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What Italian Idioms Do You Know?

Discussion in 'Italian Language' started by Linda, May 20, 2013.

  1. I think every language has some idioms but I have to admit, when it comes to the Italian language, I know none :(
    Do you know any Italian idioms? Can you please post them here so I can learn some?
  2. Here are some of the ones I remember on the spot:

    Alla come viene, viene = it comes out as it comes out
    In bocca al lupo = good luck
    Caduto dalle nuvole = to be surprised
  3. What do you exactly mean?

    There are lots of idiomatic phrases (use a phrase that can relate to a situation to describe it):
    EX. "Beato chi c'ha n'occhio" (roman dialect, in italian "Beato chi ha un occhio"). It means "Lucky the one who's got one eye" . When you say this phrase, it means you're in bad situation, and the other person is little better, but very bad too. I'm blind, you've got just one eye.

    There are lots of proverbs: phrases that should be wise and warn you, or explain something.
    "Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani". It means "It's better an egg today than a chicken tomorrow". Of course it's the same old "carpe diem" concept...

    There are lots of dialects. Every region has its own, often it changes a lot fro city to city. They are often completely different languages. Old people in small cities talk only dialect. I wouldn't understand a single word. The young ones speak italian with heavy dialect contaminations, and the pronunce is very different eve for italian. Rome, Florence, Milan have dialects that can be understand by other italians. Sardinia, Puglia, Veneto, Campania are the most different.
    Example, typical sardinian proverb:
    "A s'inimigu parare, a sa justizia fuire" in sardo
    "Al nemico fate fronte, la giustizia temetela" in italiano
    "Face the enemy, fear the justice"

    What are you interest in?

    PS: Please correct my bad english, this is my exercise
  4. I think Linda meant exactly what you explained in your post :)

    Learning a new language can be hard and, yeah, foreign languages come with their own idioms and proverbs and sayings.

    I have also noticed how the elderly tend to speak in dialect but they also use a lot of these sayings to make a point. At first I was so confused I thought I have landed on another planet!

    For instance, I know that when you wish 'good luck' to someone, you say "In bocca al lupo". But... (here's the funny part), someone answered me back and said "crepi!". Imagine that I thought she was referring to me!!! I honestly thought she had something against me or maybe I offended the girl and i felt terrible! Then I found out that "crepi" is just what Italians say.....
  5. We did an entire exercise on idioms in my university Italian class! I can't remember many of them, apart from "la frittata è fatta" which means "the damage has been done" (literally, "the omelette has been made"). Not strictly idioms, but I know "un film giallo" (a "yellow" film) is a thriller film and if something is "piccante" then it's sexy! (Which could probably be worked out!)
  6. I have enjoyed reading about Italian idioms. I am sure that just the words alone would translate strangely, making it hard for a language learner to grasp the meaning. Learning phrases in context is easier, don't you think?
  7. My girlfriend once taught me the idiom "un cane in chiesa", which means a dog in church. It's used to refer to an unwelcome guest, someone as welcome as a dog would be in a place of worship.
  8. They do come out sounding funny in English. My mother-in-law said the worst part of learning the English language was that a lot of the time her Italian phrases did not translate properly here.
  9. I will share some proverbi:
    Aiutati che Dio t’aiuta= Help yourself and God will help you.
    A buon intenditor, poche parole= To a good listener, a few words
    A caval donato non si guarda in bocca
    = You shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth
    La speranza e l’ultima a morire= Hope is the last to die
    The last one is one of my favorites.
  10. Thеrе аrе sо mаny оf thеm, I dоn't knоw whеrе tо stаrt...
    Hеrе аrе а fеw оf my fаvоritеs:
    1) Fаrе i соnti sеnzа l'оstе (lit. sum yоur bill withоut thе rеstаurаnt's оwnеr).
    This is sаid whеn sоmеоnе mаkеs plаns withоut соnsidеring pоtеntiаl prоblеms.
    2) In bосса аl lupо (lit. intо thе mоuth оf thе wоlf). This mеаns "gооd luсk".
    3) Mаngiаrе lа fоgliа (lit. tо еаt thе lеаf). This mеаns "tо undеrstаnd thе situаtiоn", "tо sее bеhind thе triсk".
    4) асquа in bосса (lit. wаtеr in thе mоuth). This mеаns "tо kееp а sесrеt".
  11. Fаrе un buсо nеll'асquа (mаkе а hоlе in thе wаtеr). This mеаns wаsting timе dоing аn impоssiblе оr usеlеss tаsk.
    Nаsсеrе соn lа саmiсiа (tо bе bоrn with а shirt). This mеаns "tо bе vеry luсky", "tо bе privilеgеd".
    Nоn sаpеrе сhе pеsсi pigliаrе (nоt tо knоw whаt fish tо саtсh). This mеаns "tо bе сluеlеss", "tо bе uttеrly соnfusеd".
    Itаliаn is pаrtiсulаrly riсh in idiоms, prоvеrbs, pоpulаr lоrе, diаlесts еtс... sо thе аbоvе bаrеly sсrаtсhеs thе surfасе.
  12. My fаvоritеs аrе:
    Vа fа’n сulо! (“up yоurs!”)
    сhе inсаzzаtо iо n’еrо!” (“I wаs rеаlly pissеd-оff аbоut it!”)
    сhе саzzо vuоi dirе? (“Whаt thе fuсk dо yоu mеаn?”)
  13. Here are the two I could research:

    Someone who can eat anything without suffering any side effect has a stomach like that of an ostrich

    Someone who changes his principles and ideas according to his interests or mindset is likened to a chameleon.
  14. Un pezzo di payne (a piece of bread) means their a good egg, non mi rompere Le scatole (don't break my boxes) means your getting on their nerves stop annoying them, prendi lucciole per lanterne (mistaken fireflys for lanterns) means they confused one thing for another. These are just a few idioms, there are so many more.:)
  15. Haha, this is a good one really, "un cane in chiesa", I am going to remember it for future use! :D

    Not really sure about yours @tony, you have just posted the English versions, what about in Italian? @AlexZ, come on, are those really your favorite? :p
  16. Yes I did have to put it in English so it will be easy for every reader to understand. I am sure you aware not everyone on this forum understand Italia language as you may probably do. For an Italian version of the saying, that wouldn't be hard.
  17. This is Neapolitan. A lavà a capa o ciuccio se perde l’acqua e o sapone (A lavare la testa all’asino si perdono acqua e sapone) Parlare con gli ignoranti è solo una gran perdita di tempo. Talking with ignorant and stubborn people is a waste of time.
  18. Nope, actually I don't speak Italian, but I do speak Portuguese, so there are some similar words as both languages come from Latin.

    Here's an interesting one: Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta. Meaning: Heaven (or god) helps those who help themselves.

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