Of course, France owns “buffet” and “hors d’oeuvres” and “café.” And no one’s been able to come up with a better term for three people getting it on than “ménage à trios.” Food and sex are certainly representative of France.
The spanish own “guerrilla” thanks to their dense history of wars.
The Japanese own “sushi” and “futon,” for obvious reasons.
Germans got “gesundheit” and “sex shop.” (Health and sex? Sure, makes sense.)
The British own “king” and “queen” sized beds.
Greeks got “anarchy.”
So what can America claim? I went on a cultural hunt in Brazil and elsewhere to figure out how we’ve made our mark on the world. I’m happy to report that we are the proud owners of “pretty boy.” Yes, during a Brazilian novella, a young character was accusing someone of thinking he was a – and yes the phrase was muttered in English – “pretty boy.” We also own “jeans.” Shopping also originates in the U.S. – though here in Brazil it has raised to such a high importance that it is actually a noun. As in “Let’s go to Shopping Iguatemi.” What does that say about us Americans? I’m thinking cowboys and consumers. (We also own “taxi.”)
So what about Brazil? Nothing so far. However, with the spotlight that will be shone on the country, I guarantee one Brazilian term will rise to the top. “Jeito” (or “jeitinho”) – the ability to get in or out of something despite a law, a regulation, a contract, physics or gravity. And it will definitely be representative of the culture of Brazil.