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D is for devious virgins

by Bernard O'Shea

In English, many of the D words seem to be tinged with a thrilling emotional or sensational intensity. Things can be dangerous, daunting, dreadful, distressing, devastating, disgusting, diabolical, dire, dingy, deplorable, disastrous, deadly.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The D words also have elements of desire. Things can delectable, delicious, delightful, deluxe. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. You can go out on a hot date, dance the night away, have a dalliance with a dame or dandy or maybe a dominatrix if you dare.

Know anyone whose name begins with D? Maybe you’d better be careful!

Many D people seem to be daredevils who lust for power or to conquer. There’s el diablo, the devil himself. Demagogues and nasty dictators. Count Dracula. There are the deities, including Diana, goddess of the hunt.  Diomedes was one of the greatest Greek warriors and Daedalus was the first man to fly.  David slew Goliath; Sir Francis Drake slew many Spanish sailors. Donald Duck was considered whacky, grumpy and tempestuous, then along came Donald Trump! There are drama queens. Dentists are terrifying to some people. Footballer Diego Maradona’s most notorious goal involved the hand of God.

But let’s not forget the wonderful D people who have brought joy to the world, including deejays, dancers, drag queens, divas, Walt Disney, Charles Dickens, David Bowie, Diana Ross, the Divinyls, Debbie Harry, Dolly Parton, Doris Day, Roald Dahl, Dick Van Dyke, Antonin Dvorak, Daniel Boone, Duran Duran, the Doors, Derek and the Dominos, Destiny’s Child, Dire Straits, Daft Punk and Iva Davies of Icehouse who was spellbound by Miss Divine. And let’s not forget man’s best friend, dog. Give them their dues.

Quirky D words in My Five Romance languages

Those candles may not be as glowing as you might think.


It seems the D words are more laidback in My Five Romances. My favourite one comes from …


uma donzela-de-candeiro. Its old-fashioned meaning is a table or bench on which a night light is placed. This isn’t why it tickled my fancy, though. What I found amusing is that in Brazilian usage it has come to mean a woman who pretends to be a virgin. This must have been from the old days before electric lights and when Catholic and other religious ideology decreed that women had to aspire to be Virgin Marys until their wedding day (no such restrictions for the males). Was the biblical father of Jesus the Virgin Joseph? Maybe he was one of those macho young men who brag about being experienced lovers but in fact are still virgins, um palito ainda na caixaa matchstick still in the box (I made up that expression.)

Donzela means maiden or damsel, and uma donzela grows up to be uma dona, a lady or mistress (as in the owner of an establishment or person in charge). When you want to be formal and polite when addressing a woman on first-name terms, you might call her Dona Maria rather than Maria.


dopotutto. This great-sounding word means after all, ultimately, though or anyway, when there is a sense of finality or conclusion. For example: E bello sentirsi apprezzati, dopotutto –  it’s nice to be appreciated anyway.


An arrow with a love heart in the middle


dragoste. Well, you can’t deny you learn all the crucial words here at My Five Romances. Dragoste means love or romance and thus a face dragoste means to make love. The related adjective is drăgăstos/drăgăstoasă, meaning loving, affectionate, amorous. A sample sentence from one of my dictionaries: Eram tinei și liberi, îndrăgostiți de dragostewe were young and (care)free, in love with love.


despreocuparse means to stop worrying, or to be carefee or not bother about. I like how Spanish has one word for this, whereas English uses three, although the modern English equivalent would be to chill or lighten up. For example, Debería tratar de despreocuparse means You should try to lighten up.


disjoncter means to trip, fuse, short-circuit, as in the electrical sense, but it has been adapted to great effect into modern argot (slang) to mean to trip out, to go off one’s head, lose one’s head, to crack up, to lose it (mentally), to go off at a tangent. A sample sentence: C’est pas le moment de disjoncterNow’s not the time to crack up/lose it.

We have all ‘disjoncted’ at some stages in our lives, methinks, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. Next morning people tend to blame it on the D words drink and drugs. M5R

Expand your vocabulary the fun way. See also

E is for ecstasy 
The C words can be cute 

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ladyofthecakes 27/11/2013 - 7:21 pm

Donzela… lol… I was discussing this word with my Portuguese teacher last week! But she said nothing about the faux virgin aspect… maybe this really is just a Brazilian thing (she’s from Lisboa).

Bernard O'Shea 28/11/2013 - 12:19 pm

Hi, what a coincidence…. I’m glad because sometimes I think the words I choose are too obscure to be of any use … there are so many expressions that are unique to Brazilian Portuguese… the European Portuguese wouldn’t understand most of them… I think Brazilian Portuguese has wandered around unleashed picking up all sorts of influences whereas the continental language has been more restrained.


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