Futebol Vocabulary

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Introduction to Brazilian Portuguese:

-Portuguese (português) is similar to Spanish but also quite distinct. Portuguese has a variety of sounds that do not exist in Spanish. Portuguese is related to Galician, whereas what is now known as Spanish is really castellano, which is the dialect spoken in Castilla.

-Brazilian Portuguese is pronounced differently than Continental Portuguese, and Brazilian Portuguese has a very distinct accent from Continental Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese has a variety of state and regional accents in and of itself.

-Continental Portuguese is Portuguese from Portugal.

-Brazilian Portuguese is the Portuguese spoken in Brazil. Brazilian Portuguese has been influenced by African languages from West Africa, from Central Africa in the Congo River basin, and from Angola. Brazilian Portuguese is also influenced by the various Tupí-Guaraní peoples who were the indigenous inhabitants of Brazil.

Brazilian Portuguese is the same language as Continental Portuguese but with a lot of grammatical and pronunciation differences that have been standardized over time. Many things said in Brazil are grammatically incorrect for people from Portugal, but over time they have become standardized and deemed grammatically correct. Brazilian Portuguese has a lot of words borrowed from African languages such as Yoruba spoken in Nigeria and a few other West African countries. The word “moleque” meaning kid is a Yoruba word. Brazilian Portuguese also has a lot of words that come from the Tupí-Guaraní “Indians” (for lack of a better word) The Tupí-Guaraní people were the indigenous people that inhabited part of South America. They still exist but in greatly reduced numbers due to disease, slavery, and colonialism. Maracujá for instance is a Tupí-Guaraní word. It means “passion fruit.” “Carioca”, which now means a native of Rio de Janeiro, is a Tupí-Guaraní word.

-Brazilian Portuguese is a rich and interesting language worthy of study, and anyone interested in learning has a variety of books, videos, audiobooks, and classes at their disposal.

Random Brazilian Portuguese Grammar Notes: Brazilians rarely answer questions with the word “sim” which means “yes,” rather Brazilians repeat the verb used in the question in the correct person and number. For example, “Você vai pra praia?” means “Are you going to the beach?” The answer to this is “Vou,” which means “I am going.” You might also hear “Vou, sim.” Brazilian Portuguese is complicated, and an explanation of it here would be straying too far off topic. I included this discussion of “sim” because it is a common thing said by people that do not know Portuguese very well or not at all.

O = “The” in the masculine form. Its plural is Os.

A = “The” in the feminine form. Its plural is As.

Um = a/an in the masculine. Its plural is uns (in the plural it means “some/ a few, etc)

Uma = a/an in the feminine. Its plural is umas.


Brazilian Portuguese Pronunciation Guide: 

Certain sounds are virtually impossible to explain their pronunciation without hearing them, so I’ve included some Google Translate links due to the audio feature Google Translate now has. Bear with the computer voice on the pronunciation. I did not know how to record pronunciations of the various unique Portuguese sounds and upload them into this guide.

Google Translate now has a feature where Portuguese words as wells as words in many common languages will be pronounced for you if you click on the audio button. This is very helpful to anyone that wants to learn how to pronounce the various sounds common in Portuguese. Below I’ll provide the links to various words using the sounds mentioned so you can hear their pronunciation.

R – The letter “R” is pronounced like an “H” when it begins a word in Brazilian Portuguese but not Continental Portuguese. The letter “R” is rolled when it is found in the middle of the word and not followed by a consonant. The letter ‘R” is pronounced like a French “R” when it ends a word.

Listen to the pronunciation of “RUA” meaning “street.”



RR – Double “R” has an “H” sound in Brazilian Portuguese.

CH – “CH” in Brazilian Portuguese is pronounced like an “sh” in English. For example, the “ch” in the word “gaúcho” is pronounced like an “SH.”

T – Certain letter “T’s” in Brazilian Portuguese are pronounced like a “CH” in English.

D – Certain “D’s” in Brazilian Portuguese are pronounced with a “DJ” sound as in the “J” in “jersey.”

S – a single s in the middle of a word is pronounced as if the “s” were in fact a “z.” So, “casa” is pronounced like “caza”

Ç= Pronounced like an “s”. For example, golaço

Words Ending in the Letter “L”: Words ending in the letter “L” are pronounced as if the L were a “u”. For example, ‘Brasil” (Brazil in Portuguese is spelled with the letter “S”) is pronounced as if it were “BraziU.” Note how the “s” in “Brasil”  is pronounced like a “z.” The word, “normal” is pronounced as if it were spelled “normAO” or “normAU.” This “ao” isn’t the “ão” discussed below. So Brasil is pronounced “Brah- ziu”

LH – “Lh” in Portuguese is similar to the “GLI” in Italian. Below is the link for “trabalho” which means work.



