Foreign words that may cause confusion

Well, I live in Brazil. If you ever come here (please dont come for the world cup)… do NOT stay with your family on a Motel. Although they are a pretty cheap option in the states, you will not find a family-friendly environment on brazilian motels. You can actually get arrested, for a good reason - they are hotels where you just go to have sex. Most of them have round beds, mirror on the ceiling, jacuzzis and stuff like that. Any other foreigner care to add something to this list?

There are many false cognates that can cause a lot of confusion.

embarazada - pregnant; Spanish
intoxicado - nauseated; Spanish
mist - crap; German
bodybag - backpack; German

Even dialects of languages have words with different meanings. For example, Oriental is a word often used for East Asian in British English but nowadays rarely used in the US. A humorous one is gosse, which means testicle in Quebec French and child in France.

A similar example in English is fanny. In the United States and Canada, it’s slang for buttocks - and it’s a very mild slang; the kind of word you could use around young children. In Britain, fanny is slang for vagina and I believe it’s considered a much stronger word there also.

Another example is knocked up. In England, it means to wake somebody up. In America, it means to get pregnant.

Well, speaking of false cognates, “Gift”'is the classic example between English and German. It means “poison” or “venom” in German.

Brazilian and Portugal’s Portuguese -

Durex in Brazil is Scotch tape. In portugal it is a word for Condoms (although you can also get durex condoms here).

In Portugal, “O Putinho Levou uma pica ao rabo com um cacetinho na mão” means The little boy had a vaccine applied to his buttocks while holding a piece of bread. In Brazil it means that the Little male prostitute took part on anal sex while holding on a penis.

I’ve lived in England. A friend there was always going to knock up his girlfriend in the evening, i.e., drop in for a visit (by knocking on her door to see if she was home).

A rubber in GB is an eraser. In the US, it’s a condom.

A préservatif in French is also a condom, not a food additive. The Russian word is preservativ as well.

Never say Bleah! to a Russian to express distaste of something, the way Charlie Brown and Snoopy do. Blya in Russian is like saying “Fuck!” It can be inserted anywhere in a sentence: "So the cops blya stopped my car blya and fined me blya 300 bucks blya, all of which blya went straight into their pockets blya!"

The most common one is probably the Spanish word negro, and its connotation in English.

The term “A-level” in Asia also refers to a woman who is willing to engage in anal sex, while it means Advanced Level tests in the UK, which is a bit like AP tests in the US.

In Russian, it’s negr, and it simply means a black man.

Minyet in Russian is a blowjob, not the name of a ballroom dance. From Googling, I see the same word is pipe in French!

Nope, intoxicado means poisoned, so the same thing as in English. RAE link.

intoxicate (verb)
1 to affect with something toxic; poison
2 to affect somebody’s mind in a morally damaging way
3 to provide manipulated opinion in order to create opinions which favor one’s goals

intoxicado is simply the participle, it doesn’t get its own entry
Someone mentioned in a similar thread the Spanish nick Kike or Quique, short for Enrique: note the caps, the pronunciation is different from the English slur but it still can be shocking. To similar words which are very different are kiki (a tuft of hair atop a person’s head that insists on standing up, in a way reminiscent of a cockerel’s comb) and quiqui (a quickie; pronounced exactly as kiki).

@Nava, I see I mislearnt the original meaning, I’ve only used the slang meaning, which is akin to “being stoned”. Here are some other ones:

Muschi (sounds like mushy) - female genitals; German
constipado - a cold; Spanish
molestar - to disturb; Spanish (you hear it in hotels a lot)

Or in Clash songs.

I assume embarazada must actually mean “embarrassed”, also used to mean “pregnant”, a vestige of the days when it would be grossly embarrassing for any female to acknowledge being pregnant, or to appear in public while pregnant. (Thus, “embarrassed” as a euphemism for “pregnant”.) Very Victorian. Back in the day, “legs” were considered so improper that people put long tablecloths on their tables and their pianos to hide their legs.

Fast forward to 2014, and we have a nearby thread in IMHO in which people are discussing the propriety of public exposure of boobies !

A similar false friend in German:

prägnant - concise

“Actually” is most definitely not the word I’d choose: embarazada actually means the same as preñada, that is, pregnant. Now, do embarazada and embarrased have a common root? Yes, but again I don’t think the reasoning goes the way you think.

Embarazo means
1.- obstacle
2.- state of a pregnant female
3.- clumsiness, lack of decisiveness in manners of action

RAE doesn’t give the roots, but a pregnant female carries an obstacle around and someone who is embarrased has it in his mind. This notion that it would be embarrasing to admit you’re pregnant is so out of left field it’s in another solar system; you don’t seem to realize how much a woman or female animal’s value depended on pregnancy.

Grizzwife tells the story that, while running to catch a train in Italy, she stopped by a vendor to purchase an Orangina as she was thirsty. She paid the attendant and was handed a serviette on which rested a ball of something which appeared to be deep-fried. She held it up “Orangina?”, she asked. The attendant replied “Si! Si! Orangina!” Not having time to discuss it, she ran to board her train. She and her friends had a good head-scratch (Americans, all of them) over this.
Not until years later did she learn that there’s a fried rice-ball dish in Italy called “arancina”, as it somewhat resembles an orange.

“Banged up abroad” was on NG channel … of course, they meant “jailed in some other country” , but “Banged up” here means ‘made pregnant’. I saw the 2nd series came out entitled “Locked up abroad”. …

A state here tried to cancel the vehicle “license plate” aka “number plate” aka “registration plate” because it was "KIKI " . A girls name ? Well in the Philippines its slang for vagina and someone complained. They withdrew their demand to cancel …

Plus one of the meanings in English is actually “to hamper the movement of.” In fact, that’s a far earlier meaning (1680s) than making someone feel awkward, which doesn’t show up until 1828. Cite.

I understand that this was a play on words in the famous Magritte painting; not only is it not a pipe, it’s also not a BJ. (At least, I think I heard that somewhere. Can’t find a cite now.)