Untranslatable Italian Words and Expressions!

In today’s article we are going to talk about 11 expressions and words that, most likely, can’t be translated in other languages. But if there any other translations, you can write them in the comment section!

 Italian words with no translation in other languages! 

Let’s begin with:

1) ti voglio bene

it’s an expression that has a specific meaning, in Italian, with no direct equivalents in other languages and that is different from ti amo. In fact “ti amo” indicates a strong feeling that applies only to romantic relationships and can be translated with: “I love you“, “te quiero“, “je t’aime” ecc. “Ti voglio bene“, instead, is only used in reference to friends we are particularly attached to or to our relatives and parents!

Example: “Io voglio molto bene alle mie amiche Angela e Rosalba” (I really care for my friends Graziana and Angela!)

2) abbiocco

it can be described as a sudden somnolence that usually comes after a large meal

Example: “In genere, dopo il pranzo della Domenica, mi viene l’abbiocco” (Usually, Sunday lunch makes me sleepy)

Talking about food, we have:

3) spaghettata

it’s nothing but a bowl of spaghetti!

Example: “Non appena ci vediamo, ci facciamo una bella spaghettata!” (As soon as we meet, we’ll have a good dish of spaghetti!)

The next expression has not direct translations in other languages, but it has similar counterparts.

4) Tizio, Caio e Sempronio

it is an expression that is used to refer to a group of people whose names  we can’t remember or we don’t know.

Example:”Ieri Marco è andato al bar con Tizio, Caio e Sempronio e ha comprato 50 bottiglie di vino!” (Yesterday Marco went to a bar with Tom, Dick and Harry and he bought 50 bottles of wine!”

Note: “Tom, Dick and Harry”, for example, is the English counterpart.

5) menefreghista

it used to refer to a selfish person who is careless about their duties and the rights of others…

Example: “Giovanni è un vero menefreghista: non si interessa mai di me!” (Giovanni is careless with me!)

6) dietrologia

it indicates the tendency to analyze phenomena and episodes, especially of politic nature, seeking conspiracies, dark motives and, in general, methods and intentions which are different from what has been formerly declared. It can be associated to the expression “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo” (Looking for the cloud in the silver lining).

Example: “I giornalisti fanno spesso dietrologia” (Journalists always make rhetoric)

7) gattara

it refers to a person, usually an unmarried woman, who feeds and take cares of stray and domestic cats.

Example: “Se quella ragazza non cambia atteggiamento, finirà per diventare una gattara” (If that girl doesn’t change her attitude, she’ll end up being an old cat lady)

Note: In the show “The Simpsons” there’s a “gattatra” who, in original language, takes the name of “The Crazy Cat Lady”!

We’re almost at the end of our list :

8) culaccino

it’s the leftover of a liquid which remains in the bottom of a glass or any other recipient, or the trace that was left by a wet recipient on the spot where it was placed.

Example: “Se non sposti il bicchiere, lascerà il culaccino” (If you don’t move that glass, it’ll leave a trace)

9) meriggiare

it indicates a well-defined condition: be resting, outdoor in a shady place, in the warm hours of the afternoon.

Example: “<Meriggiare pallido e assorto> è un famoso verso della poesia Ossi di Seppia di Eugenio Montale” (<Meriggiare pallido e assorto> is a famous poetic verse from Ossi di Seppia written by Eugenio Montale)

10) pantofolaio

it refers to the typical person who lies on the couch in slippers, usually in front the TV without doing nothing special, but merging with the couch.

Example: “Marco è un vero pantofolaio, non fa altro che guardare la tv tutto il giorno!” (Marco is a true couch potato does nothing but watching TV all day!)

The last expression is:

11) apericena

the “apericena” is a sort of  evening aperitif which replaces dinner, since it is accompanied by a generous buffet!

Example: “Che ne dici di andare in quel nuovo locale per un apericena?” (What do you think if we go to that new pub for an apericena)

Now before you leave, we want to show you a bonus expression:

12) qualunquista

it refers to a person who professes or expresses indifference or contempt for the current problems and commitments, especially of social and politic nature.

Example: “Il pensiero qualunquista di Mario mi lascia senza parole!” (Mario’s apathetic thoughts on politics leave me speechless)

Well, what do you think? Do you know these expressions? Do you know any other expressions you can’t translate we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comment section! Besides, you can take a look at our other videos like: Italian everyday colloquialisms or Italian idioms.  They’re very interesting, so don’t miss them!

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