NH – “NH” in Brazilian Portuguese is the equivalent of “Ñ” in Spanish or “GN” in Italian. Below is the word amanhã which means tomorrow. Notice this word has “nh” and “ã”



à – the following vowels and diphthongs with what is called a tilde in Spanish can only be explain by listening to the letters pronounced. Note that the word “PAU” and “PÃO” have drastically different meanings.  Below is the pronunciation of the word maçã which means “apple” Notice that “ç” is pronounced like an “s”



ÃO – Requires audio to explain the pronunciation. Below is the link for “Pão” which means “bread.”



ÃE – Below is the link for the word “mãe” which means mother.



ÃES – Requires audio to explain the pronunciation. Below is the link for Mães which means “mothers”



ÕES – Requires audio to explain the pronunciation. Below is the link for “palavrões” which means cuss words or bad words.



E – Words that end in E in Brazilian Portuguese are pronounced as if the “e” were a double “e” in English. So it sounds like an “I” in Spanish or Italian.

M – Words that end in “M” in Brazilian Portuguese are pronounced as if the “M” were an “N”

O – Frequently Brazilians will pronounce words that end in “O” as if it were a “U.” So, “americano” will sound like “americanU”. This is not always done but you will hear it frequently.


Soccer (Futebol) Vocabulary:

(M) = masculine

(F) = Feminine

Futebol= soccer

CBF = Confederação Brasileira de Futebol

Seleção = The Brazilian national team

A Verde e Amarela/ O Verde e Amarelo = You’ll see this term in the masculine and feminine form depending on what it’s modifying. You could say “a camisa verde e amarela” or “o time verde e amarelo.” Either way, this means “The Green and Yellow.” This is a nickname for the Brazilian national team because the jersey is green and yellow like the Brazilian flag, which is green and yellow with a blue globe in the center showing the Southern constellations.

Futebol arte – This is the real term for beautiful, attacking soccer. “Joga bonito” is a sentence. “Jogo” with an “O” means game or “I play, I am playing, I do play, etc.” “Bonito” is technically an adjective in its masculine form as opposed to an adverb. So, JOGA  with an “A” does not mean “game.” JOGO with an “O” means game.

Jogo bonito = futebol arte. Unlike the Nike commercials which said “Joga bonito” with an “A” on “jogo,” the real term other than futebol arte for attractive attacking soccer is “JOGO BONITO” and NOT “JOGA BONITO.”

Futebol de salão/futsal = Futsal. This is indoor soccer played with a specific ball, and it is an official FIFA sport with its own rules, tournaments, and teams. Many of the Brazilian greats started by playing futebol de salão. Such players include, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Robinho. Falcão is the best futsal player in the world, and he is also considered the best ever.


Jogo = game. Jogo is also the first persons singular of “jogar” meaning “to play.” NOTE: “Jogar” also means “throw.”

Jogão = a big or important game. You might also hear “jogaço,” although this isn’t technically a grammatically correct word.

Jogar futebol = to play soccer

Jogar bola = to play soccer (Literally, “to play ball”). This expression implies soccer as opposed to basketball or other sports.

Pelada = pick up soccer game. Literally, the word, “pelada” means nude or naked; this is the feminine form of the adjective. “Pelado” is the masculine form of the word nude or naked.

Campo = field

= foot

Pés = feet

Mão = hand

Mãos = hands

Perna = leg

Pernas = legs

Coxa = thigh

Coxas = thighs

Canela = shin

Canelas = shins

Caneleiras = shin guards

Tornozelo = ankle

Tornozelos = ankles

Joelho = knee

Joelhos = knees

Peito = chest

Cabeça = head

Frente = forehead

Braço = arm

Rosto / Cara = face

Cara = dude, guy. Literally, “cara” means face. “Rosto” is more common

Devagar = slowly / slow

Rápido = fast

Chutões = long balls

Craque = a really good soccer player, a baller, a “crack”

Um cai-cai = a diver, a flopper, someone who fakes injuries, etc. The is the same as a “clavadista” in Spanish.

