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The “Foot” in Brazilian Portuguese Expression

Updated: May 8

In Portuguese there are several expressions with that part of the body that connects us to the earth: the foot, in portuguese “pé”. Pé d’água, pé quente, pé de guerra, pé de fruta, pé de igualdade, pé atrás, andar a pé, meter o pé and so on... The expressions are diverse and many of them are not related with the foot acttualy. I separated some of them here for you.

Let's start with a pé de árvore (tree feet). In this case  is used to refer to a plant or fruit tree, and in general it comes followed by the fruit. For example: “O pé de manga é muito grande, mas o pé de tomate é pequeno.” And what is the origin of this expression? We do not know! Could we associate the shape of the foot with the vertical shape of the plant or tree? Yes, but it would be more appropriate to call the tree a mango leg (perna de manga). But I think whoever invented the expression liked feet more than legs. Who knows?

There are those that use the foot in the literal sense, for example andar a pé which means walking as opposed to transporting yourself with vehicles such as a car or boat: “Ela vai à praia a pé”. And meter o pé means leaving, getting out: “Está tarde, preciso ir, vou meter o pé”. One of the meanings of the verb meter in portuguese is to put, to put on, to place. So when you leave a place, you put your foot on the ground to walk, then putting your foot on the ground is the same meter o pé.

Two other expressions that refer to the position of the feet are estar em pé de igualdade and estar com o pé atrás. The first means you are on the same level of competition. They are foot to foot, or in other words, the runners are in the same position to start a race, for example: “Os dois atletas são fortes, eles estão em pé de igualdade”. And estar com o pé atras is when you are suspecting something in a situation. In this case, it is possible to visualize the image of someone who, out of fear, stops facing what is in front of them, takes a step back: “Ele está com o pé atrás em relação aos amigos do trabalho”. In other words, he suspects his friend.

There are those expressions associated with the climate such as pé d’água, which means very a storm. “Ontem caiu um pé d’água, mas hoje já está fazendo sol de novo”.  There is the pé quente (hot feet) which is when someone is lucky: “Ele traz sorte para o vendedor, toda vez que ele entra na loja, logo depois muitos clientes entram também, ele é pé quente”.

 There is also the pé de guerra (feet war), which is the situation when two people fight a lot: “Eles são um casal estranho, vivem em pé de guerra, mas não se separam”.

And for last I left the one I like most, which is meter o pé na jaca. Jaca is a big fruit. And this expression means going beyond the limits. It can be used in many contexts. In general it is used in the context of parties where a person drinks a lot and goes overboard: “Ontem, na festa o chefe meteu o pé na jaca, bebeu muito, dançou muito e até subiu na mesa, foi divertido!”.

So now you know some of the expressions with foot in Portuguese. Just be careful, não meta o pé na jaca (do not to put your foot in) starting using the expression indiscriminately. The advice I give is to first observe the contexts in which they are used and then start practicing. Now eu vou meter o pé  becouse it's time to go!

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