False friends in Portuguese

False friends or false cognates are words that sound and/or look the same in two languages but different meaning. Not all familiar sounding words in Portuguese mean the same as they do in English.

The following Portuguese words look and/or sound like English words but have different meanings:

  • Assistir = to watch (to assist = ajudar)
  • Batom = lipstick (baton = cassetete)
  • Bife = steak (beef = carne bovina)
  • Cândido = innocent, naïve (candid = sincero)
  • Casualidade = chance (casualty = vítima de acidente, baixa, perda)
  • Designar = to appoint (to design = projetar, criar)
  • Educado = polite, well-mannered (educated = instruído)
  • Êxito = success (exit = saída)
  • Genial = brilliant (genial = afável, aprazível)
  • Injúria = insult (injury = ferimento)
  • Livaria = book shop (library = biblioteca)
  • Notícia = news (notice = aviso, nota)
  • Parentes = relatives (parents = pais)
  • Particular = personal, private (particular = específico, exato)
  • Pasta = paste, folder, briefcase (pasta = massa)
  • Piedade = pity (piety = devoção)
  • Pretender = to intend, to plan (to pretend = fingir)
  • Puxe = to pull but sounds like push (to push = empurre)
  • Realizer = to carry out, accomplish (to realize = notar, perceber)
  • Tenente = lieutenant (tenent = inquilino)
  • Taxa = rate, fee (tax = imposto)
  • Turno = shift, round (turn = vez, volta)
  • Viola = guitar (viola = violeta)

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