Grammar / Learning / Vocab

[Vocab] Make Fun of (Someone)

I have seen so many translations for “make fun” that it drives me crazy.  Which one(s) should I memorize?  Which one best captures the meaning?  Looking at a thesaurus we see that “make fun of” has the following varied meanings:

burlesque, deride, heckle, kid, lampoon, make sport of, mock, parody, ridicule, satirize, tease

I’d also throw “annoy”, “taunt”, “roast”, and “spoof” in there as well.  The list could go on.  As you can already guess, looking for a single translation is already a lost cause, but it at least helps to know which is most popular.

According to the Brazilian website English Experts (do a google search for “site:www.englishexperts.com.br “make fun”‘), they suggest translating it as follows (in approximate order of importance):

  • ridicularizar
  • fazer piada
  • tirar sarro [poke fun at]
  • fazer gozação de
  • achar graça
  • escrachar (por alguém)
  • malhar (de alguém)
  • tirar onda [take wind out of someone’s sail], mangar [dupe]
  • rir de mim [laugh at me]
  • zuar [diss]
  • tirar uma da (minha) cara

I was quite surprised by the lack of  “zombar de (alguém)” (more commonly associated with sneer, mock).  Also lacking frequency was “caçoar” [tease], which was the first phrase I remember learning.  Along the lines of mocking, you might occasionally see chacotear and escarnecer, but this is getting out of hand.

My suggestion is this: To cover all real-life situations, try remembering (1) a formal translation, (2) an expression, (3) a “cool” way of saying it, and finally (4) a more literal translation in case nothing comes to mind.  My preferred translations being:

  1. (formal) ridicularizar
  2. (expression) pegar no pé (in the sense of torturing someone day in, day out)
  3. (cool way) tirar sarro/zuar
  4. (literal) fazer gozação de

Example illustrating proper usage of “pegar no pé”:

Ela está sempre pegando no meu pé, não para de me zuar.

If you’re Brazilian and you disagree with my short-list, leave me a comment!

6 thoughts on “[Vocab] Make Fun of (Someone)

  1. Acho que a expressão “zombar” não chega a ser tão formal assim. Eu ficaria apenas com o “ridicularizar” como formal.

    Já “pegar no pé” tem mais um sentido de “atormentar/irritar” continuamente alguém. Sempre a mesma pessoa. Por exemplo, “A professora pegou no meu pé na aula.” significa que a professora pode ter cobrado continuamente o meu desempenho durante a aula. Ou então “Ela está sempre pegando no meu pé, não para de me zuar.” significa que alguma mulher está continuamente (over and over again) “tirando uma da minha cara”, continuamente me “zuando”.

    “Zuando” é uma palavra que eu acrescentaria em “cool way”, ou “gíria” (slang).

    Espero ter ajudado. 🙂

  2. I’ve found your blog today and I really liked it, congrats erikspen!
    I’ve been learning English for over a year, I know how hard is to learn another language and also to find someone interested in learning english to practice with.
    I agree with Claudio Freitas about “pegar no pé”
    In my opinion “Pegar no pé” would be the same as “My boss has been always breathing down my neck” or “My boss is on my case” (less strong I guess)
    Probably there will be other expressions or equivalency that I don’t know in English hehe
    Até!

  3. Oi, tudo bom? Sou de Recife. Aqui “tirar onda” é o mais usado no sentido de “make fun of”
    Acho que é sempre bom ficar ligado nos regionalismos ( expressões locais). 😉

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