Brazil or Brasil: What’s The Difference?

The correct way to write the name of a country should not cause so much doubt, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. That’s the case with Brazil, which can appear written with S or Z. So what’s the difference between Brazil and Brasil?

Brazil and Brasil are both correct ways of spelling the country’s name. It only depends on the language used. In English is with Z, while in Portuguese, the proper way is to write with S. However, even in Brazil, people used to spell Brazil with S or Z until the Orthographic Agreement of 1945.

As you can see, the difference is the language used when writing: in English, it’s with Z. In Portuguese, with S. And these aren’t the only languages in that Brazil is spelled differently. To understand all of this, read on.

Brazil or Brasil: Understanding What’s The Difference

For English speakers is hard to tell if you should write “Brazil” or “Brasil,” especially when you see the official jersey of the Brazilian team spelled with an “S.” It’s confusing. I know. But honestly, the difference is quite simple these days: in English, the correct way to write Brazil is with “Z.” In Portuguese, it’s written with “S.” However, it was not always like this.

From the year of the country’s discovery until 1945, here in Brazil, it was correct to write the country’s name with both the letter S and the letter Z. Actually, there was no right or wrong; it was a matter of personal preferences. People accepted both ways.

For example, in 1510 (10 years after Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil), the Portuguese dramatist Gil Vicente, in his text called “Auto da Fama,” wrote Brazil with S. But in official documents, it was common to see the country’s name spelled with Z. Even the word “Pau-Brasil,” a tree found abundantly in Brazilian territory (and the origin of the country’s name), could be written with S or Z. There was no consensus.

No one cared about it until 1911 when Portugal decided that “Brasil” with the S was more beautiful. Even after that, Brazil continued accepting both forms. However, in Brazil, “Brazil” only became “Brasil” in the Orthographic Agreement of 1945. But this rule is valid only for the Portuguese language. The French, for example, write “Brésil,” the Italians, “Brásile.” In English, it’s still “Brazil,” and it’s all right. Each country set the spelling that pleased them the most.

Writing Brazil With A “Z” Is OK

Brazil or Brasil: What's The Difference?

Even though writing Brazil with Z is correct in the English language, some may think it is disrespectful to write the country’s name differently than they do. And believe me: I already discussed with people from the US that said that I, a Brazilian born and bred, was wrong in saying that there’s no problem at all. But I assure you: there is no problem writing Brazil with Z. Brazilians don’t care about it.

In Brazil, in English classes in public and private schools, we learn from a young age that Brazil in English is with Z. In Portuguese, it takes an S instead. It’s an honest doubt. Nothing more. I believe that you’ll never find a Brazilian arrogant to the point of not wanting to write the country name with the letter Z if he is writing in English.

The perfect example of it is the website name. I created the blog and bought the domain with Z (what about braZil). The reason is simple, I’m writing in English for an English-speaker audience. Why in hell would I write my country name in a different language? It’s just a letter; there’s no reason to be proud to the point of not wanting to write the name of your country as the language requires. That wouldn’t be patriotism; it would just be a boring person.

How Brazil Is Spelled In Other Languages

You learned that the difference between Brasil and Brazil is merely the language used. Nothing more. That should not cause so many doubts. To exemplify how different countries write Brazil in their ways, check out this fabulous table with 18 different ways to write the country’s name. There are variations with S, with Z, and some others.

LanguageHow It’s Written
RussianБразилия (Braziliya)
IrishAh Bhrasaíl
Chinese巴西 (Bāxī)
Japaneseブラジル (Burajiru)

10 Funny Brazilian Expressions In English

1) “Nem a pau”

“Nem a pau” is the Portuguese equivalent of “no way” or “no freaking way”. We use that when we believe that something will not happen at all, that it is totally impossible. Example: “No freaking way it will happen” (“Nem a pau que isso irá acontecer”).

2) “Dar o cano”

“Dar o cano” is the Brazilian expression to stand someone up. When we’re talking about someone not keeping a promise or not showing up to a place they said they would. Example: “He stood me up” (“Ele deu o cano em mim”).

3) “Não faço ideia”

“Não faço ideia” in Portuguese means “I don’t have the slightest idea” or “I don’t have a clue.” This one is somewhat self-explanatory. We use this expression in the same situations as in English. Example: “I don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about” (“Eu não tenho ideia sobre o que ele está falando”).

4) “Morri de rir”

“Morri de rir” is a funny expression in Brazil equivalent to “I crack myself up” in English. We use this expression to emphasize having found something hilarious. Example: “I crack myself up with that joke!” (“Eu morri de rir com aquela piada!”).

5) “Relaxa”

“Relaxa” is an expression similar to “Take it easy” or “Chill” and is widely used in Brazil. Its use is self-explanatory. It’s a saying used to calm someone down about something. Example: “Take it easy! I have no doubt you made a good choice” (“Relaxa! Tenho certeza que você fez uma boa escolha”).

6) “Pelo amor de Deus”

The expression of the list that I use the most, “pelo amor de Deus” is the Brazilian version of “for God’s sake.” It’s used in the same situations as in English: to say that you really want something or to emphasize a sentence. “For God’s sake you have to promess me that you won’t go there” (“Pelo amor de Deus, você precisa me prometer que não irá lá”).

7) “Ele provou do próprio veneno”

“Ele provou do próprio veneno” is the Portuguese equivalent of “he tasted his own medicine”. The funny part is that the Brazilian version uses the word poison instead of medicine. However, the expression meaning is the same in English, used when someone gets back something terrible they did to someone else.

8) “Mão-de-vaca”

An expression that I have grown up listening to almost every day about my dad, “mão-de-vaca” in Brazil, means the same that “tight-fisted” when we want to talk about someone who is too mean or doesn’t like to spend money for anything. Example: “He’s so tight-fisted that he doesn’t want to buy a new shirt” (“Ele é tão mão-de-vaca que não quer comprar uma nova camisa”).

9) “Cabeça dura”

“Cabeça dura” is a common expression in my family as well, but referring to me, not my dad. It’s very similar to “headstrong.” That’s the popular name given to a very, very stubborn person (like I). Example: “I can’t believe he didn’t come to your birthday party. He’s so headstrong!” (Eu não acredito que ele não veio à sua festa de aniversário. Ele é tão cabeça dura!”).

10) “Procurando pelo em ovo”

“Procurando pelo em ovo” there’s no straight translation in English, but its meaning is similar to “barking up the wrong tree.” We often use this expression when we talk about someone looking for a problem where everything is fine. Example: “Everything’s fine, you don’t have to bark up the wrong tree” (“Está tudo bem, você não precisa ficar procurando pelo em ovo”).

Shoutout to for some of the expression ideas.

Related Questions

Why Does Brazil Spell Their Name Brasil? As a general rule, Brazil spells their name Brasil because that’s the proper way in Portuguese, their official language. Even in Brazil, the forms with Z or S were accepted in the past, but an Orthographic Agreement in 1945 defined “Brasil” as the correct.

Do Brazilians Say Brasil? Brazilians do say Brasil with “S” because that’s how it is written in Brazilian Portuguese, their official language. Despite most countries in South America having been colonized by Spain and speaking Spanish, Brazil was colonized by Portugal, and Portuguese is their idiom.

Why is Brazil spelled with an S instead of a Z? Brazil is spelled with “S” in Portuguese, the country’s official language. In English, the proper way to spell the country’s name is with Z. Even in Brazil both forms were accepted in the past, but it changed after an Orthographic Agreement in 1945.

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What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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