An alcaguete is someone who turns in others. Its meaning is similar to that of snitch. With so many plea deals being made, of course, Brazilians have been using this word more than usual.
The origins of alcaguete are in the Spanish language: “alcahuete”. Though both words originally referred to a pimp, its true roots lie further away. As a matter of fact, alcaguete originates from the word al-qawwad. You guessed it, it’s Arabic.
The possible definitions in Portuguese are the following: a man who mediates encounters with prostitutes; a police spy; a person who turns in or betrays another; snitch.
And during times like the ones Brazil is currently experiencing, there are many alcaguetes. The word is used, of course, to refer to all those who struck plea deals. And Brazil is seeing a record number of those agreements, especially because of Operation Car Wash. Take Odebrecht, for example. Alone, the contractor giant generated more that 270 hours of testimonies in more than 1,000 videos. That’s a lot of snitching.
In exchange for lighter sentences and maybe even escaping jail, politicians and executives will swiftly alcaguetar their former accomplices.
You can, however, use it in lighter contexts. A brother or sister who tells their parents something wrong their siblings did is an alcaguete. Someone who tells the boss what their colleagues have been up to can also be called that.
There are, moreover, variations in the way Brazilians say it. You can lose the al and just say caguete, or even cagueta. And it even becomes a verb (with all the due conjugations): alcaguetar or caguetar.
Be mindful that calling someone an alcaguete is very serious. It’s not something you can joke about lightly. Only use the word if the seriousness of the situation requires it. On the other hand, if someone calls you an alcaguete, you have every right to be pretty mad.