Do we have any Portuguese expression that is equivalent to the English expression "Jack of all trades, master of none"?

The English expression refers to someone that has many skills in different areas, but isn't a expert in any of these skills.

The Wikipedia article mentions the origin of the term and also some Portuguese expressions like:

Pau pra toda obra ("Wood for any building");


Homem dos sete ofícios ("man of seven trades");

Quem tem jeito para tudo, não tem jeito para nada";

The problem is, the three first options only fit the first part of the expression ("jack of all trades") but do not include the last part ("master of none").

The last option does not look like a good option, because the meaning is not the same, it's using the word "jeito" that isn't the best option to talk about skills. Besides, I never saw the expression before.

Are there any other Portuguese expressions similar to "jack of all trades, master of none", or are these options really the best ones?

  • 2
    I think the last one fits like a glove.
    – ANeves
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:17
  • 2
    A couple years ago I tried to search for an answer to this same question. I think there is not an expression in Portuguese that fits well the meaning of "Jack of all trades, master of none". Everything you said is correct except for the "jeito" interpretation. "Ter jeito" is commonly used as a synonym for "being skilled". The last expression is not commonly used (I wouldn't say that is a popular expression, on the contrary) and also gives you a more negative connotation than the English expression, in my opinion.
    – cinico
    Oct 27, 2015 at 18:31
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    I am not sure, @James... maybe we could open a question in ELL. :) I had the impression that the English expression is negative. But its Wikipedia article seems to imply that it can have both: the same negative connotation that "Jack of all trades" sometimes has today (notice "sometimes").
    – ANeves
    Oct 27, 2015 at 20:52
  • 2
    The proverb does have a negative connotation. It can be taken literally as "he who works at many trades never becomes really expert at any of them" but it can also be used to describe "a man who can't persevere in one direction, but wastes his time and effort in many."
    – Centaurus
    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:34
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    My interpretation of the English expression is more like "He who is good at many things, but not an expert at any". I believe that the last Portuguese expression means something like "Who is skilled at many things, is not skilled at any". The difference is on the usage of same word "jeito" which puts equal significance in being skilled at nothing, as in being skilled at many things.
    – cinico
    Oct 28, 2015 at 13:29

4 Answers 4


In Brazilian Portuguese we usually use faz um pouco de tudo or faz de tudo um pouco. It is like a guy that has many skills but does not have a deep experience or knowledge of any of those skills. So, the guy that "faz um pouco de tudo" knows about the subjects, but only the basics.

Some persons here in Brazil also say dá sempre um jeito, but I think that it is a little different from what you want. It's something more specific.


Meu tio faz um pouco de tudo.

Meu tio dá sempre um jeito.


I'm a native Portuguese speaker. And I thought a lot about this question. I think in Brazilian Portuguese it will be Mestre de gambiarras and in European Portuguese it will be Desenrascado ;

Mestre de gambiarras means you can do many things, but none of them very well. It's like a temporary thing!

Desenrascado is an adjective, and means a person who can do many things, but none of them very well. It's like a temporary thing!


The closest in meaning to Jack of all trades, master of none I could find is:

Homem de sete ofícios em todos é remendão. (A man of all trades lacks perfection in all of them.)

Remendão means patchy or lacking in perfection, from remendo, patch. If you google the phrase you’ll get loads of proverb sites, but I found two spontaneous uses:

Nenhum ciclo de vida pode maximizar todas as vantagens. O dito popular "homem de sete ofícios em todos é remendão" sugere por que há restrições na evolução dos ciclos de vida. As características de um animal em qualquer estágio do ciclo de vida podem otimizar seu desempenho em uma atividade, mas reduzindo…

A propósito de um enfermeiro com 50 ‘especializações.’ Homem de 7 ofícios em todos eles é remendão.. neste caso 50. Mas há que lhe dar os parabéns. Nem que tivesse 100 especializações, o que interessa é que se sinta bem... e o resto é tudo paisagem.

Wkipedia, corroborated by this answer on ELL, says the short form Jack of all trades can both be appreciative or derogatory, the speaker’s intention being revealed only by the context. The same is true of homem dos sete ofícios. In fact, homem dos sete ofícios tends to be used appreciatively, as the short Jack of all trades was historically. But adding master of none or em todos remendão will definitely make it negative.

João Faz-Tudo had its equivalent in Elizabethan English in Joahnes factotum. In portuguese, factótum also means faz-tudo.


In brazilian Portuguese there is another interesting but not so known expression that is "homem banda" ("band man") or "homem orquestra" ("orchestra man"). Originally it defines a musicist who plays various instruments simultaneously, and is neither appreciative nor derogatory. But in some contexts the first variant can be used to talk about a person who has many complementary skills and can run them all together. Usually it's a comic or ambiguous expression, so it's meaning can be appreciative or derogatory according to the context. It is appreciative when the focus is at the skills, and derogatory when the objective is to emphasise the absence of expertise in any of them.

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