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Portuguese Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind

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Music is a universal language. If it appeals to one person, it may appeal to others as well and lead to communication. Well, poetry isn’t that far off from music! And what is poetry but words that contain music within themselves to produce a more potent feeling? 

Good poetry casts a net of fascination over those people who devote their time to understanding its meaning and the sounds it contains. In this vein, Portuguese quotes are similar to poetry. From expressing an individual verve to passing down popular knowledge, these artful words can serve as a gateway to communication and mutual understanding.

What’s more, studying quotes in Portuguese can be useful to you as a language learner! Doing so will allow you to learn rich expressions that you can start using today to sound more like a native speaker. In addition, these quotes can lend you insight into the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries, which will be a valuable asset for effective communication.

In this article, you’ll learn several quotes in Portuguese that touch on a variety of topics, from success to human relations. To ensure you walk away with a comprehensive view of how to use different sayings in a variety of contexts, we’ve included both native Portuguese quotes and quotes from other languages that have been translated into Portuguese. 

Feel free to compare versions and practice your skills!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Language Learning
  2. Quotes About Success
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Time
  5. Quotes About Human Relations
  6. Quotes About Life
  7. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Language Learning 

Let’s begin our list with some inspirational quotes in Portuguese that are sure to motivate you in your language studies.


#1 Os limites da minha linguagem são os limites do meu mundo.

Literal translation: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

Our first quote is from Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). It’s not a Portuguese saying, but it’s one of the best motivational quotes we could think of to begin this list on the right foot.

It’s invigorating to understand that the boundaries of one’s world are nothing more than the thoughts they can put into words. This means that the more languages you learn and the more experiences you exchange, the more opportunities you have to expand the boundaries of your world.

#2 Um passo à frente e você não está mais no mesmo lugar.

Literal translation: “A step forward and you’re not in the same place anymore.”

This phrase was coined by late Brazilian composer Chico Science (1966 – 1997), and it’s part of the tune Passeio no Mundo Livre. In this context, roaming is a symbol of freedom and the song’s carefree persona.

Additionally, a step forward could symbolize transformation. To take a step and go ahead holds the promise of certain change—and, sure, it applies to learning new languages. Every step forward, however small it may be, results in a noticeable difference in the level of knowledge one possesses. To some degree, someone who learns something new is always a different person than they were before.

2. Quotes About Success

Quotes about success abound on the internet, and for good reasons. The following trio of success quotes in Portuguese will hopefully bring you some practical knowledge for your life, as well as insight into the Portuguese language. 


#3 Quem não arrisca não petisca.

Literal translation: “Those who don’t take a risk don’t have a snack.”

This popular Brazilian Portuguese quote describes the dynamics of success in a nutshell: You have to put something at stake to make progress.

The proverbial snack is as tasty as the potential sacrifices one has to make to obtain it. The saying applies to  both financial contexts and other situations in life, from flirting to business and everything in-between.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the world has many more cases of failure than of success. Among these failures, there’s always someone who thinks he’s the only one that lost, but should’ve won. So, this phrase can also be used as an excuse by someone who lost something important in a bet of some kind.

Two Fishermen Casting Their Nets

“If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

#4 Caiu na rede, é peixe.

Literal translation: “If it fell into the net, it’s fish.”

This old Brazilian saying contains an interesting piece of wisdom, and we consider it one of the most inspirational quotes in Portuguese on our list. The quote means that results, even though they might be small, can be considered a catch.

Oftentimes, success is only a matter of perspective. Sometimes we have a “squid” or a “big fish” in our “nets” but don’t have eyes for it, always looking for a bigger catch that may never come—and for what? It’s like Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Also, gathering many little fish is more interesting in the long run than waiting for one big one. From a complementary point of view, this saying can be interpreted as: “Something is better than nothing.” You can also use this quote to refer to someone who never refuses a deal or a date.

#5 Há males que vêm para o bem.

Literal translation: “Some bad things come for good.”

This traditional Brazilian saying argues that some adversities should be taken lightly.

Fate (or karma, if you believe in it) and the passing of time can extract advantages from difficult situations.

