As I understand it, direita means "right" and esquerda means "left". My Capoeira teacher sprinkles those in to let us know which leg a kick is using, or which direction to dodge. While I definitely appreciate how distinct the words are from each other ("left" and "right" share enough that I'll occasionally mishear it in noisy circumstances), periodically we'll have a situation where he's calling out lefts and rights quickly enough that having three syllables for each word is a bit cumbersome (for example, say we're doing a punching combination that consists of a left hook, two right jabs, and a left uppercut, and he's calling out "Left, Right, Right, Left" to remind us which hand we're striking with).

My teacher is not Brazilian, and is unaware of any common shortened form, but I figured there has to have been at least one case where someone has had to shout the words in rapid succession and decided on shortened forms. The closest I've found takes it to two syllables, albeit at the cost of making them harder to tell apart, destra and sestra.

  • 2
    When shouting quickly "left, right", "da" and "ta" syllables are not stressed as normal, sometimes not even heard, but are implied in our heads. Another option may be using numbers: "um" (one), "dois" (two), which is very common in some martial arts.
    – sumitani
    May 24, 2021 at 23:41
  • As a Brazilian, if there is, I don't know them. The maximum of my knowledge is what @sumitani said: "1" for left and "2" for right. But in most situations the context must be given, even though If you say it in a martial-art-context, people will very probably understand,
    – Schilive
    May 25, 2021 at 0:30
  • Why should there be a shortened form? If there were, he would use them.
    – Lambie
    May 26, 2021 at 16:30
  • @Lambie, there could be a shortened form. As they are not a native speaker, Sean doesn't know if there is one: so they asked. I find it to be a good question.
    – ANeves
    May 27, 2021 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


Except for D and E, which are by no means standard abbreviations, but are sometimes used in the written language, there isn't any. Not even in the army did I hear a shortened form.

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    According to academia.org.br/nossa-lingua/reducoes, they do exist, but are for theatrical demarcations. You could put this link as a reference.
    – Schilive
    May 26, 2021 at 23:31
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    @Schilive I figure the OP is about the spoken language. During a military training session, for instance, "dir volver" is more likely to be misunderstood than "direita volver".
    – Centaurus
    May 27, 2021 at 1:28
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    In Portugal, "dto" is the shortened version, used when writing addresses. I think that "dir" is perfectly understood from context - but it's not the most common.
    – ANeves
    May 27, 2021 at 12:14
  • 1
    In any case, those shortened versions (dto, esq, fr, traz) are spoken in their full form and not shortened; so these shortened versions do not apply for this question.
    – ANeves
    May 27, 2021 at 12:15
  • 1
    In medicine, in Brazil, we always use D and E, as in OD, OE, RD, RE, MSD, MSE; where O = olho, R = rim, MS = membro superior. These are current usage.
    – Centaurus
    May 27, 2021 at 12:52

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