I've noticed that most of the new words that end in -ion (and a few in -on) in English end up being translated into Portuguese ending in -ão.

There are a few exceptions, such as words that are not literally translated and a few that seem to have derived from Latin instead:

  • abortion (Latin abortus), translated as aborto and not abortão;
  • (de)congestion (Latin congerere), translated as (des)congestionamento and also (des)congestão.

Are there more exceptions? Can we infer from this pattern that new words are no longer "imported" from Latin (but from English instead)?

  • If you wanted to ask about new words, why are your examples old words? Old words in English are often from Latin, so your examples don't seem to fit your questions about new words and about whether words are coming to Portuguese from Latin or English. Or did you not mean to ask about new words in the first place?
    – Dan Getz
    Dec 29, 2015 at 20:55
  • Oops, I see now that you were only listing exceptions. But it's a bit confusing that the exceptions are old words.
    – Dan Getz
    Dec 29, 2015 at 21:02
  • The word socialization / socialização appears to be an example of what you're asking about in the first paragraph.
    – Dan Getz
    Dec 29, 2015 at 21:06
  • 1
    @DanGetz "newer" words examples: electron - eletrão, positron - positrão, polymerization - polimerização, cyclotron - ciclotrão, cistron - cistrão, cation - catião, zwitterion - zwitterião, phonon - fonão... There's a bigger list every now and then those physicists come up with something new.
    – Armfoot
    Dec 30, 2015 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


Your question is really interesting, in fact, some "language lessons" that promises teaching portuguese speakers learn English, saying like: "Learn lots of English words in 5 minutes", they tell the students that Portuguese Words ending in -ão change to English in -ion. But it is not simple though.

English has its roots in some Languages, according Wikipedia, about of 30% of English words were influenced by French. I read a time ago, words ending in -ion were influenced by French. But as I said, not of them are translated to Portuguese in -ão.

Lets compare some English words ending in -ion and their translations to French and Language:

Transformation -> Transformation -> Transformação

Formation -> Formation -> Formação

Action -> Action -> Ação


Abortion -> Avortement -> Aborto

Transportation -> Transport -> Transporte

The word congestion can be translated to Portugese in Congestão and has its French word congestion.

I can't tell you its a rule, but I think the words ending in -ion whose French correspondence is the same, are translated to Portuguese as ending in -ão. But the others ones not ending in -ion in French are not translated to Portuguese in -ão


I'm not sure what you mean by "new words". Most English words ending in -ion (usually nouns) have had a Portuguese counterpart for a very long time, including "abortion" and "congestion". Though their Portuguese translation often ends in -ão, there are several exceptions. I wouldn't presume they have been incorporated into the Portuguese language by way of English because most of them have been in use for centuries, long before the English Language began to have the global importance it has today.

To name just a few:

  • abbreviation - abreviatura (or abreviação)
  • amelioration - melhora
  • confrontation - confronto (ou confrontação)
  • registration - registro, matrícula
  • toleration - tolerância
  • recognition - reconhecimento
  • motion - movimento

And there are also words ending in -ion which have a Latin origin and found their way into the English language via Old French, e.g. onion (cebola in Portuguese). Though both words come from Latin, they don't share the same origin.


Se fosse abortão, seria um aborto grande. Então escolheriam traduzir por abortação. Mas alguém não gostou de nenhum dos termos e escolheu aborto.

Todas as palavras com final ão são traduções do inglês, como assim?

Inclusive, troca-se o tion por ção, com algumas ressalvas.

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