Cioè (tcho-eh) is one of Italy’s most common intercalari, those words we like to throw here and there while we talk, but hey! It has a real meaning, too.
Cioè is the contraction of two words, ciò, this/that, and è, “is,” the third person singular of the verb to be. Its meaning corresponds to the English “that is,” “that is to say,” or “namely,” as in the sentence il progetto deve essere consegnato il 26 di Novembre, cioè tra una settimana (“the project’s deadline is on the 26th of November, that is to say, in one week”).
It can be used also to clarify a concept or to correct yourself while you speak, as in ho comprato un regalo per Nicola…no, cioè per Irene (“I got a present for Nicola, no…sorry, I mean, Irene”) or to express doubt, uncertainty and a certain level of … shame, as in no professore, ho studiato… cioè…forse non quanto avrei dovuto (“no, professor… I did study… I mean… maybe not as much as I should have”).
Cioè is also a popular filler word, a term used to suspend your speech while you gather your thoughts to continue, a bit like “you know” or “ I mean” in English: sì, cioè, non è facile (“yes, you know, it’s not simple”). It is also used often just as an intercalari, as “like” in English.
One curiosity: in Italy, Cioè is also the title of a popular teen girls magazine, a bit like Seventeen in the US!
Cioè, non l’ho mica fatto apposta!
I mean, I didn’t do it on purpose.
Sono nato il 24 Dicembre, cioè la Vigilia di Natale!
I was born on the 24th of December, that is, on Christmas Eve!
Cioè, è piuttosto facile da fare se ci pensi, quella torta.
That cake, like, it’s pretty easy to make when you think about it.