Word of the Day: Mozzafiato

Well, if there is a word Italy feels definitely comfortable with, it must be mozzafiato. Compound of the verb mozzare (to cut) and fiato (breath), it is the equivalent of the English “breathtaking.” Indeed, it delivers the very same image of surprise, wander and mild, yet pleasurable, discomfort. 


Mozzafiato can  be used literally and in a more hyperbolic way: when you run as fast as  an antelope to catch that train, you’ve fatto una corsa mozzafiato, you’ve had a run that left you breathless (and possibly in need of a seat and a bottle of water, of course). If you’re in Florence, and take the afternoon to visit the Giardini di Boboli, you’re going to be rewarded with a vista mozzafiato, a breathtaking view, over the city. 


Why is Italy so comfortable with the expression, you say? Well, because it must be one of the  most exploited adjectives out there to associate with the country. Think about it: we use it for its art, but also for its natural beauties. And let’s be honest, “mozzafiato” is one of the  first words coming to mind  when  thinking of an Easter Sunday’s food spread at our grandmother’s place, even if just to describe the placid feeling of fullness and content spreading upon us once it’s all over: sitting on that couch, waiting for caffé, so full da avere il fiato mozzo, to be breathless. 


And our splendid Monica Bellucci and Sofia Loren, aren’t they bellezze mozzafiato, breathtaking beauties? 


So, this is why “mozzafiato” is the quintessential Italian adjective: it just encapsulate what the country in its entirety is!

Hai mai visto le Dolomiti? Sono  uno spettacolo mozzafiato!

Have you ever been  to the Dolomites? They’re breathtaking!

Recentemente ho letto giallo mozzafiato. Te lo presterò!

That’s s nail-biting thriller I’ve read! I’ll lend it to you. 

Monica Bellucci, che diva! È una bellezza mozzafiato.

Monica bellucci, what a diva, and what a breathtaking beauty she is!

Receive More Stories Like This In Your Inbox



Word of the Day: Assaggiare

Assaggiare (ah-ss-ah-djah-rai) is one delicious verb: it means to taste, or try out, food. You may be familiar with expressions like fammi assaggiare...

Word of the Day: Scusa

Scusa ( sk-oo-sah), is just as ubiquitous in the Italian language as its translation, “ sorry , ” is in English, and it is used in the exact same way...

Word of the Day: Tormentone

In Italy, there isn’t a word as typical of Summer as tormentone (tohr-mehn-toh-nai). Our dictionaries say the word, which comes from the verb...

Word of the day: Boh

This week ’ s word is...not a word. Or at least it isn ’ t in the strictest of senses. The interjection boh (pronounced just as it is written, “ boh...

Word of the Day: Canicola

The thermometer reached unspeakable temperatures and Italy has been sweating hard. Watermelon sales sky rocketed: the ruby and green fruit is the...

Weekly in Italian

Recent Issues