If you want to speak Italian like a native, you must know these 8 colloquialisms that every Italian uses!
8 COLLOQUIAL EXPRESSIONS Italians always use!
1. LASCIARE A DESIDERARE – meaning and use
This expression is used to indicate something that looks unpleasant or that isn’t good nor satisfying.
– Che ne pensi di questa maglia? (What do you think about this T-shirt?)
2. ESSERE LA MORTE SUA! – meaning and use
Although death is involved, this expression is very funny! It is used to indicate two things – especially food – that go well together, in particular if they form a perfect match and if their taste is better if they’re eaten at the same time.
La mortadella è buonissima con la mozzarella… ma la morte sua è con la focaccia! Provare per credere! (Mortadella is delicious with mozzarella… but nothing beats its combination with focaccia! Proof is in the pudding!)
3. FARE CILECCA – meaning and use
It seems that the original meaning of this expression was “to miss the target”, “not to shoot”, generally referred to firearms.
The meaning of this expression, however, spread and nowadays it is used with reference to any failure, especially when something or someone fails at the best part, in the decisive moment.
Tutti quelli che non seguono LearnAmo fanno cilecca negli esami di italiano! (Those who don’t follow LearnAmo fail the Italian exams)
“Fare cilecca”, however, is also often used with reference to a sexual performance during which the man “fails”!
4. AVERNE ABBASTANZA – meaning and use
This is an expression that we use a lot and it means “to be tired of something or someone”.
Ne ho abbastanza di Luigi e dei suoi continui lamenti! Sembra che non gli vada mai bene nulla! (I’m sick of Luigi and his constant complaints! It seems nothing’s ever right for him)
– Sai che Marta vorrebbe un altro prestito? (Do you know that Marta wants another loan?)
– No! Ne ho abbastanza! Non posso finanziarle tutto io! (No! I’m sick of her requests! I cannot pay for everything she wants!)
5. CAZZEGGIARE – meaning and use
Yes, we know this is not an expression, but a verb! However, we decided to add it here because it is a very colloquial verb that means “to waste time”, “to do useless activities”.
Luigi è un vero fannullone! Quando torna da scuola cazzeggia piuttosto che fare i compiti! (Luigi is a real deadbeat! When he comes back home from school, he wastes time rather than doing his homework!)
6. MANNAGGIA! – meaning and use
“Mannaggia!” is a common exclamation that is used to give emphasis when expressing disappointment, anger, sadness or frustration.
For example, if the train is late when you have to go to work, if the supermarket is closed but you need some olive oil, if you forgot your smartphone in the car… you might say:
Mannaggia! – (Damn!) alone
or followed by the preposition A + object / person you’re mad at:
Mannaggia al treno! (Damn the train!)
Mannaggia al supermercato! (Damn the supermarket!)
Mannaggia a me! (Damn me!)
7. ANDARE A GENIO (A) – meaning and use
This expression has the meaning of “to be pleasing”, “to please”, “to entice”.
– Vieni con me a vedere il nuovo film della Marvel? Avengers Endgame? (Are you coming to watch with me the latest Marvel movie? Avengers Endgame?)
– No guarda… chiedi a qualcun altro… I film di fantascienza proprio non mi vanno a genio! (No… You have to ask to someone else… I don’t like science fiction films!)
8. NON AVERE LA PIÙ PALLIDA IDEA – meaning and use
This expression just means “I don’t know”, “I have no idea”.
– Quanto dista il panificio da qui? (How far is the bakery from here?)
– Non ne ho la più pallida idea! Non sono di queste parti! (I have no idea! I’m not from here!)
Do you want to learn other colloquial expressions? Watch our video-lesson about 10 things Italians always say!
If you prefer reading, why don’t you buy our book “Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni”?
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!