Word of the Day

Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa*! There, that’s a scioglilingua.  Scioglilingua is a bit of pronunciation conundrum in itself, as it’s not that simple to pronounce, either: it comes from the  word sciogliere — …

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Finding “boh”’s etymology can be tricky, because it’s not really a word in itself: “boh” it’s more of a sound, a way to emphasize a thought and a lack of interest in what we are saying or listening to. Indeed, if we really …

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Non ci piove literally means “it doesn’t rain on it” but it hardly has anything to do with rainy days. In fact, non ci piove stands for the English “without a doubt” and, in spite of being one of the …

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Ecco, which comes from the Latin ecce,  is a very versatile adverb indeed: we use it on its own, to present you with something we promised, when we hand it over to you, very much the same way you would use here it is in English.  With nouns and adjectives, it introduces people, events and objects that were already mentioned: Ecco mio marito! (here’s my husband) or ecco il libro di cui ti ho parlato (here’s the book I told you about).   But ecco gives its best when it gets a bit of an attitude: one single ecco… said the right way, could easily stand for a 20 minute long reprimand about your mistakes: a shorter version of another amazing expression of Italy, the ubiquitous te l’avevo detto (I told you!).   Add appunto after it — and a  pause for …

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The thermometer reached unspeakable temperatures and Italy has been sweating hard. Watermelon sales sky rocketed: the ruby and green fruit is the ultimate Italian way to get rid of the heat. That, and air conditioning, of course. But, alas, il …

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We all know a guastafeste. Actually, we may even have been one, sometimes in our lives.   Guastafeste has a relatively straight forward etymology: it is formed by the verb guastare (to spoil, to ruin) and feste the plural of festa (party). So, literally a guastafeste is someone who breaks the mood at a party and, by extension, anyone who does or says something to spoil atmosphere or situations.  Guastafeste is someone who ruins your incredible plans for a weekend spent watching Netflix and eating peanut butter ice cream, by reminding you that your boss anticipated the deadline for that heinous work project to Monday morning, and you still have everything to prepare. Thinking about  it, your boss is a guastafeste, too, in this scenario: actually, he — or she — is the biggest of them all!  However, guastafeste is also someone that brings you back to reality when you dream too much: just like that time you decided to move to Paris …

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Macché (mahk-kai) is a  word you may not hear as often as sì and no, but when you do, rest assured that what speakers are talking about doesn’t make them happy one bit. It is formed by the union of …

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Seize the opportunity, that’s what prendere la palla al balzo (prain-dai-rai lah pahl-lah ahl bahl-tsoh) means. Taken literally, it’s a way more fanciful expression in Italian than it is in English: “to catch the ball while it bounces up.”  And, …

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How would you like to win a billion dollars? Magari! any Italian would certainly answer.  “Magari” (pronounced: mah-gah-ree) is a little popular word Italians use in a huge amount of occasions, but it’s not always easy to translate it literally. …

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Al fresco dining: you hear it and images of bohemian terraces, furnished with early 20th century country style decor come to mind. A topiary here, the sunset there, rustic, wholesome yet elegant cuisine in your plate. A Michelin starred bistrot …

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