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Brazilian football, slang and phrases

Slang is the hallmark of the language of a social group.

Brazilian football, slang and phrases

Last update: 11/10/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Slang had its origin in the speech of marginalized groups who did not want to be understood by those who did not belong to the group, establishing itself as an important resource for communication and expression.

Dicionário Houaiss da língua portuguesa indicates as the first meaning for slang the informal language with a vocabulary rich in metaphorical, playful, elliptical and more ephemeral expressions than those of traditional language.

Slang is the hallmark of the language of a social group, as the Houaiss also defines: a particular language of those who perform the same profession, art, etc.; jargon.

The football slang or jargon in Brazil is a very studied and researched subject in the field of folklore, as well as its phrases, the nicknames of players, gestures, beliefs and superstitions.

With the popularization of football, that is played in the streets, squares, parks or other available spaces, the everyday speech informal language of the people was increasingly being incorporated to the sport.

Currently, the slang and phrases are permanently aggregated and enshrined in football in the country, both by the people and by the media. Certain expressions have become part of the football-related language, making it difficult to refer to certain matters otherwise.

There are some regional differences; however, certain expressions are known and used throughout Brazil. Today the slang and phrases are so common in Brazilian football that we virtually can not imagine it without them. 

Slang and phrases known in the Brazilian football jargon were selected from various sources (cited at the end of the text) and arranged alphabetically:

