Spanish and Portuguese False Cognates

Foreign Service Institute: From Spanish to Portuguese

Cognates are useful, but false or misleading ones are troublesome. Here are several Spanish and Portuguese false cognates to watch out for. (Only the Portuguese words in the first table are recorded so far.)


Spanish   Portuguese  
exquisito (exquisite)
esquisito (rare, unusual)
rubio (blond) ruivo (red head)
rojo (red) roxo (purple)
largo (long)
largo (wide)
rato (while, time) rato (rat)
escoba (broom) escôva (brush)
cena (supper) cena (scene)
apellido (family name) apelido (nickname)
sobrenombre (nickname) sobrenome (family name)
cuarto (room) quarto (bedroom)
cadera (hip) cadeira (chair)
escritorio (desk) escritório (office)
traer (to bring) trair (to betray)
reparar (to repare) reparar (to notice)
acordar(se) (to remember) acordar (to awake)
barata (cheap - fem.) barata (cockroach; cheap - fem.)


Portuguese equivalents of Spanish words given above:

  Spanish Portuguese
(exquisite) exquisito/a requintado/a
(blond) rubio/a louro/a
(red) rojo/a vermelho/a
(long) largo/a longo/a
(while, time) rato tempo
(broom) escoba vassoura
(supper) cena ceia
(family name) apellido sobrenome
(nickname) sobrenombre apelido
(room) cuarto sala
(hip) cadera quadril
(desk) escritorio escrivaninha
(to bring) traer trazer
(to repare) reparar preparar
(to remember) acordarse lembrar
(cheap) barato/a barato/a


Spanish equivalents of Portuguese words given above:

  Spanish Portuguese
(rare, unusual) raro/a esquisito/a
(red head) pelirrojo/a ruivo/a
(purple) morado/a roxo/a
(wide) amplio/a largo/a
(rat) rata rato
(brush) cepillo escôva
(scene) escena cena
(nickname) sobrenombre apelido
(family name) apellido sobrenome
(bedroom) recámara quarto
(chair) silla cadeira
(office) oficina escritório
(to betray) traicionar trair
(to notice) notar reparar
(to awake) despertarse acordar
(cockroach) cucaracha barata

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