Saying Red

red_car_208721The school run along the Silver Coast goes on for miles, a long distance sprint each day, with only pine trees on either side of the almost empty road.  The monotony this morning was broken by my daughter talking about school work, Valentine’s Day, red hearts…the colour red.  Staring straight ahead at the road I learned these words of wisdom.


“Did you know that there are two words for ‘red’ in Portuguese?” said daughter.

“Well no, I didn’t know that.  Actually, I can’t remember one word for red…which is fairly shocking considering how long I’ve been here.”


Heritage camping 2012_3635

‘capacetes vermelhos’ or ‘red helmets’

“Don’t use it that often.  Apart from at the fish counter when asking for a red herring.”

“Well, you may like to know that in Portuguese there are two words for red, “vermelho’ and ‘encarnade’.”


Seeing red in Lisbon

“That would be like saying vermillion or red in English I suppose?”  I slowed the car down for a small, ginger dog that was trotting across the motorway.  Luckily for the dog there wasn’t another car in sight.



“Nope.  It’s more confusing.  In my old school at Castelo Branco they said you should use ‘vermelho’ because ‘encarnado’ was out dated.  Only old people ever said ‘encarnado’.”


café in Castelo Branco

“Hmmm.  Better not say that then.  Don’t want to seem old.”

“No but…here in Leiria I was told that if you use ‘encarnado’ it’s hopelessly cool.  The latest way to say red.


Portuguese football shirt. Camisa vermelha. Maybe.

Sounds like an ‘arenque vermelho’ to me…..or an ‘arenque encarnado’?*


images herring

*red herring.



2 thoughts on “Saying Red

  1. Lol.. Encarnado is the southern way and vermelho is used in the north. Still the official way is vermelho, still if you say Encarnado everyone will know what you are on about. The strange meanders of the Portuguese language are immense. For instance ,

    -nada = nothing
    -nada = swimming

    -canto = conrner
    -canto = I sing

    Pelo – 1 hair of fur
    Pelo – through

    Speaking of fur and hair .in Portugal the hairs in your harms are fur (pelos) the hairs in your head (hair) are hair(cabelos) You only have hair in your scalps all the rest are fur , or “pelos”.
    Another interesting pitstop for the English speaking person that is exploring the Portuguese languAge is theword for mustache is ” bigode”, foneticly you say it “be God”.

    Enjoy the Anglo Luso experience


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