big" before it.

Meu amorzão!

Rough translation: My big love!

We know, these are some pretty great words, right? Still wondering why we don't have them in English...


Us too!

Note: While there may be literal translations of some of these words in English, the way that they're used in Portuguese gives them their own unique meanings -- which is why we've included them here.

Seemed like the right call

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