Carioca slang – 1957

Going through an October 1957 edition of Careta, I found an article on the following slang of the era (some of which I’ve added photos to).


  • Coca-cola (cheap collective taxis)
  • Fominhas (mini buses)
  • Caraduras (cheap trolleys)
  • Taiobas (trolleys with different fares)
  • Calhambeque (old car)
  • Rabo de Peixe (Cadillac)
  • Tintureiro (police wagon for the imprisoned)
  • Rabeção (hearse)
  • Mãe carinhosa (ambulance)
  • Vaca leiteira (milk truck)
  • Andorinha (moving truck)
  • Filhos de Maria (blue & white buses)
  • Camões (an allusion to the Portuguese poet who was blind in one eye)


  • Gostosões (modern and smooth)

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  • Sinfonia inacabado (‘without a head’)


  • Papa-filas

15 - Papa-filas Grassi


  • Bola de Noiva (Edifício Mayapan on Av. Almirante Barroso, 91)


  • Balança mas não cai ( apartment complex on Av. Presidente Vargas, 2007)


  • Tem Nêgo Bêbo Aí (Edifício Marquês de Herval on Av. Rio Branco, 185)


  • Gaiola de Ouro (Câmara Municipal at Praça Floriano)


  • Marmiteiro (laborer)
  • Maria Condelária (government official)
  • Barnabé (humble servant)
  • Parasita (retired but still able to work)
  • Tubarão (successful business man)
  • Bôas Vidas (city councilor)
  • Pais da Pátria (members of parliament)
  • Chefão / Manda-Chuva (President)
  • Gafanhotas (military)
  • Panela de Pressão (night guard)
  • Cardial (special police)
  • Meganha (military police)
  • Cosme e Damião (MPs in pairs)
  • Olheiro (car attendent)
  • Papa-defunto (funeral agent)


  • Getulinho (‘tostão’)
  • Filipeta / Japonesa (1 cruzeiro)
  • Cachorro (5 cruzeiros, according to bet-takers)
  • Coelho (10 cruzeiros, for bet-takers)
  • Perú (20 cruzeiros…)
  • Galo (50 cruzeiros…)
  • Vaca (100 cruzeiros…)
  • Abobrinas (modern bills worth 1,000 cruzeiros)


  • Poeira (cheap movie)
  • Mata-ratos (cigarette)
  • Pasquim (newspaper w/o asking price)
  • Buxo (ugly woman)
  • Panamás (big scandals)
  • Mamata (easy job)
  • Pistolão (the ease of getting a Mamata)

Careta Oct 1957 Careta Oct 1957 p2


Comic Confusion – 1924

It’s been a long time since I posted any old cartoons or comics and this is mainly due to the fact that most just don’t translate, that is, from antiquated humor to today’s kind. In other words, they just aren’t funny. Some, however, have a little potential, like the ones below (from the Rio-focused magazine Careta), even if understanding them requires a little digging.

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Her – You’re so embarrassed, why?
Him – Because I just saw a book on the bookshelf in your room.
Her – Ah! La Garçonne? My goodness! Do you want me to lend it to you?

Don’t understand? Wikipedia to the rescue!

La Garçonne is a French novel by Victor Margueritte first published in 1922. It deals with the life of a young woman who, upon learning that her fiancé is cheating on her, decides to live life freely and on her own terms. Amongst other things, this included having multiple sexual partners. Although the theme is not particularly shocking in the present day, at the time it was considered quite scandalous; it even caused the author to lose his Legion of Honour.

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Back in the day it was “Your love and a squalid house”. Today it’s “Your love, a bungalow, an automobile and 500 bucks in the bank!…”

My trusty friend Aulete explains the outdated term choupana as a squalid house (aka casebre or cabana). Furthermore, the word’s root is choupo, a type of tree, thus choupana denotes a house made of wood. With it, we also learn of the interesting term choça, which is another way to say choupana.

Predictions – Rio in 100 years

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 5.50.46 PM“In the year two-thousand. — Prophetic photograph of what Rio will be like at its 5th centennial”


The text images that follow, from the May 20th (1900) edition of Revista da Semana, go on to describe how Rio will be 100 years from then but, being that it’s antiquated Portuguese, I preferred to just post the text as is. What I will also leave you with are some choice excerpts. I’ll put a X next to the incorrect predictions, (a √ next to the correct ones,) and nothing if I don’t know how to answer. 

Χ – Rio’s avenues will be way better than the Champs-Élysées in Paris (not quite)
Χ – Rua do Ouvidor will be nothing but a memory (still there, luckily)
Χ – Rio will have 1.5 million residents (currently 6.5 million)
Χ – Women won’t say ugly things like “vi elle”, “qui home”, “me deixe”, “tá bom”
Χ – Botafogo, with its lovely bay, will attract tourists from the world over (it fell short)
Χ – By 1940, yellow fever will be gone (…nope)
– Morally, Brazilians will have the same defects, vices and passions as in 1900
Χ – In commerce and industry, there’ll be big thieves who cheat the public
– In the press, there’ll be illiterate writers and journalists for sale
– The city still won’t have money to pay its employees
Χ – The only ugly thing left in the city will be the Mangue canal (still there)

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Getting a kick out of Carnival


“To rodar a baiana (to spin the Bahian woman) is Brazilian slang attributed to the Northeast. It means to “go bananas”, “to lose control” or “to make a scene” (similar to the phrase “fazer barraco”).

When someone threatens someone else with the phrase “pare com isso ou eu vou rodar a baiana” (stop that or I’m going to rodar a baiana), a smart person would stop right then and there – or, at least, be careful, otherwise the threat could become a public scandal.

Differently than it may seem, this expression isn’t related to Bahia, but rather to Rio de Janeiro. That’s because, at the start of the 20th century, the region was the stage of famous Carnival parades, where baianas were the main attraction.

In the midst of these blocos, some guys would pinch the girls, and to stop this from happening, some capoeira players would dress up like baianas, and at the first sign of disrespect, they’d use their capoeira moves. The people that watched the parades didn’t catch on at all: they only saw the baiana rodar.” – Source (PT)