Italia campione d’Europa! How couldn’t we mention such an awesome success for our soccer national team, especially when it gives us the opportunity to talk about an interesting word?
Campione (plural campioni, cahm-peeoh-nee) means “champion” or “winner” and who doesn’t want for their national squad to be that?
As you can see, our campioni looks and sounds a lot like the English champions, because they both have the same origin: they come from the Latin campus, or “battlefield,” which evolved into the Frankish kampio, noun used to denote a knight who would take part to a duel in the place of someone else or, sometimes, of a full army. Thanks to these “champions,” battles were avoided and reduced to a duel between two knights.
In time, the campione (feminine: campionessa) became simply someone who excelled at his or her activity, or that was the best representative of a group: un campione del tennis (a tennis champion), but also un campione degli scacchi (a chess champion).
Un campione della nostra causa (a champion of our cause) is someone who supports a specific activity or cause: the word is quite common in Italian in this context, too, just like it is in English.
Careful though, because campione in the Bella Lingua could also refer to a sample of something, as in mi hanno dato un campione omaggio dell’ultimo profumo di Gucci (“They gave me a free sample of Gucci’s last fragrance”), a meaning the word “champion” does not have in English!
- L’Italia è campione d’Europa!
- Italy is champion of Europe!
- Federica è stata campionessa nazionale di nuoto!
- Federica was a national swimming champion!
- Ci serviranno dei campioni di tessuto per scegliere le tende adatte.
- We’ll need some fabric samples to pick the right curtains.