If your dream is to speak Italian like a native speaker, you must understand and even use their expressions! It will separate you from others wanting to learn Italian!
Here are ten common Italian expressions that every Italian learner should know.
1. A buon mercato – At a good market
When someone tells you that they bought something at “buon mercato,” it translates into getting a deal. Use this expression when you find something at a low or convenient price.
For example, you could say:
Ho comprato la stessa palla a buon mercato. – I bought the same ball cheaply.
2. Di punto in bianco – of point in white
When an action is carried out without any preparation, by surprise, we could say that it has occurred “di punto in bianco” (suddenly). It seems that the origin of this expression is due to military language.
Giulia si è alzata e di punto in bianco è andata via. – Julia got up all of a sudent and left.
3. Acqua in bocca! – water in the mouth
“Acqua in bocca” is a colloquial expression in Italian. Use this when you ask someone not to reveal a secret. The idea behind the expression is that no one is able to speak with a mouth full of water!
Sapevi che Alessandro e Valentina si sono fidanzati? Non dirlo a nessuno! Acqua in bocca! – Did you know that Alexander and Valentina got engaged? Don’t tell anyone! Keep it to yourself!
4. Ridere sotto i baffi – To laugh under the whiskers
Whoever “rides sotto i baffi” is actually trying to hide the movement of the lips under the whiskers to avoid being discovered. The expression describes a person pretending to be serious while actually laughing at something or someone.
Quando Luigi ha detto che lui è il miglior calciatore del mondo ho iniziato a ridere sotto i baffi. – When Luigi said that he is the best soccer player in the world, I started laughing under my breath.
5. Vuotare il sacco – Empty the bag
When someone “vuota il sacco,” he has decided to tell the truth and not hide anything. Here is an example of the expression denoting somebody that shares all he knows about a matter, including the secrets.
Il ladro, dopo un lungo interrogatorio della polizia, ha deciso di vuotare il sacco. – The thief, after a lengthy police interrogation, decided to spill the beans.
6. Non mi va – I do not feel like it!
The literal translation in English is “it does not go for me.” However, it does not capture the meaning of the phrase. A more accurate translation is “I am not in the mood for it.”
Giuseppina, non mi va di discutere. – Josephine, I do not feel like arguing.
7. Fare un bidone – to make a drum
To “fare un bidone” to someone means not keeping a commitment. Or to miss an appointment.
Dovevamo incontrarci all 16.00 ma alla fine non è venuto. Roberto mi ha fatto un bidone! – We were supposed to meet at 4 p.m. but ended up not coming. Roberto stood me up!
8. Fare un freddo cane – It is a cold dog
This expression is used in Italian to say that it is so cold that, perhaps, only dogs could stand it. The funny thing is that this expression seems to have Eskimo origins.
Here is an example of the phrase in a sentence:
Mamma mia! Oggi fa un freddo cane! – Mamma mia! It is so cold today!
9. Avere le mani bucate – to have holes in the hands
Someone who wastes all his money is compared to having holes in his hands and thus not being able to keep it.
Aurora ha le mani bucate! Ogni settimana si compra qualcosa di nuovo. – Aurora spends it all! Every week she buys herself something new.
10. In fretta e furia – In a hurry and with fury
A person who does something in a hurry is said to do it “in fretta e furia,” so not only in a hurry but also with violence, fury, and impetus.
Stamattina Stefano è uscito in fretta e furia. – This morning Stephen went out in a hurry.
What about you? Did you know these colloquial expressions in Italian? Would you like to add a few more? Please, leave them in the comment box.
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