Are you learning Italian? Would you like to add some vocabulary belonging to the sphere of everyday life and not usually taught in class? Go on reading this post, you find some quirky and funny words 😉
For the May’s edition of the Dolcevitabloggers’ Linkup, Jasmine, Kristie and Kelly asked us to write about our 5 favourite Italian words. Again, I choose to kill two birds with one stone and I combine this entry with the one related to the Italian vocabulary I published on Instagram for “12 Weeks in Italy”. Being formerly a weekly challenge, the words I will list here will be seven and not five, but I wish the ladies will forgive this breach ;P Also, I have decided to stop pasting the Instagram entries directly, as the captions are too confusing to read due to the large amount of hashtags. So I will upload the pictures I shared on Instagram and copy the captions as plain text below.
I find the word “fantasmini” quirky, and even quite effective to indicate a pair of “peds” or “no-show socks”, as I was informed by other users they are called in English.
” Bugiardino” is the colloquial name for “foglietto illustrativo”, which is the information leaflet you find inside the packages of the medications. The funny thing is that bugiardino literally means “little liar” and that’s not reassuring at all! According to “Accademia della Crusca”, doctors started to name it this way, to underline the fact that, at the time, these leaflets were too focused on the beneficial effects of the medicines, without mentioning all their possible side effects. Nowadays I feel it’s quite the contrary…if you read those leaflets, you end up not taking the medicines at all because of the huge amount of listed scary side effects!
Have you ever bought Italian medicines and try to put back in the box the bugiardino? It’s an impossible task! They’re so huge you can hung them on a wall like a poster.
” Ammazzacaffè ” literally means “coffee-killer” and it’s the liqueur usually drunk after the coffee in order “to kill” ( or, to say it better, “dull”) its strong taste. Yes, Italians murder coffee!!
“Civetteria” literally means “the ability/tendency of being a owl” and it is translated in English as “coquetry” . Since the owl is said to be able to attract the preys pretending to be flirting with them, it’s used as a metaphor to indicate a coquette/vixen. Other derivative expressions are “fare la civetta” and “civettare”.
In Italian we use quite a few words which derive from animals and their behaviour, and I have to say I am quite frustrated by the fact that in English there seems no to be a difference between civetta and gufo, both translated as “owl” (tell me if I’m wrong). Other than being different animals, they are linked to different beliefs and mythologies in our country and from them derive the verbs “civettare”, as I said before, and “gufare”, which have two completely different meanings.
“Cagnara” refers to a gathering of barking dogs, not something you’d enjoy because of the noise! The term “cagnara” is used to indicate a dim, a commotion caused by people and it’s a quite a common word since in Italy we tend to be very loud!
While in elementary school, I remember our teacher shouting “Basta con questa cagnara!”, when we broke loose during the break. Quite a useful word, cagnara, when around Italian children!
“Rossetto” is lipstick in English. While in English the term refers to a stick which content is to be applied on the lips, the Italian word focuses on the colour of the product. The etymology of the word is indeed “quite red”, as, at first, the lipsticks were basically all red.
These are my Italian quirky words, I hope you enjoy learning them! I think it’s interesting the fact that many of these words sounds both quirky and cute, because of the use of –etto, –ino, –uccio, some of the Italian modifying suffixes that allow to indicate the “quality” of a certain something and even to create terms of endearnment.