Expression of the Day: Roba da matti

Thats crazy!” is probably one of the best translations you can get for our roba da matti (roh-bah dah maht-tee), but you can also use unbelievable!,” “thats unbelievable!” and, sometimes, even I cant believe it!. Literally, it means stuff for the loonies” and its quite usually uttered with an incredibly surprised expression on your face. 


It is used in a familiar context — that is, you wont usually see it written down in an official document — and specifically refers to something considered absurd, and usually in a negative way. 


Roba da matti means what youve just learned or watched or heard is so unbelievable it has to be the work of a crazy person. In Italy, we use it a lot. In recent times, youd probably hear it most often when we chat about the government, but lets avoid politics: this should remain our happy place, only dedicated to the Italian language. 


But, just to give you an idea, heres a sample of a typical conversation you may overhear at the  bar over coffee and newspaper, on every given morning these days: Hai sentito le ultime da Montecitorio?! Roba da matti!” (Have you heard the news from Montecitorio? Thats crazy stuff!). 


Thats enough of that, though. Lets go back to our happy place, shall we? 


Considering how seriously we take food, roba da matti can often appear in that context. For instance, let’s say your best friend uses cream in his carbonara, this may be your outraged answer...:“come sarebbe che metti la panna nella carbonara?! Roba da matti!” (What do you mean you use cream in carbonara? Unbelievable!).


Roba da matti is an ubiquitous expression because it can be used with so many nuances of meaning. It can show surprise, incredulity, but even disappointment, because stuff” fit for crazy people,” when you think about it, could be really anything. 


Roba da matti, ha rubato soldi dalla cassa del bar! 

It’s crazy. He stole money from the café ‘register

Lha abbandonato allaltare, roba da matti! 

She left him at the altar. Thats unbelievable.

Hai sentito cosa è successo? Roba da matti!  

Have you heard what happened? Thats crazy. 


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