Indovina (een-doh-vee-nah) comes from the word indovinare, which means to guess. This little verb of ours is worthy of some more discussion. It comes from the vulgar Latin indivinare and, through it, from the Latin divinare, to foretell.
So, indovinare may mean only to guess, but its roots are far more magical, imbued as they are in a world of premonition, future telling and divine suggestions.
Indovina, our word of the day, is nothing more than the second person singular Imperative of the verb indovinare — and with this, I promise, the grammar lesson is over. The fact is that indovina, often followed by an exclamation or question mark, is probably more common that its — already very popular — mother verb. We use is every time we want to bring attention on something we discovered, that we find interesting, shocking or surprising, just like in Indovina chi ho incontrato questa mattina! (Guess whom I met this morning), or Indovina: ho vinto una vacanza! (Guess what! I’ve won a holiday!).
Our little example told you already how, most often than not, indovina is translated in English: with guess who, or guess what, guess how and its use is very much the same.
Kids may also be familiar with the indovina indovinello expression, often used to introduce a riddle: I didn’t think it was still a thing, but a quick online search proved me wrong straight away.
This lead us to another couple of interesting word connected to indovina and indovinare: indovinello, as we said, means “riddle,” while indovina (written and pronounced just like our imperative) is a fortune teller: non posso crederci, è andato da un’indovina a farsi leggere le carte! (I can’t believe it! He went to a fortune teller for a tarot reading). Mind, though, that this noun also has a masculine and a plural: so, we’ll also have an indovino (a male fortune teller) and indovine and indovini!
Indovina chi viene a cena domani?
Guess who’s coming to dinner tomorrow?
Indovina questo e vincerai il primo premio
Guess it right and you’ll win the first prize.
Indovina quanto l’ho pagato!
Guess how much I paid it!