Thursday, 3 July 2008

13 Italian Words You Already Know

13 Italian Words You Already Know!

What's that? You say you don't speak any Italian at all?

Silly, of course you do! Why, the food words alone are enough to fill a modest vocabulary!

Instead, there are other words that you likely use often - if not every day - that stem rather directly from the Italian language. In fact, here are thirteen of them! :)

1) Graffiti.
Of course you know this one - although I hope there isn't much of it around where you live. Graffiti goes back beyond time, and the most familiar term for it arose from the verb graffiare - "to scratch". Which, naturally, is what mankind has done to blank surfaces from time immemorial.

2) Ghetto.
Although there is a negative connotation to the word now, the original meaning was closer to "foundry", and became associated with enforced living conditions when the Jews were forced to live together on one island in Venice, where the foundry also was. In time, the association became almost universal.

3) Solo.
When you sing a "solo", you sing "alone", which is what this word means. But you knew that, of course. (See what I mean?)

4) Paparazzi ( singular - paparazzo)
Again, a word familiar to us all, but the singular form was/is a last name in Italy. It is thought that the term came to mean "photographers" after Fellini named a photog "Paparazzo" in his film, "La Dolce Vita".

5) Al fresco.
Have you ever dined "al fresco"? Where did you sit? "Al fresco" is sometimes translated as "In the fresh (air)".

6) Ciao.
Pronounced "chow", this is the most common greeting amongst Italian friends. I had to get used to saying this, because when I came here, the only people I knew who had used it were rather "affected" types. Now, it's as natural to me as breathing.

7) Grotto.
A natural or artificial cave, or a cave on the sea - the most famous use is of course the "Blue Grotto" off the coast of the island of Capri.

8) Balcony.
Originally "Balcone" - bal-kone-ay - this is a very familiar feature of countless homes.

9) Cupola.
The name for the rounded dome of many churches or official buildings came from Italian too.

10) Motto.
That saying you live your life by? Italian - and it means the same thing, of course.

11) Prima donna (or Primadonna).
Meaning "first lady", you can guess how this came to pass - demanding sopranos with grand egos gave it the connotation that carries over to this day (whether fair and justified, or not).

12) Ballerina.
This derived from the word "ballare" or "to dance", and means any female dancer.

13) Diva.
Originally from the Italian, it meant "goddess" or even "fine lady" and was reserved for operatic singers - most often sopranos. Now, of course, it enjoys a much-expanded role in the English language. ;)

See? You know more Italian than you think you do!

And, as usual, I get to introduce you to at least one more (ahem) bit of Italian you'd like to get to know a bit better... I apologize for the quality of the pic, but I snapped a photo of it out of a magazine while at the hairdresser's before I left for the States.

Scroll down, please...

Keep going...

There ya go:

Sergio Parisse - Italian Rugby Player.

Ciao for now!


The Daily Dish said...

LOL Well the picture definitely caught my attention ;)

Loved this TT. I love knowing things like this, and a few I actually didn't know were Italian. Thanks for a great TT!

Stephanie Sullivan said...

Wooohooooo!!! YESSSS! Love that picture! *wink* Love your list too!

Anonymous said...

Love the picture! :)

I had no idea graffiti and ghetto were Italian. Of which, there are lots of here in Cincinnati and in Philly.

Cassandra said...

Yay Diva! LOL. I really, really must watch Italian football. Whew. Hawt with a capital cupola. LOL

Awesome post!

My post for T13 is up at:

Dawn said...

Who knew I already knew so much Italian? I must be pretty cultured. ;-)

Adelle said...

And here I thought the only Italian I knew is... Now thatsa bigga meata balla ...

LOL Happy T13!

JazzRasp said...

That's cool, I love languages! Happy TT!

Ava Rose Johnson said...

I had no idea that half of those words were Italian!

And great picture :)

Paige Tyler said...

Very cool TT! Great pic, too!


My TT is at

Paige Tyler said...

Very cool TT! Great pic, too!


My TT is at

Janice said...

Very good TT, I feel like I can speak a little Italian eh?

Cioa for now,

Heather said...

Two of my favorite houses in town are older ones that have cupolas. Absolutely love them! It's also a feature of the house in the YA book "The Four-Story Mistake," a favorite growing up.

Great TT!

Josie said...

I popped over to check you out after reading your comment on brad listi's blog. I loved this little language lesson. I've always wanted to learn Italian, travel to Italy...

I think that we should become good friends so that one day, when I become rich and famous and travel the world, I will have someone in Italy to visit while I'm snagging me one of those hot rugby players to bring back home!lol