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5 Italian Sayings You Should Add to Your Daily Conversations
Discover some of the colorful words Italians use to express themselves
By Francesca Di Meglio
Everything sounds better in Italian. Among the romance languages, its words, which end in vowels, roll off the tongue and make your words automatically more poetic. It's no wonder that Italian men come off as sounding like cassanovas, and the women are often referred to as the sexiest in the world.
But the language provides more than that. It is not just the sounds of the words; it is what is actually being said. Italian is a colorful language, and the people have a way of putting things that can get your point across and make a statement in a manner you don't get in another language.
So, I have decided to list some of my favorite Italian sayings and describing what they mean and why I love them. Without further ado, here they are:
1. In bocc' al lupo
Literally translated, this means "in the mouth of the wolf." But it's a way of saying "good luck." Typically, you say this to someone trying to win a competition, pass an exam, or find a job. The person receiving the well wishes must respond, "Crepi," or "Crepi il lupo," which means "crack the wolf." You have to admit this is a lot more interesting than a simple good luck or even buona fortuna, no? The big bad wolf has got nothing on Italians.
2. In culo alla balena
This one is a bit cruder than the wolf's mouth but is a way of wishing someone luck all the same. It means "in the rear end of the whale." The receiver then says, "Speriamo che non caghi," which means, "We hope he doesn't poop." It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? And what a way to encourage someone! I rarely resort to an exclamation point mid story, which is considered gauche by some authors, but it warrants it here.
3. Tutto fumo e niente arrosto
I can't help but think of my beloved Nonna Francesca whenever I hear this turn of words, which means "All smoke and nothing roasted." You say this when someone has a lot to say but never takes action or repeatedly fails in action.
4. Meno male
To be honest, I say this about a million times a day, especially since I have had a child. Literally translated, it means "less bad." But people use this expression in lieu of "Thank God" or "It better be this way." For example, when my son finally finds his Batman figure, so we can leave the house and be only a little late for school, I say, "Meno male."
5. Buon animo
Italians love their dead people. They honor them and keep up a relationship after they depart for Heaven (or wherever). They never say a bad word about a dead person no matter what the relationship was like when they were alive. Even the language provides a certain respect for those who have passed. After you mention a dead person's name (every single time), you follow it up with, "Buon animo," which means "good soul." Wouldn't it be lovely for your eternal legacy to have you be a good soul?
There are so many more sayings that the language – not to mention its dialects – provide that I regularly use and I'm certain would delight you. So, this is just the beginning of our conversation. I'll be back with more soon.
You can read more about all things Italian and living the dolce vita on the Italian Mamma blog, and you can follow Di Meglio at Italian Mamma on Facebook or on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.
Article Published 7/18/16
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