All Italians have noticed that foreigners (especially English, Americans, French, and Spaniards) often shout bravo at the end of a concert or a show.
If you are not Italian, this is a question for you. Did you know that this word is a loan from the Italian language?
And have you ever wondered why people say bravo when applauding and where this custom originated?
Where did Bravo originate?
We can not assure you an answer to why people say bravo when applauding. However, many are satisfied with the explanation that this habit spread thanks to the Italian opera.
Opera is one of the most famous traditions of lyrical music. It originated in Italy, specifically in Florence, between the 15th and 17th centuries. During the Baroque period, opera was widespread, especially in the cities of Rome and Venice. These were shows initially aimed at an elite of intellectuals and aristocrats.
There are many world-famous Italian opera composers. Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini were a few of them. Through them, opera reached many foreign spectators. These listeners that did not speak Italian learned this word. It was a word they would hear a lot during any opera performances in Italy. When these spectators returned to their own countries, they continued to use bravo to express their satisfaction and admiration for singers.
So the conclusion is that once foreigners started to use bravo, it was a matter of time for it to spread as we see it today. The word is now part of many foreign vocabularies.
Bravo in Italian
Now, let’s view the use of the word bravo from the perspective of an Italian. Firstly, they are flattered at having had this impact on other cultures.
However, for Italians, the word bravo is an adjective. And therefore, it links with the noun to which it refers.
So, to congratulate a man, you use bravo. But the word changes to brava if referring to a woman.
The word also changes when referring to a plural noun. For multiple women, you say brave. And bravi for men or a mixed group.
Thus, Italians find it strange to hear bravo when, for example, the audience applauds a group of people or a woman.
Definition of the adjective Bravo in Italian:
1. To be ingenious, expert, competent in one’s art or profession: a good doctor, a good painter, a good singer; and in general, an adjective to refer to those who are successful in something.
Here are some examples of the adjective bravo in Italian:
Essere bravo a scuola, nel proprio mestiere. – Being good in school, in one’s craft.
Flavio è sempre stato bravo a cucinare. – Flavio has always been good at cooking.
Laura è una brava insegnante. – Laura is a good teacher.
2. Bravo is a voice of approval during applause (especially in the theater or in other public performances).
Superlative forms of Bravo in Italian:
When wanting to emphasize, the superlative form comes in handy. Always remember to use the adjective word that matches the noun. Thus, we have these possibilities:
Bravissimo! Bravissima! Bravissimi! Bravissime!
In English, the word bravo has the stress on the final “o.” However, in Italian, the emphasis comes on the “a” of the first syllable.
In most cases, bravo is sincere. But it also can find its way into the mouth of a person being sarcastic.
Hai perso il aereo? Bravo. – Did you lose the plane? Well done!
Bravo, ci mancava solo questa! – Oh great, that’s all we needed!
Do you use the word bravo? What do you think about its origins? Please drop a comment in the box below.
Would you like to read another article about interesting facts about the Italian language? Click here to check it out.