In ptBR, "rapariga" is primarily used as a synonym for "concubina", "amante" or "meretriz" (Aurélio) and I often heard it when I was a child, during the 1960s. Nowadays it is certainly outdated and few people use it. Then again, when I visit Portugal I hear it and don't perceive any pejorative meaning. Depending on context, can it mean "meretriz" or "concubina" in ptPT?

ps - Even though "meretriz" comes as number 4 definition in "Aurelio Online", I always heard it as a pejorative.

  • 4
    I think "Aurélio" is usually used to refer to the "Dicionário Aurélio" published by Editora Positivo. You link to "Dicionário do Aurélio", which seems to have borrowed the name, but otherwise has nothing to do with "The" Aurélio. In fact, "Dicionário do Aurélio" seems to be suspiciously similar to the Dicionário Priberam. (Compare the former to the latter.)
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 26, 2015 at 13:43
  • Where in Brazil do you hear rapariga as a synonym for concubina, amante, meretriz?
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 26, 2015 at 13:52
  • 1
    @Earthliŋ As I said before, I haven't heard it for a long time. Whatever the meaning, the word is outdated. About 40 to 55 years ago I used to hear it in Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo states.
    – Centaurus
    Sep 26, 2015 at 15:48
  • @Earthliŋ When I mention "Aurélio" without a link I refer to "Novo Dicionário Aurélio da Língua Portuguesa, Editora Nova Fronteira, printed Edition". All times when I provided a link, I assumed it was the same dictionary. I will check that and try to find the real Aurélio online.
    – Centaurus
    Sep 26, 2015 at 15:52
  • 2
    Ok, then we're talking about the same Aurélio, because it was published by Nova Fronteira before 2003 and after by Positivo from 2003 until now. Take a look, but I don't think the real Aurélio is available online.
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:05

2 Answers 2


(this answer describes European usage, since that's what you ask about)

You have two questions there:

  1. whether it can mean "prostitute" and
  2. whether it has a pejorative connotation.

For instance, prostituta or meretriz just mean "prostitute" and have little or no negative connotation, whereas puta and (to a lesser extent) rameira do have a negative connotation and (generally) also mean "prostitute". If you wanted to use a pejorative word for someone sexually promiscuous but that's not a prostitute, you could use galdéria ou puta.

But in the case of rapariga, the answer is no to both -- it doesn't have a pejorative connotation and it doesn't mean "female prostitute".

(I was going to say its usage is comparable to moça -- which is a bit old-fashioned in Portugal --, but then Priberam lists it as being a synonym for meretriz in Brazil; it seems every word for "girl" means prostitute in Brazil :) ).

The word for girl that we in Portugal generally use to refer to prostitutes is menina, and even then it needs to be clear from the context (e.g. "ir às meninas") and it doesn't have a pejorative connotation (it's actually euphemistic).

  • 1
    What other words for girl mean prostitute in Brazil?
    – Jacinto
    Sep 26, 2015 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Jacinto In addition to "puta" which is the most vulgar of them, a prostitute in Rio de Janeiro is usually referred to as: garota de programa, mulher de programa and prostitute, of course. These are current usage and are not offensive. Some people also say piranha, vadia, mulher da vida, when they want to give a negative connotation. Words like rameira, meretriz and rapariga are outdated. As for "menina" it's rarely used ("onde é que ficam as meninas aqui nessa cidade?" "Onde ficam as mulheres?" a foreigner might ask.)
    – Centaurus
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:04
  • 1
    Moça doesn't have a pejorative connotation in Brazil
    – Math
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:08
  • 2
    @ANeves We never refer to a prostitute as "uma moça". Moça in Brazil means "a young woman, under the age of 18 usually" or it can also mean "a virgin, a woman who never had sexual intercourse" but the latter is outdated as more and more young women engage in sexual activity earlier.
    – Centaurus
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:10
  • 2
    Garota de programa etc. is very different from garota, just like the meaning of menina changes quite a bit from ir às meninas to a menina dá-me licença. We also say mulher da vida, but mulher is of course just woman.
    – Jacinto
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:57

Just to try to clear some of the confusion with the dictionary definitions...



[De rapaz, mas de formação obsc.]
Substantivo feminino.

  1. P. us. no Brasil Mulher nova; moça: [...]
  2. P. us. no Brasil Adolescente do sexo feminino.
  3. Lus. Moça do campo
  4. Bras. N. N.E. MG GO Amante² (6) ou concubina.
  5. Bras. N. N.E. MG GO Meretriz. [...]



(origem obscura)
substantivo feminino

  1. Mulher nova. =JOVEM, MOÇA
  2. Mulher entre a infância e a adolescência. = MOÇA
  3. Menina pequena.
  4. [Brasil] Meretriz.

It appears that according to the ptPT dictionary Priberam, the pejorative usage is restricted to Brazil. (The Dicionário do Aurélio you link to is based on the ptPT Dicionário Priberam and not on the ptBR Dicionário Aurélio.)

Moreover, the ptBR dictionary Aurélio is more precise about where in Brazil rapariga is used pejoratively: primarily in the North (AC, AP, AM, PA, RO, RR, TO) and North-East (AL, BA, CE, MA, PB, PE, PI, RN, SE) regions, together with the states of Minas Gerais (MG) and Goiás (GO). That is, here:


(image adapted from SVG file on Wikimedia)

In other areas of Brazil it can also be used to mean "young woman" or "female adolescent", but this usage is rare (P. us. no Brasil = Pouco usado no Brasil).


Does “rapariga” have a pejorative connotation in ptPT?

No, rapariga does not have a pejorative connotation in ptPT.

ps - Even though "meretriz" comes as number 4 definition in "Aurelio Online", I always heard it as a pejorative.

This online dictionary "Dicionário do Aurélio" doesn't have anything to do with Aurélio, but is likely based on the ptPT dictionary "Priberam", so one shouldn't expect it to give definitions pertaining to Brazilian Portuguese.

  • Can you provide a link to the site where you got that map?
    – Centaurus
    Sep 26, 2015 at 16:15
  • All the information you provided, Earthling, is great, but left me a bit confused. ptPT and ptBR Priberams give the same definitions for rapariga. (I think the only difference between the versions is in spelling.) And I think it is Priberam that is based on other dictionaries, not the other way round. And, Centaurus, I think Earthling just coloured a map with the information from Aurélio.
    – Jacinto
    Sep 26, 2015 at 17:16
  • @Jacinto Sorry, I lost you. What do you mean ptPT and ptBR Priberams? I quoted Priberam as an ptPT dictionary and Aurélio as ptBR dictionary. Both dictionaries agree that the pejorative usage of rapariga is restricted to Brazil. Aurélio is more precise as to where in Brazil this usage is most common.
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 26, 2015 at 18:01
  • @Jacinto I added a tl;dr at the end. Does this make my answer any clearer?
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 26, 2015 at 18:27
  • I see what you mean: Priberam is published in Portugal. There are two versions of Priberam, ptPT and ptBR, which you can choose, but I think the only difference is spelling (say gênero and género). But since they give meanings that are current in Brazil only, at least they attempt to be a dictionary of the Portuguses language, no matter where it is used. Now, I've seen entries in Priberam that appear to come straight out of other dictionaries, so not sure who's copying whom in this case. So you have a paper Aurélio, do you? it it's online you could include a link.
    – Jacinto
    Sep 26, 2015 at 18:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.