Jeitinho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʒejˈtʃĩɲu], "knack") is finding a way to accomplish something by circumventing rules or social conventions. It is a typically Brazilian method of social navigation where an individual can use emotional resources (appeal to emotion), blackmail, family ties, promises, rewards or money to obtain favors or to get an advantage. It is a similar concept to viveza criolla in Argentina and Uruguay, and malicia indigena in Colombia.
The word "jeitinho" comes from the expression dar um jeito, literally "find a way." It implies the use of resources at hand, as well as personal connections, and creativity. Como é que ele conseguiu os bilhetes? How did he manage to get those tickets? Ele deu um jeito or in english "He found a way"
One way to understand jeitinho is as a recurso de esperteza, which means a resource used by espertos — savvy, cunning, or sly individuals who use common sense and prior knowledge, as well as naturally gifted intelligence in their thought processes. It implies that a person is "street-smart", but not necessarily "book-smart."
The Brazilian scholar and historian Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda connects the concept of jeitinho to Brazil's mixed heritage and Iberian ancestry in his book "Roots of Brazil" (Raízes do Brasil). In this work, jeitinho is tied to the idea that a typical Brazilian is a friendly, cordial man, prone to making initial decisions based on his emotions instead of his reason, and that this feature can found everywhere in the country, from the highest offices of government to the most common situations of everyday life. Jeitinho is also observed in Rio de Janeiro's carnival industry by the scholar Roberto DaMatta in his book "Carnavais, Malandros e Heróis" (Carnival, Rogues and Heroes. Notre Dame Press). Da Matta sees jeitinho in the creative culture of carnival.
Similarity to other terms
The terms "malandro" and "malandragem", which can be roughly translated as "rogue" and "roguishness", are very similar to the "jeitinho", but these terms imply a greater degree of unethical and law-breaking behavior than the term jeitinho.