Abrir o bico – becoming tired, it is said of the player who is tired (opening the beak).
Abrir o placar (open the score) – scoring the first goal of the game.
Açougueiro (butcher) – violent athlete, unfair player.
Acréscimo (addition) – game time after 45 or 90 minutes.
Alambrado (wire fence) – wire mesh (wireframe) that separates the fans from the field.
Amistoso (friendly) – match played outside of a tournament or league with no point-counting.
Ao apagar das luzes (as the lights go out) – in the last minutes of the match.
Arco (arch) – a pole on the football field.
Arrumar a casa (clean house) – recompose the team after a strong attack by the opponent.
Artilheiro (artillerist) – the player who has the highest number of scored goals.
Baneira (bath) – offside.
Bicanca (conk) – a kick with the tip of the foot.
Boca do gol (mouth of the goal) – the front of the target or goal.
Boca do jacaré (alligator Mouth) – exit from the locker rooms.
Bola na rede (ball in the net) – goal scored.
Bola perigosa ou venenosa  (poisonous or dangerous Ball) – kicked ball that leads to danger of a goal.
Bola quadrada  (square Ball) - botched or bad pass.
Cá e lá, lá e cá  (here and there, there and here) – dynamic, very busy game.
Caceteiro (beater) – unfair player who attacks opponent violently.
Cafofa – weak kick, easy to defend.
 “Cai-cai” or dar o pira (skedaddle) – contusion simulation on several players from the same team to force the end of the match.
Caixa de surpresas (box of surprises) – justification for football’s lack of logic.
Camisa doze (number twelve Jersey) – the fans.
Carimbar (to stamp) – kick the ball with violence against an obstacle within the field (barrier, beams or the body of an opponent).
Carimbar a rede (stamp the net) – score a Goal.
Carrinho (cart) – disarm attempt, when the player dives with both feet on the front, side or behind the opponent.
Catando borboleta (butterfly catching) – when the goalkeeper gets out of the goal after a high ball and can not catch it.
Cartola (top hat) – an ironic and hostile way to call the leaders of football clubs or institutions.
Catimba – unsportsmanlike system that tries to take advantage and irritate opponents through simulations of injury, complaining and delays in putting the ball into play, aiming to disrupt the game or gain time.
Cavar um pênalti ou uma falta (dig a penalty or a foul) – simulate.
Cera (wax) – delay in putting the ball back to the game for gaining time.
Chapéu (hat) – when the player gets the ball after making the ball go over the opponent.
Chapuletada – strong kick or violent foul.
Cheio de gás (full of gas) – Player with great disposition.
Coradeira (whimper) – complaints and excuses after a loss.
Chutaço – strong kick.
Chutão – a kick without any direction.
Chuva de gols (rain of goals) – victory by many goals.
Chuveiro ou chuveirinho (shower or little shower) – high ball thrown into the opposing penalty area.
Cobra (snake) – playmaker, good player.
Corpo mole (limp body) – lack of commitment.
Dar de bandeja (give in a tray) – a gift; a pass made in the right measure.
Descer a lenha (beat with a stick) – be violent.
Devolver quadrada (returning square) – return the ball badly.
Entortar (warp) – make a spectacular dribble.
Esticar a rede (stretch the net) – score a Goal.
Fechar o gol (close the goal) – when the goal keeper makes numerous defenses avoiding or reducing the number of goals received.
Fominha (greedy) – individualistic player who wants to decide everything alone, even though having a companion in better game conditions.
Frango (fowl) – goal received by failure or inability of the keeper.
Garantir o bicho (ensure the score) – ensure a favorable outcome for the team.
Gaveteiro (drawer) – judge or player who accepts a bribe.
Gol relâmpago (lightning goal) - very quick goal made in the first few seconds of the game.
Gol chorado (cried goal) – a goal that was hard score. 
Jogo embolado (entangled game) – a confusing game without defined tactics.
Jogo aberto (open game) – game played in an offensive manner.
Jogo fechado (closed game) – game played defensively.
Jogar na retranca (playing in the boom) – same as above.
Lanterninha (usher) – Team at the last position in a tournament or championship.
Linha burra (dumb line) – intentional advancement of the defense to cause the opponent’s offside.
Marca da cal (lime marking) – the penalty spot.
Mata-mata (playoff) – a tournament where the team that loses in direct confrontation is eliminated.
Morrinho (artilheiro) [Mound (artillerist)] – a protrusion in the grass that alters the trajectory of the ball, deceiving the goalkeeper.
Morte súbita (sudden death) – first goal scored in overtime and that defines the game winner.
Muralha  (wall) – barrier. The word is also used for a compact defense and a good goal keeper.
Na gaveta (in the drawer) – the goal in which the ball enters in the junction of the goalpost with the crossbar.
Nas nuvens (in the clouds) – very high ball kicked towards the goal.
Onde dorme a coruja (where the owl sleeps) – goal in the angle between the goalpost and the crossbar.
Parede (wall) – barrier.
Passe com açúcar (pass with sugar) – throwing the ball from one player to another accurately.
Paulistinha – thigh muscle injury, often caused intentionally by the adversary. Same as tostão (penny).
Roseira (rosebush) – the goal net.
Sacudir o filó (shake the tulle) – score a goal.
Sair do jejum (break the fast) – scoring a goal after a long time without doing it.
Segurar o jogo (hold the game) – curb indiscipline.
Tapetão (big carpet) – victory won in the sports or common courts, when there are confirmed, annulled or amended match results.
Tapete-verde (green carpet) – grass.
Tijolada ou tijolo (brick hit or brick) – strong kick.
Totó – subtle touch for diverting the ball's trajectory.
Tranco (bump) – push the player applies to the opponent to take the ball from him.
Travessão (crossbar) – beam that limits the top of the goal.
Trivela – a kick with the outside front of the foot.
Última volta do ponteiro (last turn of the clocks hands) – term used by narrators when the match reaches its last minute.
Valorizar a posse da bola (valuing the ball) – holding the ball to pass the time in a positive outcome.
Zebra – positive result for a team that succeeds in beating a stronger opponent.
Zona de perigo (danger zone) – the goal area.

Recife, 23 July 2012.

sources consulted

HOUAISS, Antonio; VILLAR, Mauro de Salles; FRANCO, Francisco Manoel de Mello. Dicionário Houaiss da língua portuguesa. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2009.

NERY, Alfredina. Gíria e jargão, a língua muda conforme situação. Available at: <>. Accessed:23 jul. 2012.

PENNA, Leonam; PENNA, Manoela. Dicionário popular de futebol: o ABC das arquibancadas. Edição revista e atualizada. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1998.

PRETI, Dino. O léxico na linguagem popular: a gíria. Available at: . Accessed: 23 jul. 2012.

ROSSATO, José Carlos. Futebol no folclore. Anuário do 33º Festival do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, ano 24, n. 27, p. 50-70, ago. 1997.

ROSSATO, José Carlos. A gíria no futebol: visão introdutória. Anuário do 34º Festival do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, year 25, n. 28, p. 31-46, ago. 1998.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Futebol brasileiro, gíria e frases feitas. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 August 2009.