The Capoeira Blog

Basic Capoeira Vocabulary
August 16, 2007, 11:19 am
Filed under: Tips & Guides

When you step into your first capoeira class, you will be bombarded by many foreign words. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be fluent in Brazilian Portuguese to play capoeira, but it would help you to know a few basic words you may hear while training.

This post would not have been possible without the great Portuguese for Capoeiristas tutorial. I am just giving you basic words and phrases. Go there to learn more about pronunciation, sentence structure, grammar, usage, AKA to learn how to speak the language.

Also, check out the Capoeira Terms page for a wider selection of capoeira related words. And the Movements page so that you can remember the names of moves (this always seems to be hard for people).

Body Parts

mao: hand

braco: arm

cabeca: head

cotovelo: elbow

perna: leg

pe: foot

joelho: knee

Numbers (One – Ten)

um: one

dois: two

tres: three

quatro: four

cinco: five

seis: six

sete: seven (pronounced “setch”)

oito: eight (pronounced “oy-toh”)

nove: nine (pronounced noh-vay)

dez: ten


eu: I

voce: you

ele/ela: he/she

nos: we


quando: when

onde: where

o que: what

por que: why

quem: who

como: how


berimbau: the main instrument of capoeira

atabaque: the capoeira drum

pandeiro: the capoeira tambourine


de novo: again

mais uma vez: one more time

assim: like this

pior: worse

melhor: better

pouco: few/little

muito: many/very

esquerda: left

direita: right

para tras: backwards

para frente: forward

mais: more

menos: less

rapido: fast

devegar: slow

roda: circle/wheel, this is the circle of people in which the capoeira game is played

jogo: game, jogar capoeira is to play capoeira

volta ao mundo: around the world, this is when capoeiristas circle the roda, usually to catch their breath or take a break in the game

mestre: a master of capoeira

esquiva: dodge

movimento: movement

comprar de jogo: buy the game, this is when you enter the jogo by “cutting out” a player, it’s sometimes considered disrespectful to buy from mestres and other instructors

This is part of of my guide beginner’s guide to capoeira. If you like what you read here, head over to Capoeira For Beginners for the entire series!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice work Faisca, should help many. Since most things who fall in each class on the list.

Comment by Maritaca

I tried to give a good overview of common words that one might hear the mestre say. Even if you don’t understand the entire language, sometimes catching a word here or there can help you understand what someone is saying.

Comment by faisca

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