As in all languages, Italian has some pretty funny way with words – idioms that are difficult to understand unless you have a pretty good command of the language! I was even stumped once with an American idiom -probably because I grew up in an Italian house and, unless I heard them at school or in a social setting, I wouldn’t have ever been exposed to them. The one that got me was “bake a file in a cake“….am I the only one that has never heard that one?
I wanted to share some quirky Italian idioms and try to explain their meaning.
1. “Avere le braccia corte” – having short arms!
This is used when someone is stingy and never offers to pay for anything!
2. “Hai volute la bicicletta…adesso pedala!” – you wanted a bicycle, now pedal it.
Kind of like “you made your bed – now sleep in it!”.
3. “Quando il fieno e vicono al fuoco, bruccia” – when hay is near fire, it will burn!
In other words, when a girl and a boy are close, sparks will fly!
4. “Hai capito Roma per toma” – you understood “roma” for “toma. As far as I know, there isn’t a translation for “toma” – it just rhymes with “roma”. It’s used when someone misunderstands something.
5. “Le piu grand l’uch del buch” – this is Lombardian dialect which translated means “the eye is bigger than the hole“. My grandmother used to tell me this every time I took down a lot of food on my plate and then left half of it uneaten. My eyes were bigger than my stomach.
Do you have any others to add? I think these are always so funny and descriptive!
Italian, like any other language, has some pretty interesting sayings to explain many of life’s experiences. Recently, my husband found a book which listed some of these. Most of these sayings were new to me, but some were familiar because I remember my parents saying them. What’s interesting to realize is that different parts of Italy have their own sayings or ones that they use frequently – I guess much like our American versus British versus Australian sayings – each one has little quips that are particular to their own region!
Here were some of my favorites:
1. Le bugie hanno le gambe corte = lies have short legs! (I used to get this all the time when I was a little girl!!)
2. Occio il tram = watch out for the tram = watch out! (this is Lombardian dialect and who knows if I spelled it correctly!!!) I used to get this all the time, too!
3. Un caval donato non si guarda in boca = don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!
4. Il contadino non puo sapere quant’e buono il formaggio con le pere = Don’t let the peasant know how good cheese is with pears! I don’t really get this one, but I hear it alot. Why can’t the peasant know? Perhaps then he would keep it all to himself?
5. Can che abbaia non morde = the dog that barks does not bite!
6. A tavola non s’invecchia = you don’t get old at the table!
7. Amici e vini sono meglio vecchi = Friends and wine are better old!
There are lots more, and as they come to me, I will post some more 🙂 But in the meantime, if you hear any of these, you will know what they mean.
Forewarned is forearmed….hmmm, I wonder how they say that one in Italian?