How long | 2 minutes
Understanding and using properly Italian idioms can often be a hard challenge for those who want to learn Italian, even when going through an Italian language course but, hey! Technology can help. 🙂
Here’s a list of 10 very useful Italian idioms… explained through emoticons.
1.Che pizza! 🍕
Let’s begin with a very simple yet very Italian expression – Che pizza! (What a pizza!) is often said when referring to something boring 😐 or repetitive, because after all we are in Italy where the pizza’s cultural influences are limitless.
2. Non sto mica qui ad asciugare gli scogli! ☔ 🌊 ☔
This literally translates to: “I’m not here drying sea stacks (rocks in the sea)”, a colourful way to say “I’m not doing something useless / I am doing something worthy”. For example, you may find yourself at work, absorbed in your tasks, and then suddenly a colleague demands what you’ve been up to “Where have you been?!”: this might be one of those moments when to say “Non sto mica qui ad asciugare gli scogli”. A variant of this expression is “Non sto qui a pettinare le bambole” (I’m not here combing dolls). 🎎 🎎
3. Prendere fischi per fiaschi. 🎉 🎉
To understand ‘whistles’ (fischi) instead of ‘wicker wine basket’ (fiaschi). Let’s face it, the English translation is really not that great 🤔 as the Italian expression is entirely based on its use of alliteration between the Italian words fischi (/ˈfiski/) and fiaschi (/ˈfjaski/). Without further ado, it simply means to misunderstand something.😅
4. Hai voluto la bicicletta? Adesso pedala! 🚲 🚲 🚲 🚲
“Didn’t you want a bicycle? Now ride”: pretty self-explanatory I think. 😀
5. Ogni scarrafone è bello a mamma soja. 🐞👪
This one is actually a Neapolitan dialect rather than standard Italian language, but it’s so famous that its usage became popular from the South all the way to the North of Italy. It translates to: “Every beetle is beautiful to his mother”, meaning that for mothers their child/children will always be special and beautiful (even when life shows that there’s room for improvement, but none of us are perfect so let’s not even go there 😜 ) . The beetle isn’t exactly the cutest thing out there!
6. Se mio nonno avesse le ruote, sarebbe una carriola. ☸ ☸ ☸
“If my grandpa had wheels it would be a wheelbarrow”. A very pragmatic sentence, meaning that it’s pointless to think “If this, then that…”. 🤔 🤔
7. Durare da Natale a Santo Stefano.
“Lasting from Christmas 🎄 to Saint Stephen’s day”. Santo Stefano (for the non-Catholic
readers) is celebrated on the 26th of December, so this idiom is used to point out that
something will last for a very short period of time, be it the quality of an item or the predicted duration of your friends new relationship..
8. Avere il braccino corto.
“To have a tiny short arm” simply means to be stingy 💵 ❌… Since you have such short arms you struggle to reach your wallet. Cheeky!
9. Dare le perle ai porci.
“To give pearls to pigs” 🐷 means when you give something to someone who is not able to appreciate the quality/importance of it.
10. Sto con una mano davanti e una di dietro. 👋 👋
Last but not least, here we have my favourite Italian idiom. “I’m with one hand at the front and one at the back” (with the intention to cover one’s nudity) which means… “I’m broke”, or, literally, “I’m covering my private parts for I don’t have money to afford pants”. 😂 😂 What I find amusing is how well it depicts the idea – definitely more colourful and better said in Italian than in English.☺
So what do you think? Which Italian expression did you find the most amusing or interesting 💡 ? Did we miss something out? Let us know in the comments below! ⬇ ⬇ ⬇ ⬇