My favourite word in Brazilian Portuguese

One of the most known words in Portuguese is saudade. If you have a Brazilian friend, I’m sure they’ve mentioned this term for the feeling of missing someone or something, the name we give to that pressure in your chest that overflows, coming up to your throat.

But this is not my favourite word in Portuguese, the one I choose to teach all my friends from other countries.

The word I choose is something equally caring and tender.



Photo: Marija Tiurina

According to my brief research, the words comes from quimbundo language, from Angola. Brazil received 20% of people trafficked from Africa by the Europeans — this represents roughly 5 million. No wonder there is a lot of influence of African languages in Brazilian Portuguese.

What is even more interesting is that the original meaning was something about twisting someone’s head violently, to kill them. How did it turned to a tender movement with your fingers through someone’s hair? I don’t know.

It is such a universal act of caring – between parents and their kids, lovers, friends, even people and their pets. We do it all the time. It feels so good. We can ask for this specific tender cuddling, we can name this specific act of cuddling when remember great loving memories with the ones you love. So how come you guys don’t have this word in other languages?

feels so gooooooooood

Learn it: cafuné. And then you can keep doing cafuné and tell people that there is a word for it 🙂


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