[pɐ.gˈaɾ mi.ku] Pagar mico is literally translated as “pay for the tamarin,” and this expression means to endure public humiliation. The phrase comes from a traditional children’s game in Brazil
The Tamarin Game
Back in the 1950s, there was a popular card game in Brazil called “Jogo do mico” – the Tamarin Game. Each card in the deck (a total of 55) featured an animal, and almost every animal had its match. The only exception was the Tamarin – the equivalent of a traditional deck’s Joker.
The game was played in a similar fashion as Go Fish, and as players managed to pair up two matching animals, they got rid of their cards. However, the Tamarin had no match, and whoever got it at the end would eventually lose the game – and “pay for the tamarin.”
Over time, this expression became synonymous to being ridiculed in public.
Be careful, though, not to mistake this expression with pagar o pato, or “pay for the duck.” They have very different meanings!