10 interesting and strange Italian words and expressions

Italian wooden balcony and red flowers
Ever since my first meeting with Italian language I’m very in love with it. And this love amplifies every time I hear and listen a song in Italian. So, I decided to start a series of posts about what I find interesting, strange, and beautiful about it. You’ll fall in love with it as well, I promise!

Today is the day of 10 interesting Italian words and expressions. Let’s start!
  1. E niente… This is an expression that sounds quite strange to me, because in my native language we don’t have anything special to say when we don’t have anything else to say (!). Literally it means just: and nothing… but it stands for: that’s it (I finished what I had to say). Generally, Italians use so many somehow strange connection words in spoken language!

  2. Macché! This word is actually made up by two words: ma and che, so literally it would be translated as: but what! Yet this word means: you must be joking/certainly not.

    - Penso che tu gli piaccia! (I think he likes you!)
    - Macché!

  3. Boh... Only three letters to say simply: I don’t know. If you want to sound Italian, you should definitely use it. And it is easy to pronounce, like [bo].

  4. Lascia perdere and lascia stare both mean forget about it or never mind. If literally translated, lascia perdere means - let it get lost, while lascia stare means - let it stay

  5. Figurati is another interesting word that may have different meanings depending on the context. Literally translated it is - imagine, but it can mean don’t worry about it (as a reply to thanks), it’s nothing, and no way.

  6. Meno male - less bad, or differently said: it could be worse/not so bad. 

  7. Magari. I tried to come up with a translation of this word into my native language, but any version I had was too long and boring. I would rather avoid using any. But Italians are so good at expressing so many things in such short expressions or words! Magari is definitely a confirmation. It means: I wish/maybe, and it can be used in sooo many cases! 

  8. Cotta/o di lui/lei - baked of her/him. Every time I hear this expression it makes me laugh because when I hear cotta (baked), it reminds me of prosciutto cotto (baked/cooked ham). Did you get the meaning of it already? I guess not, because it’s too strange! Cotta di qualcuno (baked of someone) means to have a crush on someone. Oh!

  9. Allora? This is a word that often annoys me. People use allora so much! It means: so/then, and anytime they have the possibility to use it, they won’t miss it. 

  10. And finally, an interesting Italian word to me is straordinari, overtime hours. It sounds so strange if you think about the adjectival form - straordinario, which means extraordinary/excellent. If I would have to invent a new word to express overtime hours, I don't think I would ever use a word that I associate with the meaning of magnificent. But heyyy, surprise! There is a reason that explains the straordinari form and use. Straordinario comes from the latin extraordinarius, made of extra (out of) and ordinem (order). So, working overtime is something out of the normal order. Isn’t this amazing?
Which of these ones you liked the most, cari amici?
Are there other interesting Italian words or idioms that you love? Comment below!

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  1. I would probably use "Meno male" a lot ... but I found the translation of 'E niente' & 'Magari' the most. I am fascinated by languages because I suck at them ... I envy people who can pick up new languages easily.

    ❥ tanvii.com

  2. Most of the people I meet tells me how they love french (I speak french with my Swiss husband) but I have always love Italian! I used to learn Italian and when speaking with my husband I used to use Allora and Andiamo. Hope to move to the Italian speaking part of Switzerland not only becauae of the beautiful language but also because there is more sun there!😂🙏

  3. I have spent the entire month of October in Italy and I loved using some of these expressions. I did hear around me quite often the "Macche" and "Figurati". I love how different nations have different expressions that probably mean nothing in other languages.

  4. Italian always sounds like such a passionate language, not passionate like French, more like laugh deep down from your belly passionate. Love the words you shared. Now I just need to figure out how to pronounce them

  5. Haha. I have no idea how to pronounce any of these, except Boh since you told us, but it's neat to learn about things like this in other languages! E niente (lol)

  6. well well, being Italian myself I've enjoyed very much this post! My favourite one is definitely "boh". I remember the first time I traveled abroad, I used to say "boh" and was genuinely shocked when people didn't understand me, as I was sure it was an international expression!

    I'm going to tell you another expression you may like. As you probably know, "bella" means beautiful, but you can also say it to mean "cool". And it's not about a woman or girl, but about a thing. A warning: not to use with anyone older than 30 (I used this when I was a teenager, now I live abroad so not sure if it's still used?).

  7. I'm a Spanish and Portuguese speaker so I always love seeing how the expressions compare with other similar languages! Thanks so much for taking the time to highlight these sayings, so interesting. I think my favorite would have to be "macché"!

  8. Ah! I love these! it's fun to actually see how close some expressions are to my own language ( portuguese)! for example meno male ---> menos mal or allora ---> ora
    Fun to see how romantic languages cross together!

  9. Such a beautiful language! I have an Italian client and maybe I can hear her say some of these words now and actually know what she means!! :)

  10. This was fascinating! I love learning new languages. Well, I love learning words in new languages. I always get too bored with one before I finish learning it and move on to the next. My favorite expression is being baked on someone! Love it.

  11. Italian is a very interesting language. I have always wanted to study it but I never found the time. Glad i could come across informative posts like yours!

  12. I have learnt italien since i was 13 and lived on year in turin and can tell how relatable this is aha! such a beautiful language though

  13. This was a fabulous post! I actually did not know any of those terms, this makes me want to learn another language. Thank you for the informative post, I loved reading it and learning new words.

  14. This is so fascinating! I’d probably use Boh & E Neinte because they’re the easiest for me to remember! 😆

  15. my friends uses allora so much but mixes it with english! i finally know what it means!

    x taylor

  16. When I am reading this, I'm wondering what it will be like if you actually do a podcast or video pronouncing all the italian words. It's a very difficult language to learn!

  17. OMG I looove this! I love language and the nuances behind words. So, so fascinating! I love learning why a word is used the way it is even more.