As a noun, [o] elétrico (eléctrico before the spelling reform of 1990) means tram/streetcar/trolley, which are usual sights on the streets of Porto and Lisbon, Portugal’s two largest cities.
As an adjective, it means “electric”, linked or associated with electricity. This noun is actually a shortening of [o] carro elé[c]trico, ‘electric car’, an obvious reference to their power source.
Back in the day (late 19th-early 20th century), a public horse-drawn tram (or horsecar) was known as [o] [carro] americano, ‘[the] American [car]’, since the first were built in the United States and became associated with the country.
Related words/useful sentences:
- [a] paragem de elé[c]trico: Tram stop
- [Os] carris: rails (sing. [o] carril; “Carris” is also the name of the company in charge of bus and tram public transportation in Lisbon, as you can see in the picture above)
- [a] Baixa: Downtown (of a city), also “low” (adj. sing. fem.) and “casualty” (fig.)
- Um Elé[c]trico Chamado Desejo: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams play, 1947)
- Este elé[c]trico vai para a Baixa? Is this tram headed downtown?
- Os elé[c]tricos andam/movem-se sobre carris. Trams move on rails.
- Onde [é que] posso apanhar um elé[c]trico? Where can I catch a tram/streetcar?
- Queremos um bilhete familiar para o Chiado, por favor/se faz favor. We want/would like a family ticket to Chiado, [if you] please.