Word of the Day: Speranza

Speranza (spe-rahn-zah), what a beautiful word. It means  “hope” and  it comes from  the Latin  spes, a noun of the fifth declension, one that kids in school never managed to remember. 

 

Before being “speranza,” it was speme in Italian and, although the former entered our vocabulary sometimes around the  13th century, the latter would still appear here and there  in the written words of our poets. 

 

Speranza, in Italian just like in English, can also be a name,  although it isn’t as popular as  it should be, given the beauty of its meaning and, in all fairness, of the way it sounds. 

 

Speranza appears in many a useful expression, some of them very popular and common in our glorious language: la speranza è l’ultima a morire, “hope is the last to die” (or “hope springs eternal,” you’d say more idiomatically) we say when we believe in something until there’s air to breathe, and also finchè c’è vita, c’è speranza, “where there’s life, there’s find hope.” But guess what, these expressions both come from Latin, and tell me they don’t sound regal and elegant in their original version: dum spiro, spero, wrote Cicero,  until I breath, I’ll hope. And, even more poetic, spes, ultima dea:  hope is the last goddess (so, the last to die).  

 

When the young, smart ones are determined and hardworking, we say they are  ragazzi di belle speranze, or with a bright future. 

 

But my favorite use of speranza is to define the color green: verde speranza. The Ancient Greeks tell us that when Pandora opened that fateful box and released all evils into the world, only one thing remained at its bottom: a green bird, hope. And that’s why Dante associated verde  with speranza in his Purgatory and  we, today, think of the most  beautiful and  precious of greens as the color of hope. 

1) Non è essere giù! Ricordati che finché c’è vita c’è speranza!

Don’t feel down. Remember: there’s always hope!

2) Lo so che  è difficile prendere un buon voto, ma in fondo la speranza è l’ultima a morire!

I know it’s hard to get good marks, but in the end hope springs eternal!

3) La speranza dà forza!

Hope makes you stronger!

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