Word of the Day

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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In bocca la lupo is an expression that divides Italy in a half. It is used by everyone, everywhere and at any time, yet some believe that saying it brings misfortune on the person to whom we say it, unless …

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We are all familiar with the verb andare, which is nothing more than to go. Just like its English cousin, andare likes to get its way in expressions that have nothing to do with the literal action of moving from …

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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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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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Let’s face reality: true or not, Italians have a name for being great lovers and incredible charmers. Call it the Rudy Valentino effect, blame it on Casanova or even on Mark Antony, it doesn’t matter.   The world believes it. And it is nothing to complain about.   Some may point out our language is one of the reasons we got this reputation: and how could you blame them? It’s not called the language of love for nothing. Among the many colorful expressions concocted throughout the centuries to talk about and initiate love, there is one that is pretty common without being too naughty: fare il filo.  Teens and elderly, men and women, professors and sailors, all use the expression fare il filo: its register has no gender, age nor profession, it fits all sizes and belongs to all  regions. It means to be romantically interested in someone, or even just feeling attracted to them and pursuing them with some tenacity. Literally,  it translates with “making …

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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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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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Togliersi qualche sfizio, (satisfy a quirky need) or even mangiare qualcosa di sfizioso (eating something tasty and indulgent) are popular expression indeed in the Italian language.  Sfizio is one of those words we use continuously, yet without really knowing anything …

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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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