Chuteiras (plural) = soccer shoes (with cleats)

Tênis de futsal = futsal shoes / indoor soccer shoes

Bora = Let’s go. Come on. Bora comes from Vamos embora which literally means “Let’s leave” or “We’re leaving.” Bora is short for embora, and Brazilians say or yell “bora” to say “come on” or “let’s go”

Gol = goal

Fazer um gol / marcar um gol = to score a goal. Fazer is the infinitive form of “to do or to make.” Fazer can be translated as other things in Portuguese depending on context

Golaço = golazo

Golear = to score a lot of goals on an opposing team. This verb also exist in Spanish.

Goleada = Beating an opposing team by a bunch of goals. Scoring a ton of goals on an opposing team. 3-0, 4-0, etc

Porrada = Porrada is a really bad physical beating of any kind. Porrada means “a beat down” or “severe beating.” Porrada is technically a physical beating, but it also means to beat a team really badly. A “goleada” is a “porrada,” but a “porrada” is not necessarily a “goleada.” One could say that a 5-0 loss for example was a goleada and a porrada. NOTE: PORRA is a cuss word in Portuguese and also a medical term. If you want to know what it means, you will be able to find it. I cannot write it here.

Tiro  (pronounced Cheer-Oo/u) = shot (Not used as often as CHUTE)

Rede = net

balançar a rede = to score. Literally, “to shake / swing the net.” 

Pegar de primeira = to hit first time

Chutar de fora da área = to shoot from outside the box

Passar a bola = to pass the ball

Passe = pass

Cavadinha = chip

Correr – to run  (Remember this is pronounced “coh-hair” with the last r being a French “r”)

Perder – to lose

Vencer – to win

Errar = to miss

cartão amarelo = yellow card

cartão vermelho = red card

Travessão  = cross bar

Trave = upright, vertical post

Cabeçada = header

Derrubar = to knock down, take down, push over, topple, etc

Atropelar = to run over

Marcar = to mark, guard


The next four terms are interrelated and trace their origins to capoeira and/or street life:

Malícia = guile, killer instinct.

“The malícia which the capoeirista refers to is an indispensable trait of the game of capoeira. In capoeira, malícia means a mixture of shrewdness, street-smarts, and wariness. It should not be confused with the English word “malice”…The player who is malicioso is able to dodge under an opponent’s kick and prepare for a counterattack or a takedown before the assailant finishes what he started.”  (Capoeira, Nestor. The Little Capoeira Book. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books. 1995. Page 33.)

Malandro = thug, bad ass

Malandragem = street smarts, cunning

Ginga = swagger, swing


Categoria = class, quality, skill


Bater a lateral / Cobrar a lateral = throw in

De primeira = first time kick, strike, hit, shot, etc. Kicked without controlling the ball with an initial first touch.

Bater pro gol = kick, strike, shoot, hit towards goal

Destaque = highlight

Destaques = highlights

Lance = highlight

Lances = highlights


Pau = post. This word literally means stick, post, etc. “Pau” is not to be confused with “PÃO,” which means bread.  NOTE: THIS WORD, “PAU,”  IS ALSO SLANG FOR THE MALE SEXUAL ORGAN IN PORTUGUESE

Primeiro pau = near post

Segundo pau = far post

Área = penalty box

Pequena área = six yard box or goalie box

Juiz (árbitro) = referee. Brazilians call the ref “juiz” which means judge. If you look up the official FIFA rules in Portuguese, the rulebook will used the word árbitro which is the same word used in Spanish for referee.  Juiz is the word used by Brazilian for referee. If anyone interested in Portuguese watches highlights in Brazilian Portuguese you’ll hear the words in this list and how they are pronounced. The most famous soccer commentator in Brazil is Galvão Bueno.

Tempo normal = regular time

Prorrogação = extra time

Intervalo / meio-tempo = half time

Gandula = ball boy

Pontapé inicial = kick off

Uma cobrança de escanteio = corner kick

tiro de meta – goal kick

Uma cobrança de falta / tiro livre = free kick

Pênalti = penalty kick (PK)

Linha lateral = side line

Linha de meta = goal line or end line

Bola parada = dead ball ; set piece

Jogada ensaiada = rehearsed set piece play

Entrada = tackle

Pontapé = kick hard

Cama de gato – This is when a player under cuts a player in the air by bending at the waist and making his or her back flat like a table.  This is obviously a foul.

de três dedos – outside of the foot

Trivela = outside of the foot kick

Chute = shot / kick

Folha seca = a shot that rises and then quickly drops or dips.




