English and Portuguese False Friends

"Jarra" and "Jar"

False friends, falso cognatos, are pairs of words in two different languages that look the same, or sound the same but have different meanings. For example, in English the word actual means in fact, real, but in Portuguese the word atual means up-to-date, current.

There are many reasons why this happens: common roots may cause words to look the same, but immigration, literature and traditions can produce from major to minor changes in the meaning of words that one shared the same origin.

Here’s a list of some commons false friends in English and Portuguese.


English Portuguese Meaning in Portuguese English False Friend in Portuguese
amass amassar to crush amass = acumular
application aplicação financial investment application = aplicativo
assist assistir to watch to assist = ajudar
assume assumir to take over to assume = presumir
balcony balcão counter (in a bar) balcony = terraço
collar colar necklace, to glue collargola, colarinho
dent dente tooth dent = amassado, batida
editor editor publisher editor = redator
fabric fábrica factory fabric = tecido
grip gripe the flu to grip = agarrar
injury injúria insult injury = ferida
jar jarra jug jar = pote
library livraria bookshop library = biblioteca
notice notícia news to notice = perceber
parents parentes relatives parents = pais
pasta pasta folder pasta = massa, macarrão
pretend pretender to intend pretend = fingir
pull pular to jump pull = puxar
push puxar to pull push = empurrar
support suportar to withstand support = apoiar
tax taxa fee tax = imposto