Beleza: What It Means and How to Use This Portuguese Word

So you’ve heard this word before. If you’ve been to Brazil or Portugal, chances are, you have. You might have overheard the expression que beleza and Googled “beleza meaning in English”, but it still puzzles you.

What does it mean? How do you pronounce it? When can you use it? Well… let’s take a look.

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The Brazilian word for beauty, “Beleza” derives from the Italian “Belezza”.

The prefix (start of a word) “Bel” is also shared by words like the French “Belle”, Spanish “Beldad” and Italian “Bello”. It’s also widely used in names like “Bella”, or “Bellatrix” (if you’re into Harry Potter). The suffix “eza” in Portuguese means “possessing or evoking the quality or state of”, so “Bel-eza” points to something that has beauty in itself, or evokes a feeling of beauty (ain’t that nice?).

So you want to pronounce beauty in Portuguese?

Pronounce it “Bay-leh-zah”, where the first syllable has a soft b sound at the start and a very soft y sound at the end. Like many words in the Portuguese language, it is open to interpretation and can take on different meanings based on the context. There is, however, a connection to these meanings and the essence of the word remains unchanged.

Let’s see how the word “Beleza” can be used.

1. To describe beauty as virtue

“A beleza, inteligência e gentileza sempre serão de grande valor”
Beauty, intelligence and kindness will always be of great worth.

A pretty painting

“Beleza” is the Brazilian word for beauty. In this sense, we’re talking beauty as a virtue. You can use “beleza” here when you want to talk about the concept of beauty, its place in society, but without going into what is particularly beautiful in itself.

This lends an analytical approach to the meaning, and can be a great way to impress dinner guests. Leave everyone around the table astounded by your philosophical knowledge.

2. To evoke feelings of agreeableness, contentment or approval

“Esse churrasco é uma beleza!”
This churrasco’s a beauty!

Brazilian churrasco

The word “Beauty” in Portuguese is seen to change here and take on a different meaning. You can use the word “beleza” when something awakens those feelings where you’re happy to be alive.

The word can be used to talk about positive sensory experiences or anything that brings you great delight. It’s used in this context to praise “churrasco”, a great Brazilian style of cooking. If you’re planning a trip to Brazil, find a good “churrasco”; you won’t regret it.

3. To describe intricate beauty or someone that evokes a feeling of beauty

“É uma beleza o sorriso dela.”
Her smile is a thing of beauty.

A beautiful smile

This can be similar to the previous meaning though we’re talking more about your recognition of what’s beautiful rather than your reaction to it. In this case, when talking about “Beleza”, we talk about some particular characteristic where you find beauty.

4. As an informal greeting

The word “Beleza” is a very common greeting in Brazil.

You’re asking someone if “all is a beauty” or if “everything’s good”. The person can then reply “Beleza”, to confirm this or as simply a way to acknowledge your greeting. This informal greeting is generally followed by a hug, handshake or two kisses (if you’re greeting members of the opposite sex).

Find out more about using “Beleza” as a greeting in our article on saying “hello” in Brazilian Portuguese.

Brazilians hugging

5. To get two or more parties on the same page

I tell you “I’ll cycle ahead of you on the beach, drop by the mall, and we’ll meet up at the kiosk for a coconut water (a brilliant Brazilian drink) in 20 minutes, beleza?”

You reply “Beleza”, meaning “all good” in agreement.

The logic is that the proposal agrees with you or sits well with you. In this way, the meaning is not so different from something that evokes a feeling of agreeableness, as mentioned in point #2.

6. In a popular expression: “cansando a minha beleza”

This phrase literally means “wearing out (or tiring) my beauty”.

Here’s a scenario: You’re at the beach with some friends and a vendor comes along to sell you some cold Guaraná (the king of sodas). Your friends can’t decide between diet or regular, and start bickering. You feel time pass and start feeling weary, so you turn around to say they’re wearing out your patience: cansando a minha beleza.

Beach vendor in Brazil

So there you have it! These are the main uses of the word “Beleza”. Click this to hear the pronunciation of Beleza again! I hope you now better understand the meaning of “Beleza” in English and feel confident to add it to your Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary.

I’m off for now. I’ll catch up with you later, beleza?

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