“O Jeitinho Carioca”

Everyone saw at least the original “Shit Girls Say.”  After that, there was a video created for nearly every nationality and type of person imaginable.

Even in Brazil, there were not one, but two versions of “Shit Cariocas Say” (reminder: cariocas are people from Rio) – in Portuguese of course.   This translated to “o jeitinho carioca” or “the carioca way” (which doesn’t exactly mean the same thing as “shit cariocas say”…but same idea.).

So what is “the carioca way,” you may be wondering?


For starters, Rio has often been described as a very welcoming city.  A 2003 study published in New Scientist magazine found that Rio was the friendliest city in the world.  So this is not just a stereotype…their friendliness has actually been scientifically proven!

In Rio, it is very common to strike up conversations with strangers.  As one Carioca put it, “a gente gosta de conversar com qualquar pessoa, sobre qualquer assunto…nao importa quem seja” (“we like to talk to anyone, about any topic…doesn’t matter who.”).

I’m sure cariocas would talk to a cactus if it could talk back!

Their friendliness also stems from the fact that many people go out of their way to help one another.  For instance, while many cariocas may not speak English, they will still struggle their way through hand gestures and the like to help out the non-Portuguese speaking tourists that approach them.  While traveling throughout Brazil, a friend of mine found that whenever he had a map out, strangers would instantly approach him and ask him if he needed any help.  In many large cities, approaching foreigners is a way for locals to try and pick up girls or get money.  But in Brazil, there is rarely any ulterior motive; people simply help to help.  While all of Brazil is known to breed incredibly friendly and helpful people, this kind of behavior is especially common in Rio.

Cariocas are a very friendly bunch, but when speaking to strangers or acquaintances, they often don’t mean everything that they say. As one carioca put it:

a gente realmente cumprimenta as pessoas na rua e fala ‘e ai cara! vamos marcar uma parada! eu te ligo!’ todo mundo fala isso mas a gente sabe que ninguem vai ligar e mar car (We always greet other people on the street and say things like “what’s up, dude? Let’s do something soon! I’ll call you!” Everyone says this, knowing that nobody will ever actually call or  set up a date.).

So if a carioca tells you something like, “Let’s meet at the beach later on,” take it with a grain of salt and make sure that you have a Plan B lined up…

Being a little late 

As The Insider’s Guide to Rio de Janiero, Brazil claims, it is also important to note that “…time is a flexible concept in Rio.  Unless you are talking business meetings, half an hour late means perfectly on time.”  This approach towards time is perfectly in line with the laid-back culture of Rio.


Another characteristic of cariocas is an inherent flirtatiousness; my carioca friend also informed me that guys will try to approach girls pretty much anywhere (the beach, the street etc).  This goes back to cariocas being inherently friendly…they just can’t help it!

A so-called aversion to “funk carioca”

Originally derived from Miami bass, this genre of music is also known as “favela funk,” because it became popular in the favelas (slums) of Rio in the 1980s. Many social analysts have found that the music, which generally covers topics such as poverty, human dignity, racial pride, sex, violence and social injustice, is an articulation of the social issues faced by the blacks and poor people of Rio.

While the music allows these people to have a voice, it is also generally very misogynistic and tends to valorize the crime of the favelas. Funk carioca is primarily played at bailes funks, which is the name for parties in the favelas, but it is also played at many nightclubs in Rio.  Although many cariocas like the music, many are also ashamed to admit that they like it, simply because it is a genre of music associated with the lower-classes of Rio.  Here is a mix of different funk carioca songs:

What’s your take on it? Hooked yet?


If you watched my “entrevista com um paulista” video, then you are already a bit familiar with this term.  There is no word in the English language for malandragem.  In short, this word defines people (most often men) who use charm and wit to try to deceive and manipulate others in order to get their way.  He is the guy that cheats on his girlfriend but convinces her that he is faithful…the clever trickster who finds little ways to get by the law…the lazy guy who prefers a bohemian lifestyle to one of hard work…

The malandro is an archetype of Rio, thought to have derived from the relaxed way that cariocas speak and the extolment of malandragem in samba lyrics.  Originally however, malandros are thought to have come from slave descendants, who faced such discrimination that they had no choice but to resort to malandragem.   Today, for the same reason, the term is most often associated with people from lower-classes and those who come from the slums of Rio.   The opposite of malandros are the honest and “boring” otarios, who are educated and privileged and therefore don’t have to practice “malandragem.”

An idealized “malandro”

A perfect example of this trait in action: one carioca in Paris once told me that he was committing insurance fraud for his broken car so that he would not have to pay to get it fixed.  He justified it by saying that it was only a few hundred euros…ha. Now obviously not all cariocas are like this, but this bad-boy attitude is relatively common in Rio.

Still perplexed about the “jeitinho carioca”? Then check out the “jeitinho carioca” video, the carioca version of “Shit Girls Say”:

And this is parte dois (part 2) of the series:

If you want to learn more about the “jeitinho carioca,” check out the unique sotaque (accent) and giria (slang)!


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