GOSSIPING in ITALIAN: VERBS ed EXPRESSIONS to talk like a native!

Who hasn’t gossiped at least once in their life? I know, it’s not nice, but sometimes you can’t help but give your opinion on something, even without being asked by the interested parties.

In this lesson, we’ll see the vocabulary related to GOSSIP and RUMORS and idioms on the same topic.

1. Gossip in Italian: VERBS

Spettegolare: the tendency or habit to speak behind other people’s backs, either to simply express opinions on issues that do not concern us, or to just criticize.

Synonyms are: ciarlare and cianciare. They both indicate to be involved in idle chatter, often about other people. Another one is sparlare, which has only the negative meaning of “to say bad things about other people behind their backs”.

From the verb “cianciare” derives the exclamation “Bando alle ciance!” (“No talking!”).

Ciance is (in Tuscan) the idle and vain chatter. That’s why “Bando alle ciance!” means “Enough with the idle gossip and rumors!”. It is used when we want to invite our interlocutor to stop wasting time with chatter and gossip and to start doing something more concrete instead.

Example:

Detesto andare in ufficio perché i miei colleghi spettegolano tutto il tempo e io devo lavorare per tutti! [I hate going to the office because my colleagues gossip all the time, and I have to work for everyone!]

Pettegolezzo: inappropriate or malicious comment about someone who is not present. It can have a neutral meaning (you talk just to talk) or a more negative one (you really want to speak badly of the other person).

This term has many synonyms, such as: diceria, gossip, ciarla, chiacchiera, rumor, voce (di corridoio), maldicenza (this is the only one that can be used exclusively in a negative sense).

Example:

Devi credere a ciò che ti dico, non devi dare ascolto alle voci di corridoio e ai pettegolezzi che circolano sul mio conto. [You have to believe what I tell you, you shouldn’t listen to the hallway rumors and gossip circulating about me.]

Pettegolo: a person who gossips and has the habit of speaking indiscreetly or with malice about others.

Curiosity: the word “pettegolo” derives from “peto” (fart), you can imagine why: it refers to the verbal incontinence of someone who likes to gossip and their inability to withhold comments.

Example:

Riesco a confidarmi con Luisa perché so che non è una pettegola e non direbbe mai i fatti miei in giro. [I can tell everything to Luisa because I know she’s not a gossip and would never spread my personal matters around.]

Ficcanaso: not necessarily a gossip, but a person who loves to get involved in things that don’t concern them at all.

Example:

Il nostro vicino è un ficcanaso, controlla sempre a che ora entriamo o usciamo di casa. [Our neighbor is nosy, always checking what time we enter or leave the house.]

Chiacchierone: a person who can’t stop speaking and can’t keep a secret. They’re can be a gossip, but they can also be just a person who simply likes to talk.

Example:

Quel chiacchierone di Luca ha raccontato tutto al mio capo. Che figura! [That chatterbox Luca told everything to my boss. How embarrassing!]

Linguacciuto: this is also a synonym for “gossip”, someone who is inclined to gossip, and is always ready to fight back with sharp, provocative, arrogant or offensive answers.

Example:

Marco è maleducato e anche linguacciuto! [Marco is rude and also foul-mouthed!]

Malalingua: someone who speaks in a completely negative way, with the malicious purpose of offending and despising others.

Example:

Riccardo è una persona subdola: è una spia e una malalingua, non devi assolutamente fidarti di lui. [Riccardo is a cunning person: he’s a spy and a gossip, you absolutely shouldn’t trust him.]

2. Gossip in Italian: EXPRESSIONS

Here are some idioms that are used to refer to the act of gossiping:

Essere pettegolo come una portinaia: to be gossipy, talkative, like doorkeepers, traditionally described as those who are interested in and know everything of the tenants’ lives.

Example:

Beatrice sa tutto di tutti, è pettegola come una portinaia. [Beatrice knows everything about everyone, she gossips like a doorkeeper.]

Tagliare e cucire / Avere una lingua che taglia e cuce: to be a slanderous, gossipy person, but also capable of responding in tone.

Example:

Sta’ attento a quella persona. Quella là c’ha una lingua che taglia e cuce. [Be careful with that person. She has a tongue that cuts and stitches.]

Dire peste e corna: to gossip about someone, abounding with malice, almost despising and insulting them indirectly.

Example:

Serena sembra carina e gentile, ma poi, alle spalle, dice peste e corna di tutti! [Serena seems nice and kind, but then, behind people’s backs, she badmouths everyone!]

Avere la lingua lunga: to talk too much and tell other people’s business to everyone. It is also used to refer to those who are not able to keep a secret.

Example:

Sono una persona molto riservata e parlo poco, nessuno può sostenere che io abbia la lingua lunga. [I’m a very reserved person who doesn’t speak a lot, no one can claim that I have a loose tongue.]

Avere la lingua biforcuta: to be liars, traitors, who always speak ill of everyone. The original reference goes back to the tongue of snakes, commonly considered sneaky and treacherous animals.

Example:

Io e Rita abbiamo litigato, ho finalmente aperto gli occhi sul suo conto: è una persona cattiva e dalla lingua biforcuta. [Rita and I had an argument, I finally opened my eyes about her: she’s a mean person with a forked tongue.]

Tenere a freno la lingua: what gossiper should do, which is paying attention to how they express themselves, do not use inappropriate language, do not give irreverent or rude answers, do not gossip, do not reveal confidences or secrets.

Example:

Dovresti tenere a freno la lingua, stai esprimendo dei pareri non richiesti e su questioni che non ti competono! [You should watch what you say, you’re giving unsolicited opinions on matters that aren’t your concern!]

Well yes, we’ve reached the end of this interesting lesson! You’ll realize how useful these verbs and expressions can be in a conversation, because, you know… a bit of gossip never hurts. To continue, we suggest our article on the Make-Up Vocabulary, so gossip won’t be your only topic of conversation!

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