Profanity in the Portuguese language – words and phrases considered vulgar, blasphemous, inflammatory or offensive – can be divided into several categories. Many are used as insults, and all express the utterer's annoyance. Considerable differences are found among varieties of Portuguese, such as those in Portugal and in Brazil.
The most common words of Portuguese profanity, the ones universally used in the different dialects and variants of Portuguese, originated from Latin radicals, as well from other Indo-European sources and are usually cognate with peninsular Spanish profanity. There are also Portuguese curse words that originated from South American Amerindian or West and Central African languages; these are found in other Portuguese speaking countries than Portugal, like Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola or Mozambique even though some of these non-Indo-European-originated ones made it to enter the peninsular Portuguese.
In the case of Brazil, several neologistic curse words[which?] were borrowed not only from Amerindian or African languages but also from Italian, German or French, due to the Italian and Central-European immigration to Brazil in the late 19th century and due to the fact French used to be a lingua franca for intellectual Brazilians and Brazilian international diplomacy in the past. While the Spanish language abounds in blasphemous interjections, Portuguese lacks in this regard.
Portuguese profanity, just like in any other Western language, is much marked by its sexist character. Words that refer to male homosexuality and female sexuality in general, and even the ones referred to the female genitalia, are the ones mostly adopted as inflammatory words while the ones that refer to heterosexual male sexuality are used as positive adjectivations. Scatological terms are used either with negative and positive meaning, depending on the context in which they are used.
Profanities in Portuguese are referred as profanidades, impropérios, baixo calão, obscenidades, vulgaridades. Palavrão means literally big word which can be translated in bad or ugly word, and dizer/falar palavrões (to say/ to talk) is to use obscene language. Praguejar (Portugal) and Xingar (Brazil) is to swear, to curse.
- Margit Raders, Julia Sevilla (eds.) (1993) III Encuentros Complutenses en Torno a la Traducción: 2 - 6 de Abril de 1990 p.36