3. Quotes About Love

Our list of the best Portuguese quotes wouldn’t be complete without some words on love and romance. Here are a couple of romantic quotes in Brazilian Portuguese we think you’ll enjoy.


#6 A melhor definição de amor não vale um beijo de moça namorada.

Literal translation: “The best definition of love isn’t worth a kiss of the valentine lady.”

This line is from Brazilian writer Machado de Assis (1839-1908), author of some of the most notable national novels. His works account for some of the most famous Portuguese quotes in Brazil, such as this one.

This quote comes from a tale by Assis called O Espelho (“The Mirror”), from the book Papeis Avulsos (“Random Papers”). In the original context, it’s a mere metaphor for the importance of a thorough exposition of facts, for the comprehension of the main character’s metaphysical theory (according to which, each individual has two souls, one that’s projected outwards and another that’s projected inwards).

The story was published in 1882 and really isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a sample of some of Assis’s more mature writing traits: dynamic storytelling, philosophical inventions applied to trivial situations, and social criticism injected with remarkable flair.

That said, love is not the main topic of the story. But it doesn’t matter: the “empirical love” sentence is one of the finest love quotes in Brazilian Portuguese.

A Picture of a Man

Loverboy Machado de Assis in a meditative pose

#7 Obrigado por ser sempre o meu arco-íris depois da tempestade.

Literal translation: “Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.”

This anonymous saying depicts the fact that hard times may come and go, but one’s better half is always a bright and colorful symbol of peace and serenity.

4. Quotes About Time

Time is a very rare commodity nowadays. We tend to run out of it very easily and look for activities with instant results. Portuguese and Brazilian wisdom concerning this matter indicates that this may not be the best way to go about spending our time. Here are a couple of meaningful quotes in Portuguese on the concept of time.

#8 Devagar se vai ao longe.

Literal translation: “To go slowly gets you yonder.”

This is an old Brazilian saying that’s featured in Joge Ben Jor’s song Bicho do Mato.

The message here is simple: take your time. If you keep calm and just do what you have to do, you can achieve your goals.

Also, this quote expresses the importance of being resilient. Being persistent concerning ideals will lead somewhere, eventually.

#9 A tradição é que faz a Humanidade.

Literal translation: “Tradition makes Humanity.”

This is a quote by Portuguese writer and diplomat Eça de Queirós (1845-1900), author of many important novels—some say that his Os Maias (“The Maias”) is among the greatest Portuguese novels ever.

This Portuguese quote about time was originally written in Queirós’ newspaper O Distrito de Évora (“The District of Evora”). It was part of a larger reflection piece on the importance of growing old and of elderly people as a reference for society.

The sentence makes it clear that the formation and practice of habits makes us what we are. Things in life don’t happen by chance, but bloom from “seeds” we plant. Tradition is understood here as habits that we cultivate in order to achieve some criteria for preserving what we understand as “human.”

A Monument

Eça de Queirós embodies the virtues of tradition: he became a monument in France!

5. Quotes About Human Relations

As they say, no man is an island. Here are some quotes in Portuguese about friendship, family, and other human relations to get you thinking about your own relationships!


#10 Suporta-se com paciência a cólica dos outros.

Literal translation: “One endures patiently the others’ colic.”

This is another one from Brazilian writer Machado de Assis. The sentence is part of the novel Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas (“Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas”), published in 1891.

This is considered Assis’ magnum opus and was revered by American literary critic Susan Sontag as an undercover gem of universal literature. The narrative consists of the biographical ramblings of Brás Cubas, a bored elite man without a significant legacy.

This quote is one of five other lines Cubas composed in times of boredom. While three of the sentences are just silly, this one is an interestingly selfish take on human feeling: only our own pain feels legitimate.

#11 Águas passadas não movem moinhos.

Literal translation: “Past waters don’t move mills.”

This is a popular saying in Portuguese and Brazilian cultures, nearly equivalent to the English expression, “It’s all water under the bridge.”

#12 Cada macaco no seu galho.

Literal translation: “Each monkey on its branch.”

