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Homage to Brazil

Jul 2014

Language ,


Just in case you hadn’t heard, the FIFA World Cup kicked off earlier this month in Brazil. Teams from every corner of the world descended on the South American host with the goal of hoisting the World Cup Trophy aloft at the end of the month-long footballing spectacular.

In Brazil football is no mere sport. It is a passion, an obsession and a way of life. There is nothing that isn’t touched by the beautiful game. Even language bears the unmistakable marks of futebol.

For those who are interested in the home of the Canarinhos, here’s a little cheat sheet of helpful Brazilian phrases that’ll have people thinking you’re a local in no time.


Tudo bem?

How’s it going? Howzit? Ça va? Awright? Tudo bem?

Every country has a go-to greeting and Tudo bem is to Brazil as the Awright? is to Scotland. Like many informal greetings the usual answer to Tudo bem? is just to repeat it back.

“Tudo bem?”
“Tudo bem.”

Now you know how to say hello like a Brazilian let’s get to the interesting bits.

Fique tranquilo

If Brazilians value any one character trait, it’s optimism. It’s about finding the positive and not dwelling on the negatives.

Fique tranquilo loosely translates as don’t worry – although it means much more than that. Fique tranquilo is about looking for solutions or, if there aren’t any, it’s about not worrying about things you can’t control.

You missed the bus? Fique tranquilo. There’s another one in ten minutes and you can make friends while you wait.

You get knocked out in the group stages? Fique tranquilo. There’s another tournament in four years. And you can work on your half-time motivational speech while you wait.


In Scotland, we have (had) wicked, slick, quality, mint and solid. On the other side of the Atlantic, Brazil has legal.

If something’s cool, it’s legal.

Caipirinha? Legal.

Football? Legal.

Samba? Legal.

Adding a sixth World Cup to the Brazilian trophy cabinet? Definitely legal!

Like most slang no one really knows legal got here, so I’m just going to roll with it.

I’m legal like that.

A hora da onça beber agua

With the World Cup nearing its mid point we’re getting close to a hora da onça beber agua. Or, if you would like the English translation, the time that the jaguar drinks water.

I’m aware that that translation may not clear up the matter.

This lovely Brazilian phrase refers to a moment of truth. A test of character. The decisive hour. That moment when your captain steps up to take a penalty or when you go two-nil down in the final.

The jaguar goes to drink, but who has the courage to quench their thirst?


In 2006, veteran Chelsea striker Didier Drogba took to the airwaves to implore warring factions in his home country of Ivory Coast to throw down their weapons and open negotiations. The success of his speech led to the expression drogbacité, which means a combination of timing, speed and grace under pressure.

It’s even spawned a dance, based on the unique moves of the great man himself. Is there anything this footballing genius can’t do?

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