The secret names the Portuguese have for Brits abroad – and they’re not always flattering

PORTUGAL has long been a favorite of British holidaymakers – thanks to its glorious weather, beautiful beaches and cheap holidays.

However, those arriving from the UK have built a solid reputation with locals over the years.

Three years ago I really enjoyed being in Lisbon – and I found out what the locals call Brits


Three years ago I really enjoyed being in Lisbon – and I found out what the locals call BritsCredit: Lauren Clark
Your demeanor and dress can set you apart from the Portuguese


Your demeanor and dress can set you apart from the PortugueseCredit: Lauren Clark

Even though they are dear to our hearts, they still view some of the ways we dress and behave with a mixture of amusement and horror.

More than half a billion Brits travel to the sun-soaked European hotspot every year, while there are now just over 40,000 expats who call it home – myself included.

Shortly after moving to Lisbon, almost three years ago, I found out about the two secret – and rather unusual – nicknames the Portuguese have for Britons.

What do Portuguese actually call Brits abroad?

The first is “camone” – pronounced “cam-moan” – and is used for people whose first language is English.

So while there are many other northern European visitors to Portugal – such as Germans, Dutch and those from Scandinavian countries – this nickname is used only for us.

It derives from the words “come on” that locals often heard when Brits first flocked to the country for holiday a few decades ago.

While “camone” is said in a rather subdued way by the Portuguese, instead of “inglês” – which is easier for us to translate – it is usually meant endearingly and is generally not meant as an insult.

However, the other nicknames the locals have for us, while not rude either, are far from flattering.

It’s called “bife” – pronounced “bee-fee” – and is the Portuguese word for a meat steak, like you can order at one of their restaurants.

As you can imagine, the Brits got this nickname because they tend to sunbathe on our generally paler skin without using enough sunscreen – causing us to blush worryingly in the eyes of locals.

Still, like “Camone”, the nickname “Bife” is nothing to be taken for granted – and it’s just something to laugh about.

But while I try to put on sunscreen and speak Portuguese where I can, I quickly found that there are many ways we Brits can be seen from a mile away…

How do the Portuguese recognize a “camone” or a “bife”?

According to Portuguese native Maria, 30, there are a number of ways Brits dress that make them instantly recognizable as camones or bifes – and it’s not just the telltale sunburn.

“Men often wear football shirts and other sportswear when they go out,” she says.

“Women, on the other hand, prefer short dress skirts and generally wear more of them form and style their hair more ‘coiffed’ – in contrast to Portuguese women who prefer a more ‘natural’ look.”

Another Portuguese native, Gonçalo, also 30, agrees, noting, “The stereotype is that British women have dyed blonde hair.”

He adds, “Younger men often wear vests and older men tend to wear longer cargo shorts with pockets, along with socks and sandals.”

However, there is one important outfit, says Maria, that you wouldn’t see the Portuguese dead in: smart clothes.

Maria says: “Nobody wears it in Portugal, not even for Halloween or bachelorette parties.”

“I still remember seeing a man in a mankini once in the Algarve and I knew immediately that he was British.”

Other camone and bife traits can be seen in our behavior, particularly around what we consider a nice evening.

Maria continues: “British people are found drinking at times that are really unsociable for the Portuguese.”

“You also order really big glasses of beer, which heat up – while the locals prefer small bottles as they stay cool in the sun.”

She adds: “The cliché is that you also like to leave the beach way too early – Portuguese people head home at 8pm to get ready for the evening.”

“But by this point the Brits have already had dinner and are ready to go out.”

It’s worth noting that the Portuguese don’t mind the British’s lack of ability to speak their language – although they appreciate the effort – and are very happy to communicate in English.

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However, Gonçalo reveals that locals find our love of repeating two key words quite hilarious.

He says: “If we speak to you, there will be at least a thousand ‘excuses’ and ‘thanks’, where once would be fine.”

Be polite and don't blend in with the crowd and the locals will like you


Be polite and don’t blend in with the crowd and the locals will like youCredit: Lauren Clark

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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