EP word of the week (#46): calções de banho / cueca de banho

It’s a law of life: when the weather gets hotter, humans adapt by slowly getting more and more naked. People’s limits vary: by country, region, culture, self-consciousness with your body, but it’s fair to say we always see more of each other when the temperatures get higher.

Considering both Portugal and Brazil are blessed to have gorgeous beaches anda generally hot climate, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that each language would develop its own ways of talking about men’s beachwear. Actually, one could always argue that the development of beaches as places of leisure for the masses and the mass production of clothes are both products of the 20th century, well after the two language variants became established as independent units; as such, it’s only normal to find differences between such normal things as beach shorts and swim briefs.

In Portugal, swimshorts are called [os] calções de banho or [o] fato de banho, while Brazilians prefer the term [o] calção de banhoBoardshorts are known as [os] calções in EP, and as [a] bermuda in BP (this noun is also present in Portugal, but it’s not as prevalent). Here, the distinction is between shorts you wear specifically for swimming, and shorts that can be multipurposed into regular summer clothing (which is wearable in other places other than the beach).

Meanwhile, swim briefs are known as [a] cueca de banho, with the catch-all term [o] fato de banho being equally applicable here; since [a] cueca means “briefs” (the regular underwear), sometimes people prefer using [o] fato de banho as a way to emphasize the purpose of the garment instead of its shape. In Brazil, these tight-fitting briefs used at the beach are known as [a] sunga.

Related words:

  • [a] praia: beach
  • [a] areia: sand
  • [a] concha: seashell
  • nadar: to swim
  • [a] natação: swimming
  • [o] mergulho: underwater diving; also diving (jumping from a platform/springboard into water), and dive (the action of diving)
  • fazer mergulho: to dive underwater
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