BRAZILIAN from Pele to Posh

Word meanings change. A few years ago if I mentioned a Brazilian to you – images of Carmen Miranda, Pele or Ronaldinho might have come to mind. Nowadays, it is quite different. It once meant: of, or relating to, or characteristic of, Brazil or the people of Brazil. (Brazil is a Portuguese word for a particular tree from which a red dye is extracted).

Now a Brazilian is short for a Brazilian wax, an extreme bikini wax. How extreme? The Fashion Icon website suggests that:

Your Brazilian waxer will know you at least as intimately as your gynaecologist.

They were first introduced to the outside world via New York by the J Sisters (seven sisters from Brazil—Jocely, Jonice, Joyce, Janea, Jussara, Juracy, and Judseia Padilha) in the 1990s (incidentally, with some clever branding).

The Chambers Dictionary in the UK gives credit to Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice from the Spice Girls) for popularising the expression in the UK. Beckham (also quoted as saying she had never read a book in her life) is a strong advocate:

I love Brazilians. They ought to be compulsory at 15, don’t you think.

So now, having a Brazilian is such a commonly used phrase that dictionaries have included it. I am not sure that the man version, the manzilian, has quite got there yet.