Italian is a language full of expressions and colourful phrases. If you want to speak Italian like a local, here are a few that can be very helpful.
1. Che casino! — what a mess!
Originally the word for brothel, casino is now used to describe any situation that’s a bit out of control, confusing, or crowded, meaning “what a madhouse!”.
2. Magari – I wish!
Magari is the word used to express hope, the wish that the preceding statement were true.
Q. “Vai in Italia quest’anno?” A. “Magari!”
3. Che barba! – how boring!
Literally, “what a beard,” che barba means “what a bore.” Maybe this comes from the idea that it takes a long time to grow a beard, or that whatever’s happening is as boring as watching a beard grow.
4. Non c’entra – that’s irrelevant
Entrarci is an extraordinarily useful verb, especially in the negative, when it means “that has nothing to do with it,” or, “this has nothing to do with you” (i.e., mind your own business).
5. Prendere in giro – to kid or tease
Prendere in giro (to take in a circle) means to be joking. Ti prendo in giro — I’m just pulling your leg.
6. Me ne frega – who cares?
Me ne frega is a slightly rude way of saying, “I couldn’t care less.”
7. In bocca al lupo – good luck
Literally, “in the mouth of the wolf,” in bocca al lupo is the Italian version of “break a leg.” The reply is crepi il lupo — “may the wolf die.” It can be said to someone about to take a test or engage in any challenging activity.
8. Ogni morte di papa – hardly ever
Literally, “every death of a pope,” ogni morte di papa is the equivalent of the English “once in a blue moon.”
9. Ricevuto come un cane in chiesa – to be unwelcome
Ricevuto come un cane in chiesa means “received like a dog in church.” It’s similar to the English “like a whore in church”.
10. Non vedo l’ora – I can’t wait
Literally, “I can’t see the hour,” this is the phrase you use for looking forward to something. As in, non vedo l’ora di tornare in Italia .
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