Have you ever wondered how many words  and phrases in the English language do we have as of the moment? According to Oxford Dictionary, there are 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 are obsolete words. Some of the words or phrases in the English language are actually borrowed from other languages such as French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

English words that originated from other languages are called “loanwords”. It is called “loan” because it is technically borrowed,  not stolen.

Now, let us focus to one of these languages, the Portuguese.

Portuguese has been a great player in our linguistics that we are not aware of. We are using many words or phrases in English that are Portuguese in origin.

It is surprising, right?

So, we need to increase our learning now. Let’s have a look at these 20 words and phrases in the English language that are of Portuguese roots.


An amah is a household help.  Amah is from the word ama which means a nurse, a housemaid, a woman employed to look after children.


We should know how to properly pronounce the word ainhum because it is a little bit tricky even for native English speakers.

Ainhum is a tropical disease of an unknown cause. Ainhum is developed through the increasing fibrous formation which results to amputation, especially of the small toes. It is based from Yoruba eyun  which means ‘saw’, a disease that involves amputation.


Are you familiar with auto- da-fe or its pronunciation? Listen as to how we should pronounce this strange word.

An auto-da-fé or auto-de-fé came from auto da fé, which means “an act of faith”. It is the ritual of public judgment with the most extreme punishment imposed on those convicted. The execution is through burning.

Bossa nova

We have different genres of music; RnBs, country, pop, rock, and EDMs. Hence, to a more alternative genre, we might know the word bossa nova.

Bossa nova is a genre of Brazilian music. It has a mixture of jazz and samba.  Bossa nova literally means “new trend” or “new wave”.


phrases in Eglish- Portuguese Origin- Breeze
Feel the breeze that touches your skin.

If we are from the urban cities, we crave for that soothing sway of breeze that caresses our body. Nevertheless, we are also not aware that breeze is a loanword.  Breeze’s origin is from the Portuguese word briza.

Briza means northeastern wind. Breeze is a wind from 6 to 50 kilometers per hour also referred as a light gentle wind.


The only difference of the English term buffalo from its Portuguese origin is the spelling, “bufalo”.  Both, the original and the derivatives, mean the same thing, the bison-like animal.

A buffalo is a large bison form that has a large muscular hump, heavy forequarter, and has a pair of short horns.


The capoeira dance talks about dance and its movements. Let us listen to the pronunciation of capoeira.

Capoeira is a beautiful Brazilian dance that incorporates martial arts movements such as kicks and chops in the dance routine.


A cashew nut is a delicious type of roasted nut that has a curved shape. It is  from the cashew tree or also called as “caju”. Here is a small glitch – a cashew is not truly a nut; it is a seed. For culinary purposes, cashew is considered as a nut.


Whenever we hear the word fetish, it makes us giddy.  This feeling is natural because by origin, it was originally from the word feitiço which means “charm”, “sorcery”, or “spell”.

Fetish means an object of fantasy  needed for sexual gratification.


The absence of indigo will make the rainbow incomplete.

Indigo is a purplish- blue color that is almost similar to violet.   Endego, by its very nature, is a dye obtained from the indigo plant, wood, or similar kind.


In Portuguese, jaggery is xagara or jagara. It is a brown sugar that is unrefined and made from a palm sap.


phrases in the English
Launch your boat into the sea.

The word launch was from the word lancha that translates to “a boat”. We use launch as a verb to show the act of releasing, catapulting, or sending off (a self-propelled object).


Do you like the taste of marmalade?

Marmalade is a sweetened jelly which the rind of fruits and the pieces of fruits are suspended.

Marmalade got its name from marmelada. Marmelada is a quince paste or a conserve of quince .


Everybody adored french fries and potato chips. But,  do you ever wonder where the word potato come from?

The word potato is from batata. Potato is an edible starchy tuber.


The beginning of the word savvy is saber denoting “to know”. Savvy means something or someone is showing sharp perception, smartness, and understanding to some things that are practical.


phrases in the English
Tank is tanque in Portuguese.

The word tank is a closed container for gases or liquids. Also, tank could mean any military armored vehicle.  Tanque has the same meaning with the English tank, a closed container.


A Brazilian writer, Robert Southey, used zombie in one of his novels. It was the moment “zombie” came to life.

A zombie is a fictional character that has a supernatural power that held to have died, yet able to reanimate a corpse.

 If you really want to learn and widen your knowledge about the different words and phrases in English language; you will love this article.

Here in mainenglish.com, we are willing to take your learning to a more engaging and more fun experience.

We want you to learn more words or phrases in the English language in no time. Therefore, we will be constantly updating our blog.

You might be interested to read this blog about “Common Words and Phrases in the English Language from A-Z”