Brazilian Body Slang


Homem Camarão


People can be cruel can’t they? They can also be pretty hilarious and at times the line between the two can be oh so slender. Just the other day I was absentmindedly listening in on a conversation between Mrs Eat Rio and one of her friends (let’s call her Maria) when I heard something strange. The conversation was focussing on one of Maria’s ex-boyfriends who, according to the conversation, had been rather dull and a complete gym-freak. What Maria said next caught my attention – she described the guy as a camarão.

“A camarão?” I thought to myself, “He was a shrimp?”. What could that possibly mean? Was his skin a strange shade of orangey-pink? Or perhaps he was kind of stinky? Wrong! It turns out that this is a way of referring to someone who has a tasty body but an ugly face. So, so cruel…(but also made me chuckle).

This set me off wondering what other funny phrases there are to describe people’s body parts. Turns out there are quite a few:


Tchau is how Portuguese speakers say goodbye. Tchauzinho is like a ‘little goodbye’. So perhaps we’re talking about someone little and/or cute waving goodbye?


Tchauzinho! – Er no, that’s not it…


Think again sea otter fans! In fact the tchau happens when someone waves goodbye and the tchauzinho reveals itself at the same time: as the hand does its conventional side to side waving motion, a flabby tricep will do its own little wobbly wave goodbye at the same time. For the British, I could have explained this with two little words: Bingo wings!


Batata da Perna

Nothing pejorative with this term but it still struck me as kind of funny when I first heard it. Batata da perna means literally ‘potato of the leg’ and refers to that lump of muscle directly below the back of the knee joint. I was half way through telling Mrs Eat Rio how I thought this was a pretty funny word to use, when she pointed out that we English speakers refer to the very same muscle as a baby cow… Fair point!


Batata da Perna?? – what a ridiculous name for part of the leg!



Pneuzinho and Pochete

Isn’t it reassuring that some things are the same wherever you go? I felt sure that there must be an equivalent phrase for what we British call a ‘spare tyre’ (that wide ring of flab that hangs around the waist of many an overindulgent man). It turns out that here in Brazil they use a slightly cutesier version of the same phrase: pneuzinho (little tyre).


“It’s not a spare tyre – it’s an excess of tastiness”.


If we’re talking typical body shapes, then women tend to keep their ‘excess tastiness’ a little lower down on their abdomen, which has given rise to the other term, pochete. 


A tough look to pull off in any language. Portuguese: Pochete; British: Bum bag; US: Fanny pack (don’t get me started on that last one).


OK, so there’s a little round-up of cruel phrases to keep us all feeling suitably inadequate. I’ll leave you with an example of how subtle linguistic changes can make all the difference. I’ve had more than one guest on my food tours remark “It’s strange – considering you’re a food guide, I expected you to be fatter”.

Fatter. Not ‘fat’. Fatter. Never have two little letters hurt so much…


9 replies
  1. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    “Think again sea otter fans”: LOL!
    And you would not believe the joy that the fattER account brought me (a non intentional put down of the upmost quality and a reminder that I’ve still much to learn).
    This is definitely one of your best posts yet. So ‘well rounded’ :-)

  2. Anna @ shenANNAgans
    Anna @ shenANNAgans says:

    Bahaha…. We call people with ugly mugs Prawns here in Aus. Good body, face like a smashed crab. So inappropriate, but says it all. Why is anyone referring to or even talking about the that lump of muscle directly below the back of the knee joint? I can’t think of one time I might even need too? Interesting….. Shall drop it into a conversation this week and see how it goes down. Thanks for the giggle, this post was rather amusing. :)

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Hmmm, something like “I was out running when I got a massive cramp in my calf” or “I went paintballing and Dave shot me point-blank in the calf…”

      Not sure why all my example involve pain – I don’t suppose many people say stuff like “Ooh, my calf feels GREAT today!” ;)

      “Face like a smashed crab” – Ha ha ha! So Australian! :D

  3. Tom From England
    Tom From England says:

    You mean 3 little letters? fat – > fatter. ;)

    So have you never heard somebody being called a “shrimp” in the UK? At least where I grew up, it was used as a synonym for wimp. Somebody weak and skinny,


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