Brazilian Portuguese has an array of idioms that are related to body parts. In this article, I will list a few that are often used in everyday conversational Portuguese. You should always keep an eye on these expressions, and if possible, learn them by heart.
1. Falar pelos cotovelos – the literal meaning of this idiom is “to speak through your elbows”. We use it to refer to someone that never stops talking, a chatterbox.
Eg: Minha mãe sempre diz que eu falo pelos cotovelos. (My mother always says that I talk too much).
2. Dor de cotovelo – here is another expression with the word “elbow”. This literally translates to “elbow pain”, and it refers to jealousy towards another’s possession. This can also be used for “romantic jealousy”.
Eg: Por que ela me trata tão mal? Só pode ser dor de cotovelo! (Why does she treat me so badly? It must be jealousy!)
3. Cabeça-quente – this translates as “to be hot headed” and it is used to refer to someone that is always angry or a person that gets mad at something trivial.
Eg: José é um cabeça-quente. Ele está irritado somente por que eu deixei a porta aberta. (José is a spitfire. He is irritated just because I left the door open)
4. Cabeça-dura – here is one more idiom with the word “head”. The literal meaning of this expression in “hard-head”, and I guess in American English the words “hard-headed” are used with the same meaning. Whenever someone is very stubborn, we say they are “cabeça-dura”. “Cabeça-dura” always has a bad connotation.
Eg: Deixa de ser cabeça-dura e escuta o meu conselho! (Stop being hard-headed and listen to my advice!).
5. Ser cara-de-pau – the literal meaning is “to be/have a wooden face”. We use it to refer to someone that is not easily embarrassed, a shameless person, but usually with a bad connotation.
Eg: Que cara de pau! Ele me pediu dinheiro, mas ainda não me pagou! (What a “jerk”! He is asking me for money, but he still hasn’t pay me back!)
6. Ser pé frio – this translates as to “to be a cold foot”, but it means someone that is unlucky, and everything conspires against them.
Eg: Nossa, você é muito pé frio! (Goodness, you are so unlucky!)
7. Passar a perna – the literal meaning is to use your leg to make someone trip, and it is used to refer to someone that takes advantage of others, often deceiving people.
Eg: Aquele vendedor passou a perna em mim! Ele me cobrou mais caro. (That sales clerk tricked me! He charged me a more expensive price).
8. Comer com os olhos – when people eat much more than what is necessary, they “eat with the eyes”. We use often use this idiom when eating tasty food.
Eg: Tô muito cheia! Tenho que parar de comer com os olhos. (I’m so full! I should stop eating!)
9. Ser dedo duro – “being a hard finger” is the same as being a snitch.
Eg: Meu irmão é um dedo duro. Ele contou para minha mãe que eu quebrei os óculos dela. (My brother is such a snitch! He told my mom I broke her glasses.)
10. Dar o braço a torcer – “to give your arm to be twisted” means you are very firm in your decision and are not easily persuaded. It can also refer to someone that is very stubborn.
Eg: Eu tentei convencer meu pai a vender a casa, mas ele não dá o braço a torcer. (I tried to convince my dad to sell the house, but he doesn’t change his mind).
Isso é tudo, pessoal. I hope you enjoyed learning these 10 idioms. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or suggestions to improve the content of this article. I’m all ears.
PS: Here is a video to helo you to pronounce each of them.