This is an old Brazilian saying that gives name to a samba by late composer Riachão (1921-2020). The message is loud and clear: take care of your own business.

It can be applied to business situations or in other relationships, such as one’s friendship or love life.

6. Quotes About Life

For lack of a better way to group these Portuguese quotes, “life” is the most suitable label for them. The diversity of situations and imagery they represent make these Portuguese quotes about life a kaleidoscopic depiction of this phenomenon. 

Some of them sound grim while others are more lighthearted. 

#13 Cão que ladra não morde.

Literal translation: “A dog that barks doesn’t bite.”

Appearances can deceive, and we often perceive dangers as being worse than they really are. This expression can be used in reference to someone who likes to threaten people and scare them off, but actually doesn’t do much. 

#14 A mentira tem pernas curtas.

Literal translation: “The lie has short legs.”

This Brazilian saying states that while you can get away with lies for a little while, people will eventually catch up with the truth and figure it out.

#15 Na cama que farás, nela te deitarás.

Literal translation: “You’ll lie on the bed you’ll make.”

This old Portuguese saying means that the decisions we make today have an impact on our future. All of our actions have consequences.

This saying can be applied to both practical and moral contexts. In the first case, it’s related to the direction of our lives. In the second case, one could interpret it to represent the idea of karma or the law of retribution.  

#16 Em terra de cego, quem tem olho é rei.

Literal translation: “In a land of the blind, a one-eyed man is a king.”

The “eye” in this proverb can be interpreted as resourcefulness. Even if someone has only a little bit of insight, that insight can make a huge difference among people who don’t have it.

Desiderius Erasmus (Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1469-1536) was one of the first to use this phrase. However, the phrase is still rather popular in Portuguese culture to this day.

#17 Em boca fechada não entra mosca.

Literal translation: “A fly doesn’t enter a closed mouth.”

If you keep quiet, there’s a lower chance of bad consequences. This Brazilian saying is widely used by parents to discipline naughty, insubordinate children.

#18 Ladrão de tostão, ladrão de milhão.

Literal translation: “The thief of a penny is a thief of a million.”

This popular Brazilian saying states that if a person is willing to steal a small amount, there are no moral boundaries to keep them from stealing more.

The quote can also be applied in broader contexts unrelated to stealing. For example, it may be a categorical affirmation that small deeds are significant in shaping a person’s character.

#19 Ninguém diga: desta água não beberei.

Literal translation: “Thou shalt not say: of this water, I shall not drink.”

This is the most popular form of a common Brazilian saying. A longer version of it adds that the path may be long and the person can get hungry or thirsty on the way.

This Portuguese quote is nearly equivalent to the English proverb, “Never say never.”

A Man Getting Water Sample

I shall not drink this water… unless the thirst is appalling!

#20 Se você vir a barba do vizinho pegar fogo, coloque a sua de molho.

Literal translation: “If you see the neighbor’s beard catching fire, you should dip yours.”

The meaning of this old Brazilian saying is this: Be careful. Watch for signs and act in response to them in an appropriate manner. Sure, dipping one’s beard in water may not be the most reasonable course of action, but it gets the point across. This is one of the oddest and most funny Portuguese quotes on this list.

#21 Macaco velho não mete a mão em cumbuca.

Literal translation: “The old monkey does not put his hand in a bowl-shaped fruit.”

Here’s another old Brazilian saying that’s built upon imagery that may be strange to foreigners. It basically means that smart and experienced people don’t interfere in situations which may lead to potential harmful consequences. 

7. Conclusion

In this article, you learned some quotes in Portuguese on a variety of topics. Which one was your favorite, and why? What are some popular quotes in your language? We look forward to hearing from you!

When it comes to Portuguese quotes and numerous resources for better learning, PortuguesePod101 is one of the richest online Portuguese learning platforms. We offer a nearly endless collection of YouTube videos and lessons on our YouTube channel, and our website features articles, vocabulary lists, and many other types of engaging media that will teach you Portuguese in the fastest, easiest, and most fun way.

Happy Portuguese learning!

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