Brazilian Expressions Tell a Story

“The dewdrop fulfills the Lord’s will as much as the thunderstorm.” Anon

Recently I used the Brazilian expression, “If you don’t have a dog, you hunt with a cat.” I referred to watering my garden with a hose when it needed a big rain. This Brazilian expression and many others are full of “spice and emotion” for they communicate so vividly. They picture a people with quick minds and a good bit of humour.


You’ll hear the expressions in a work group–this one building a church in Minas Gerais.

We might respond to a far-out story with “You’re kidding” while Brazilians might say, “Fala sério” which means, “You’ve got to be joking.” Those words have a funny tone to them while “I can’t believe it” is more factual.

There are hundreds of saying but I’ll mention a few that I have used.“A grama é sempre mais verde do lado do vizinho-The grass is always greener on your neighbor’s yard.”

“Cada macaco no seu galho—Each monkey has its own branch.”                                “Um gato escaldado tem medo de agua fria—A scalded cat is afraid of cold water.”                                                                                                                                   “Deus escreve por linhas tortas—God writes straight with twisted lines.”           “Esmola demais, o santo desconfia—Too many alms and the saint is suspicious.


Children pick up the sayings and love to have fun with each other as in this foto.

I thought this one was really good, “Não cutuque a onça com vara curta—Never poke a jaguar with a short stick.” That saying has meaning for me for I’ve poked a few jaguars in my day—and I still do.

And here are a few we ought to have in English: “Jogar o verde para colher maduro—Throw out (or offer) the green fruit and pick the ripe.” The real meaning is to say something you think is half-true so that another person tells you a secret.” Now an interesting one: a Brazilian does not die but he “buttons his jacket—abotoa o seu paletó 

Or “Descascar o abacaxí—Peel the pineapple.” It means “To solve a tough problem.” That really makes sense for in Brazil when they say, “È um abacaxí” it means something is really a bad deal or a lemon.


Children pick up sayings so easily and they love choirs and putting on plays.

How about this, “Quem não chora, não mama. The one who doesn’t cry, doesn’t suckle.” A Brazilian does not let his hair down but he “Solta a franga” releases the chicken. If a Brazilian is wasting time, he “Ensaca a fumaça” meaning he puts smoke in a sack.

The Brazilians have an endless number of expressions that give a quick insight to a situation. The same goes for the Christian faith. Some scripture verses summarize so well the salvation that Jesus offers. As a teen, when I was sensing the great weight of sin in my life, at a church camp hope came to me through this verse, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. I suppose I was no worse than most teens but I felt the wrath of God for my failure to live for Him. That verse gave me hope.

Then in Brazil there was a key verse that I am sure often came up in my preaching, “There is no other name under heaven by which we might be saved…” Acts 4:12. In Brazil as in other places around the world, faith often focused on other things and persons than Jesus, the Saviour. That verse provides hope that goes beyond this life.

Then there is the verse in John 3:16 that says so much. I don’t need to write it down for I suppose you may know it by heart. But here it is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That truth offers insight and hope beyond any saying no matter the country or culture.


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