Italian Expressions & Gestures!

Studentville has published a funny article about 10 Italian Slang Expressions you absolutely need to know when dealing with Italian people.

Here are some of them (from the article):

Che palle! (keh PAL-leh)

Translated word for word as, “What balls!” it’s the short and sweet equivalent to “What a pain in the ass!” Tack it onto the end of any annoying activity for added emphasis: “We have to climb all those stairs? Che palle!” or mumble it under your breath when someone causes you general agitation: “Put a scarf on or you’ll get pneumonia!” Che palle.

Figurati! (Fee-GUH-rah-tee)

“Don’t worry about it!” or “It’s nothing!” Just like in English, you can use it when you really mean it: “Thank you so much for the great meal!” “Figurati!” Or to be nice when you really don’t: “I’m sorry I spilled red wine on your brand new, white 500€ Gucci shirt.” “…Figurati!”

Mi fa cagare! (mee fah cah-GAH-reh)

Italians take expressing discontent to a whole new level with the descriptive “It makes me poop,” (HA) leaving us English speakers in the dust with our 1 million times less dramatic and funny, “It’s awful.” “That restaurant? Mi fa cagare!” “His tight shirt? Mi fa cagare!” “American coffee? Mi fa cagare!”

Che schifo! (keh SKEE-foh)

“How disgusting!” Here are some likely scenarios you will encounter in Italy, just waiting for a “che schifo.” The people sitting next to you on the bench think they’re in their bedroom: “Che schifo!” A pigeon poops on your head: “Che schifo!” You see a 70 year-old man hitting on a 19 year-old girl: “Che schifo!”

Magari! (mah-GAHR-ee!)

The Italian counterpart to “I wish!” “Let’s hope!” or “Maybe!” When someone asks you if you plan on coming back to Italy, marrying an Italian and living in a villa in the Tuscan countryside, you can respond with“Magari!” (because of course you do). “Magari” is also great for playing it cool with the opposite sex: “Will we ever see each other again?” “Magari!”

Basta! (BAH-stah!)

“Enough!” “That’s it!” Use it to stop the fruit vendor from filling your bag with 20 extra oranges: Basta, basta! Add it to the end of your order: “Una pizza e basta” Or shout it to the people singing songs at 4 a.m. outside your apartment window: “BASTA!”

Which ones do you know? Which ones have you heard during your travels in Italy?  Do you know any other expression?

I personally use just some of them: che palle is definitely a must! I keep saying it when something doesn’t go the way I want. I have to stay longer at work? Che palle. It’s raining again. Che palle. The Tube is closed for improvements? Che palle!

I also use Mamma Mia – not mentioned in the article but used by 99% of Italian people – meaning literally My Mum but used as equivalent of Oh My God!

But Italians use just as many gestures to express themselves. Sometimes gestures have the meaning of a whole sentence! I can say: I’m hungry, I am going to kill you, What the f***? & plenty of other things with just one gesture! You don’t believe me? Check out this video featuring Dolce & Gabbana models trying out Italian gestures!


11 responses to “Italian Expressions & Gestures!

  1. the most repeated word we heard during our visit to Italy 2 or 3 years ago was gracias (i don’t know how to spell it!) but it means thank you…

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