Malandro- Negative or positive?

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by Sorte, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Sorte New Member

    Swedish, Sweden

    I wonder is someone could explain the meaning of the word "malandro". Is it a negative or positive description of somebody? I would also like to know whether "malandro" can only be used for describing a male.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Minimagpro Member

    Cádiz España
    The word comes from the word malandragem.

    The way we use it is we say <malandro> for a guy who is kind of a thug or a beach bum. We use it talking about a guy living the lifestyle of malandragem.

    Someone can give you a better explanation, I dont know the exact meaning in english
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Sorte's question is well-put. The concept of malandro is not as simplistic as "thug". It's a complex mix of the negative with the positive. A clever swindler, perhaps. Do you know that film with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster called Maverick? I think that's more or less it. ;)
  4. Sorte New Member

    Swedish, Sweden
    The explanation "clever swindler" clarifies a lot. Obrigada!
  5. kurumin

    kurumin Senior Member

    salvador bahia brasil, brazilian portuguese & tupy
    malandro is masculine,
    malandra is feminine ;)
  6. Sorte New Member

    Swedish, Sweden
    Thanks! But is it common to describe a woman as a "malandra"? I think somebody has said that it is solely a desciption of a man...?
  7. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    We use malandra for women too, mainly malandrinha that gives it an affectionate meaning. Being malandrinha implies a desirable quality for a woman. But a malandra or malandro can have positive and negative way, it dependes of the intention of the user. Here a discussion related to this term.
  8. spielenschach Senior Member

    Portugal . Portuguese

    That story of malandrinha it’s, I think a ‘Brazilian’ story, as in Portugal we haven’t. We say also ‘malandro’ (positive or negative?) with the meaning of a lover of flirt, not exactly a D. Juan, but he likes to conquer the girls one by one …and these are always desiring for the flirt.
  9. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Reviving an old thread here. Can someone explain "malandro" in this song?
  10. Fer BA

    Fer BA Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Castellano de Buenos Aires

    If you can get and listen Opera do malandro (Chico Buarque) or read Dona Flor es seus dois maridos (paying attention to the character of Vadinho) you will grasp much better the meaning of the term. I'm not sure that clever swindler (at least in the meaning that's common in the States -closer to a charming con artist-) is exactly the same.
  11. Nonstar

    Nonstar Senior Member

    the outskirts of inner pantyhoses
    In-love-with-the-coming-race Portuguese
    Also, there is even this gentleman, Sérgio Mallandro, the malandro par excellence.
  12. Ariel Knightly

    Ariel Knightly Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, at least in my dialect, malandro usually has a negative connotation. When it's a noun, it describes a (cleverly) dishonest man who is always involved in illegal activities. This use is normally restricted to men. Mind you, I'm not saying malandra and malandrinha are impossible, but these sound rather exotic to my ears.

    Malandro can also be an adjective. In this case, it means the same as cunning, which isn't necessarily negative.
  13. Carfer

    Carfer Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Guess that song is Brazilian, so perhaps it's not appropriate to recall Outsider's post #2 about the meaning of 'malandro' in Portugal. It can have the same negative connotation that Ariel mentions above, but the usual meaning is 'clever swindler', may apply to females and besides it can also be quite affectionate, especially if you use it referring to children or young people.
  14. Mike Valente New Member

    Durham City, UK
    Just to throw in my little bit of knowlege

    Malandro is sometimes used in Italian meaning meaning lively, high spirited, exuberant.... but more commonly used is vivace.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  15. 4TranslatingEnglish Senior Member

    Portugal, Lisbon
    Good old fashion Portuguese
    And to add to all that was said, malandro, at least in Portugal, can also mean "naughty". Conversa malandra can be naughty talking, yes, as in sexual innuendo.
    Malandrice can be what Brazilians call sacanagem. So beware when you use it. ;)

    Eu própria, ao puxar o assunto, estou a ser malandra. :)
  16. mglenadel

    mglenadel Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Specific uses in Rio:

    Lazy: "Esse João é um malandro, nem quer saber de arrumar um emprego."
    Cunning/Clever: "Mas é claro que ele não acreditou na história que você contou. Ele é malandro."
    Thuggish: "Filha minha não sai com um malandro daqueles!"

    All of those come from the image associated with the original "malandro": a clever, cunning, slightly ill-principled, self-reliant petty-criminal, sometimes a pimp, sometimes a fencer, sometimes a smuggler.
  17. Guigo

    Guigo Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Português (Brasil)
    Moreira da Silva (1902-2000), o rei dos malandros, teria dito:

    "Se malandro soubesse como é bom estar do lado da lei, ficava do lado da lei só de malandragem."

    Eu penso que a palavra malandro, no Brasil, tem atualmente uma conotação mais para positiva; com sentido de esperto, vivaz, matreiro. A conotação negativa recai sobre a palavra pilantra.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  18. TexasLifter New Member

    I'm quite familiar with the various uses of this term 'malandro' and its variations (such as malandrasso, for a big time malandro). If you've taken the time to read the different answers, you start to get an idea of its meaning. Of course it has different connotations depending on region. Here in Tijuana, being far from Portugal and close to the U.S., it's usually negative. I often tell the locals here that they don't discern between malandro and 'rata' or 'ratero.' Rata means a thief (as opposed to.a snitch in Mexico). Think of the malandro as a Robinhood who forgets the part of giving to the poor. They use their cunning, people skills, and often are very likable. They do not victimize friends and try to keep it as non-personal as possible. They're more apt to take a whole rack of clothes from a corporate place like a Macy's, but will not steal a stick of gum from a mom & pops place. The Portuguese have folk songs about malandros because they often take from the larger legal thieves like their governments or tax agencies.
  19. inmigracionFL New Member

    Spanish - Latin America
    I know this is a Portuguese thread, but in Venezuela a "malandro" is definitely a criminal. My clients say it all the time when referring to why they left their country.
  20. leolucas1980 Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    Brazilians don't fully agree about that because of different political views and philosophy of life.

    Some Brazilians think that malandragem is a good Brazilian feature that help people survive in adverse situations. They might think of police as oppressive. Many people with such an opinion is pro-drug liberalization. The composer and singer Bezerra da Silva is probably the better example of someone that used malandro in a positive way. He has been accused of apology to drugs by many critics.

    Other Brazilians, perhaps the most conservative ones, think of malandragem as a bad aspect of Brazilian culture because it leads to corruption, crime and poverty. Everybody want to take advantage from others, but everybody ends up losing by having a worse society. People that think like this would use malandro as an offense, frequently as a synonym of "criminal".

    Once, a Brit told me that "streetwise" would be a good translation for "malandragem" in a sense. But that is the noun, not the adjective. Is there a "streetwiseR" word?
  21. Tony100000

    Tony100000 Senior Member

    "Streetwise" isn't definitely a noun, as far as I know, but an adjective. Someone who has the knowledge and experience that is needed to deal with the difficulties and dangers of life in a big city. I would simply translate it as "(pessoa) sabida / vivida".
  22. leolucas1980 Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    Indeed, it could be "malandro(a)".
  23. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Yes, streetwise is definitely one of the meanings for malandro.
    malandro - Dicionário Português-Inglês

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