IN BOCCA AL LUPO: What do you Reply (“Crepi” or “Grazie”?) & What does it Mean?

In bocca al lupo è is certainly the most used and renowned Italian expression and its meaning is quite simple: it’s used to wish someone good luck, best of luck! However, many people don’t know the origin or how to reply to this expression. Therefore, in this article, we are going to answer these questions, once and for all!

Why do we say IN BOCCA AL LUPO?

The expression in bocca al lupo seems to find its origin in the hunting world, where hunters were used to wish each other, for luck, to not end up in the wolf’s mouth, namely being devoured. For this reason, even today many people use the replies: crepi and crepi il lupo (may the wolf die)

However a lot of people tend to reply with: grazie (thank you). That’s because when the wolves have to move their young, in order to offer protection or protect them from something by carrying them into their den, they tend to do so by taking them by their mouths! Thus, in conclusion, ending up in the wolf’s mouth takes a positive connotation, since it’s seen seen as a positive gesture.  

Besides, we must say that, according to the legend, the founders of the Ancient City of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were saved by a female wolf. In fact, the female wolf breastfeeding the two babies is one of the symbols of the Italian Capital and the third, but less common, reply is connected to this story, namely: evviva il lupo (long live the wolf)!

Another alternative to wish good luck, even if it’s a bit more vulgar, is: in culo alla balena (break a leg)!

Alright, these are the expressions to wish someone good luck, but if you want to know the other most used Italian expressions, don’t miss all our video-lessons on Italian idioms: it’s worth it!

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