Portuguese expressions originated in architecture

Portuguese expressions originated in architecture

Expressions in Portuguese coming from architecture

Hello and welcome to our Portuguese Basic Tips 77 (in English) about Portuguese expressions originated in architecture

On today’s podcast we are going to speak about Portuguese expressions originated in architecture.

When the subject is learning a language, there are expressions that are widely spoken and even those who were born in the country don’t know exactly where they come from.

That’s the case of today’s episode. We’ll talk about well-known expressions, but we’ll find out the origin of each one them. Will you come on this trip with me? So let’s get started!

Click on the link and visit our previous episode, called Expressions related to death in Portuguese

Sem eira nem beira

Well, when we say that someone is “sem eira nem beira”, we mean he or she is lost in the world, he is stunned.

For instance:

  • Aquele rapaz está sem eira nem beira, desde que a esposa o deixou. (That boy has been stunned since his wife left him)

What people don’t know is the origin of this expression: “eira” is the ground, the place where grains were threshed. On the other hand, “beira” is the same as beirada, the edges of the “eira”. So if you don’t have “eira” and you don’t have “beira”, you have nothing! You’re “lost in the world”.

As Dylan says: when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.


You may have already paid attention to the roofs of old buildings. So you’ve seen that many of them have tiles (in Portuguese we call it “telhas”) in a peculiar shape, they are oval, or rounded.

The history tells us that those “telhas” were produced by slaves on their thighs. Because of this, the tiles didn’t have a right pattern to be followed. Their shapes and sizes were different from each other.  That is, the roofs were poorly made and there were constantly leaks in the houses.

So, when you hear someone saying  “feito nas coxas”, know that he or she is saying that “something was badly done”.

  • Esse conserto foi feito nas coxas / This repair was not well made

Pé direito

In Brazil, you’ll often hear the expression “hoje ele acordou com o pé direito”, literally meaning “today he woke up on the right foot”.  Some people, like me, may think that the expression would come from some kind of superstition: the person always gets out of bed stepping first with the right foot. That’s not correct!

In Brazil’s colonial period, engineers and architects used wooden stakes to support the structures of buildings.

Remember: in Portuguese, instead of saying “orange tree” we say “pé de laranja”. I mean, instead of saying “árvore de laranja”, we say “pé de laranja”.  The wooden stake, in Portuguese, simply became “pé”, instead of  “estaca de madeira”. So the engineers used to say “put the wooden stake correctly” or “coloque o pé direito”.

Nowadays we use the expression with other meanings:

  • Hoje eu acordei com o pé direito / Today I’m happy.
  • Vamos começar com o pé direito dessa vez/ We are going to start doing well this time

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Click on the link to see more Portuguese expressions from architecture

That’s enough for today.

I hope you like it.

Marcos Sales

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