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Italian words that don't exist in English

Isn't it amazing how some words from different languages have absolutely no correspondence in English?

Living abroad and speaking another language is great. You get to witness some extreme brain marvel. Like when you realise you are dreaming in your second language, or when you can't remember if you've seen a movie in your mother tongue or not.


Italian words that don't exist in English

However, I do miss a couple of words that are so clear and explicit in Italian, and there is just no such concept in English.
  • "Tirarsela"
Pronounciation: tee-rah-r-seh-lah
Translation: pulling oneself's
Meaning: action that a person does when they believe they are better than someone else. Or when they behave like they are the most beautiful/cool. You could even specify until where they are tirarsela, for example 'from here to Rome'. Note how this passive verb highlights the one-way direction of the action. No one else is involved in this person belief to be all that.

  • "Limonare"
Pronounciation: lee-mon-ah-reh
Translation: to lemon
Meaning: this one is easy, it means to French kiss, but more slang. It's like tash on/ pash on, and even though it's a teenage word, we all still use it. People don't French kiss at festivals, they do limonare. Maybe because it reminds of the movement you make to juice a lemon, or it refers to the disgusted expression of people around you.

  • "Figuraccia"
Pronounciation: phee-goo-rah-chee-ah
Translation: bad impression
Meaning: contrary to a first bad impression, you can make a figuraccia anytime, anywhere, with anyone. When you trip on your own shoelaces and fall, that's a figuraccia. When you call someone the wrong name, another figuraccia. If you want to be really rude you can say 'figura di merda', shitty impression, for example when your mate tried to be cool but got metaphorically smacked in the face.

  • "Disagio"
Pronounciation: dee-sah-jo
Translation: feeling unease
Meaning: despite having an English word to express the same concept, its Italian counterpart is widely used as exclamation or adjective. When you witness something that makes you cringe you might think: what a disagio. Similarly, when you go through your teenage pictures and realise the impact straightening irons had on your overall appearance, you may say you had disagio hair back then.

  • "Buon appetito"
Pronounciation: boo-on app-eh-tit-oh
Translation: good appetite
Meaning: that's what every Italian would say before having a meal with someone else. We say this with our family, friends, partner, and it's actually considered well manner to wish your tablemates buon appetito before you start digging in. On a side note, when we cheer and let our glasses touch we make sure we are not crossing arms with anyone else and that we are looking the other person in the eyes. Otherwise it's bad luck.

  • "Abbiocco"
Pronounciation: ah-bee-okko
Translation: n/a
Meaning: the physical feeling you get at about 2 to 3 pm, or right after lunch, when you are just too tired to function. All you need 
to combat abbiocco is a bit of siesta time, relax and possibly a nap, or coffee, lots of it


  • "Scazzo" 
Pronounciation: s-kah-zzoh
Translation: un-dick
Meaning: You would use scazzo when you have to take on a task that you find particularly boring an you would rather be doing literally anything else instead. Doing housework? An hour commute to work or school? What a scazzo. Also, you can use it as a verb, in that case you become scazzato when you are losing your temper, feeling frustrated and slightly irritated.

  • "Truzzo" 
Pronounciation: troo-zzoh
Translation: n/a
Meaning: It's no secret that a truzzo, in Italy, is the equivalent of a 'Guido' on Jersey Shore, or of an Australian 'Muzza'. But you may not know that everything that belongs to the real of these individuals is truzzo as well! Spiky hair with frosted tips are truzzo's hair. Those useless club sunglasses with bars instead of lenses are truzzo's glasses. A bright green heavily modified car is a truzzo's car. 'Untz Untz' music is truzzo music. If something is the ignorant version of preppy, chances are, it's truzzo.

These are just a few of the words I keep sliding into everyday conversation with nonchalance, expecting unaware Australians to know what I'm talking about.



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