Looking at porbida, one may think it's from por vida; the Wiktionary entry assumes the same thing. I couldn't find a discussion that would suggest why porbida is used similar to the English expression for crying out loud.

Is there an old Spanish word or idiom similar to porbida or por vida, that could be the origin of this Philippine word?

2 Answers 2


Note that you are asking for the etymology of a Cebuano word, that would render this question off-topic in this site, so I can only hint a possible origin. The expression por vida was already used in the 16th century in the Spanish language. It was as a way of speaking used to persuade or force the concession of what is intended.


Por vida tuya que hagas esto.

It was also used as an assertion and as an oath (swear something on someone's life):

Daban los Jones tanto crédito, y autoridad à la berza, que juraban por vida de ella, como si fuera algun Dios.

You could also use por vida mía to swear on your own's life or express your determination to do something or make someone do something:

Por vida mia, que te disculpes agora.

This last sentence, written in 1642, can easily be translated as something like you'd better apologise now, goddammit, making the expression por vida mía a way of expressing anger, much like the Cebuano word porbida, which is used "to express anger, irritation, disappointment, annoyance, contempt, etc.". According to the Wikipedia, the language was heavily influenced by the Spanish language during the period of colonialism from 1565 to 1898. So it is quite plausible that the Cebuano expression porbida comes from the Spanish language given the similarities.


According to Diccionario Ingles-Español-Tagalog, Sofronio G. Calderón (1915), the word has the same meaning as the temptingly similar Spanish phrase "por vida mía":

Alife, adv. [aláif]
Por vida mia.
Porbida (sumpâ).

The following volume affirms this is indeed its origin:

Muchas de las exclamaciones que se usan en la vida diaria de los tagalos y los cebuanos proceden del espanol, como, por ejemplo: ... porbida! (esp. "por vida de"), exclamación de disgusto;

Note also the archaic word porvida (same meaning) in Spanish.

  • 1
    Again, not sure why I'm being downvoted for this... Looks like someone is going through my posts and downvoting one obscure thing a day...
    – jacobo
    Sep 30, 2019 at 6:05

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