I'm getting a hard time to find an appropriate word on English with similar meaning to the portuguese word "machismo".

In portuguese this word means a conservative pro-male attitude, like an attitude that reinforces patriarchy and male dominance.

Example: a man that sees woman as inferior to man and should only be an house keeper and don't get a job. Or a man that uses and objectifies women.

Now every translation I've seen uses either chauvinism or sexism for this. I don't see neither as appropriate because chauvinism is more related with fanatic nationalism and sexism AFAIU can be from both sexes.

Can anyone think of a better way to express this idea of male dominant attitude?

  • I think misogynist would be the word that is most representative of this attitude. But it's too scholar. We also have "misógeno" word in portuguese that translates misogynist and which has a more scholarly feeling. Patriarchal is also adequate, but it enforces the idea of a conservative father-like attitude and we also have the word "patriarcal" to translate it. And machismo is more general, like including sexual male attitudes. "Male sexism" exists ? would it be adequate ? Jun 29, 2021 at 17:29
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    When I asked I didn't know that machismo existed in english as a loanword. I guess the correct answer would be using this exact word then. Thanks to all for your explanations. If someone wants to create an answer saying that machismo also exists in english I'll be glad to accept it. Jun 29, 2021 at 18:43
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    I don't think you'll find a word that fits, as you have already rejected the best words English has -- "male chauvinist" and "misogynist". Machismo in English doesn't have the anti-female component you're looking for. Jun 30, 2021 at 13:35

3 Answers 3


As pointed in the comments, "machismo" is a word in English, possibly a loanword from Spanish.

However it is important to note that even if the words are loanwords or related words, they don't necessarily carry the same connotations in different languages including formality / informality and use in daily vernacular or academic contexts. For example, the word "misogyny" and variations is far more prevalent in English for political discussion due to carrying the connotation of male discrimination and superiority towards women in a stronger way than "machismo"

If you compare the definitions of machismo and misogyny from the Cambridge Dictionary with the definitions of Michaelis for machismo and misoginia (because Aurélio is behind a paywall...)


male behavior that is strong and forceful, and shows very traditional ideas about how men and women should behave

strong pride in behaving in a way that is thought to be typically male, esp. by showing strength and power


feelings of hating women, or the belief that men are much better than women


1 Qualidade, comportamento ou modos de macho (homem); macheza, machidão. 2 COLOQ Orgulho masculino em excesso; virilidade agressiva. 3 Ideologia da supremacia do macho que nega a igualdade de direitos para homens e mulheres.


MED, PSICOL Antipatia ou aversão mórbida às mulheres.

You'll see that the Portuguese usage of machismo carries the meanings of both machismo and misogyny as used in English, while the Portuguese use of misoginia is more of a technical jargon than daily vernacular.

So, I don't think that using "machismo" as a 1-to-1 translation for the Portuguese term is adequate, especially if you're discussing what the English-speaking identify as misogyny. Context matters.

N.B. the choice of misoginia instead of misógino for the definitions was purely because the Portuguese dictionary defines misógino as who has misoginia

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    Thank you for pointing this out. I think the actual definition of the English word machismo has been lost in the heat of discussion. Jun 30, 2021 at 13:39
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    Very good answer. Thanks. Jun 30, 2021 at 14:38

How about machismo? It's already up there in the question itself.

A strong or exaggerated sense of traditional masculinity placing great value on physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness.

[American Heritage Dictionary]

On a side note, dictionaries trace the origins of this word to the Spanish language, not the Portuguese.

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    Machismo is an English word also? In the question I mentioned machismo as the portuguese word I'm trying to translate. Lol. It already translated itself :D Jun 29, 2021 at 4:39
  • @Nelson Teixeira Yes, it is. :)
    – user405662
    Jun 29, 2021 at 5:05

While the word machismo connotes "manly virtues" (hat tip to comment from @Stuart F), it feels a bit dated (cue Village People, Macho man).

A contemporary portrayal of this attitude may be found in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The Wikipedia entry says

The novel explores themes of subjugated women in a patriarchal society and the various means by which they resist and attempt to gain individuality and independence.

I would suggest patriarchal as a broadly understood term to describe a male-dominated, male-centric society.

  • In the subculture of the English-speaking churches, there is a sharp divide between complementarianism and egalitarianism. As the words suggest, women's roles are either complimenting male roles or equal to male roles. The clearest outworking is that the complementarian church would never ordain a woman as pastor, while an egalitarian would. This is not to say that complementarian = patriarchal. Patriarchy is an extreme on the complementarian spectrum.
    – rajah9
    Jun 30, 2021 at 11:48
  • For further insight into the male superiority in the church, please see Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. The John Wayne mentality will be well understood for an individual or group. Cowboy diplomacy will be understood in the context of the stance of a government.
    – rajah9
    Jun 30, 2021 at 11:58

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