Portuguese Phrase of the Month: “O cão chupando manga”

cão chupando manga

January is a month of mango in our region. The fruit is so delicious that even some dogs don´t miss the change to try a piece. Even now and then one has to remember about “O cão chupando manga”.
What comes to your mind when you hear “the dog sucking on the mango” which is literal translation of the phrase?
Sounds weird, right? But not for Brazilians. “O cão chupando manga” is one of Brazilian Portuguese expressions which has several meanings.
Mango is very popular fruit in Brazil, but show me one person who can eat it with elegance without getting sticky? Imagine if it is not a person but the devil? (“Cão” can be translated in English as a “dog” or “devil”). Quite an unpleasant picture. And here we are – we came to the meaning of the expression: “something or somebody very ugly”.
Ex. Sua prima é tão linda! Mas aquela amiga dela… é “o cão chupando manga”. (Engl. Your cousin is so pretty! But that friend of hers… is quite ugly.)

Another meaning is completely the opposite and is used to say that the person is very good in something, very intelligent and skillful. Indeed to eat mango elegantly you need some special skill.
Ex. Ele não é muito bom em matemática, mas quando se trata de idiomas ele é “o cão chupando manga”! (Engl. He is not very good in maths but when it comes to languages, he is great! )

Also can be used to express that the task is extremely difficult.
Ex. Gerenciar uma empresa grande é “o cão chupando manga”! (Engl. Managing a big company is a difficult job!)

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