Goleiro= goalkeeper

Defensor= defender

Zagueiro= center back or central defender (Lúcio, Thiago Silva, Dedé, Juan, Alex, etc)

Lateral (plural: laterais) = outside back (Maicon, Daniel Alves, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, etc)

Lateral-direito = right back

Lateral-esquerdo = left back

Meia = midfielder (this word literally means middle. Meia is the feminine form which is used for midfielder; meio-tempo is halftime for instance). NOTE: MEIAS also means “socks”

**Meia (AGAIN) = “meia” is really more of an attacking midfielder than a “volante” which is listed below. Meia means midfielder in general but it implies an attacking midfielder. You will see “meia” written or said for attacking midfielders and volante for holding or defensive midfielders.

Volante = holding or defensive midfielder that plays in front of the defenders and links the defense with the meias (midfielders). Literally, volante is a steering wheel.

Meia-atacante = attacking midfielder

Meia-armador = central attacking midfielder such as Zidane, Ronaldinho, Diego Ribas da Cunha, Kaká, Clarence Seedorf, etc.

Camisa dez = the number 10 jersey. For Brazil, this the central attacking midfielder that is the primary playmaker. Pelé wore number 10 even through he was not really a traditional number 10. In addition to Pelé Zico, Raí, Ronaldinho, Kaká, and many other greats wore the number 10 jersey. Ganso frequently wears 10 now for the Seleção unless Ronaldinho is playing. Kaká was never really a true number 10 because Kaká’s game is more based on attacking defenders at pace as opposed to being the primary playmaker or setting up  a lot of goals. That being said, Kaká is a fantastic passer. Diego Ribas da Cunha or simply Diego wears number 10 for Brazil some when Ronaldinho, Kaká, and Ganso aren’t playing.

Atacante = forward

Ponta-de-lança = lone striker (Portugal). This term is used in Portugal.

Centroavante = center forward

Artilheiro = Top goal scorer




Embaixadinha = juggling.

Pontinho = juggling (This word is used in Salvador and Bahia state)

Dribles = dribbling tricks

Bicicleta = bicycle kick. NOTE: In Spanish, “bicicleta” is a stepover and “la chilena” is a bicycle kick

Letra = rabona

Corta luz = dummy run ; dummy

Paradinha = stutter step penalty kick. Parada is a noun meaning “stop” and “-inha” is a diminutive suffix. So, this means “little stop” or “sort of stop,” etc.

Caneta = nutmeg  (Dar uma caneta)

Pedalada = stepover

Cobertura = this is when a player chips the goalkeeper. Cobertura is a covering or an awning or cover, etc. Below is a video of Ronaldo doing a cutback and then scoring a famous left footed cobertura goal against Santos from the 2009 Paulistão. In the video, you’ll here the announcer say, “cobertura.”


Elástico = This is the so-called flip-flap in English. I could never bring myself to say flip-flap as it’s such a lame term. Elástico is literally a rubber band in Portuguese. The trick gets this name because the ball is hit with the outside of the foot to the side of the defender and then immediately hit with the inside of the foot back to the inside of the defender giving the impression that the ball is attached to the player’s foot with a rubber band and snapping outside and in quickly. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho did this trick frequently. Ronaldinho still does it. Neymar does it as well. If you search online for elástico and Ronaldo or Ronaldinho you will see it in action.

Lambreta = rainbow

Chapéu/Lençol = trick where you pop the ball right over the defenders head and collect the ball again after the player has popped it over the player’s head. Chapéu is a cap. The word comes from the French word “chapeau.” This trick is giving the defender a “hat” or “cap” with the ball. The “boné” is Portuguese is a baseball cap or hat. In the description of this video, Diego Carvalho explains that he wrote “sombrero” so English speaking soccer fans would recognize the trick from hearing it’s Spanish name, sombrero. He goes on to explain that it’s called a chapéu in Brazil. Lençol is literally a sheet as in a bed sheet.

Gol olímpico = a goal straight off a corner kick where the player taking the corner kick kicks the ball straight into the goal without the ball being touched or headed by one of his teammates. Ronaldinho is famous for these.

Drible da vaca / meia-lua = this is the trick where the player kicks the ball past the defender on one side of the defender’s body and runs around the defender around the opposite side of his body from where the the ball was kicked and recollects the ball downfield. Literally this means “Cow’s dribble” or “half moon”

Gol de Peixinho = this is a goal where the player dives and slides on his or her stomach to head a ball into the goal instead of just kicking in an easy tap in. Peixinho means fishy or little fish so the name gets its origin from the appearance of sliding on the grass like a fish swimming. This is truly a hilarious and insulting way to score on someone.




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