Slang as a part of any language can be quite fascinating. Not only does it hold valuable cultural material, but it also preserves language in its most vulgar (raw) state. Slang is used in every language around the world and learning even just the very basics makes it an essential part of participating in any foreign language. The Italian language is no exception to the usage of modern slang. Popular and impassioned colloquialisms are prevalent throughout local interactions of the average Italian’s routine daily life. There are, of course, countless slang words and expressions to choose from, but below we have compiled a list of the 10 most popular terms.
1. Word: Che figata! (That’s cool!)
Origin: Essere una figata – To be cool.
Context: Something that is popular, trendy, or cutting edge.
Sentence Example: Che figata! Fallo ancora. – That’s cool! Do it again.
2. Word: Cicciobomba (Fat slob)
Origin: Ciccio = Fat + Bomba = Bomb
Context: This term is used by Italian youth to call a male individual a “Fat Guy.”
Sentence Example: Ehi Cicciobomba, perdere un po ‘di peso! – Hey you fat slob, lose some weight!
3. Word: Boccalone (A big mouth/gossip)
Origin: This is a 19th century slang term for a big mouth or a gossiper.
Context: It means that someone has very loose lips, and can’t keep a secret.
Sentence Example: Non dirgli il tuo segreto, lui è un boccalone – Do not tell him your secret, he’s a big mouth.
4. Word: Figurati! (Don’t worry about it!)
Origin: From the Latin word figurare, meaning, to picture something figuratively.
Context: It can be used as an exclamation of surprise, as in “No way!” Or as a shrugging off expression, like, “Don’t worry about it,” after someone thanks you for something.
Grazie per il vostro aiuto oggi.
Thanks for your help today.
(Response) “Don’t worry about it!”
Ha poi perso tutto in un giro di ruota. “Figurati!”
He then lost it all in a spin of the wheel.
(Response) “No way!”
5. Word: Dai! (Come on!)
Origin: Shortened from, “Ma Dai,” meaning “Really!”
Context: As an exclamation of disbelief, like “You’re kidding me!”
Sentence Example: Dai! – Dammi una pausa – Come on! – Give me a break!
6. Word: Che schifo! (How disgusting!)
Origin: Schifo is an Old Italian word that means disgust, and it is also used like the English word “Sucks.”
Context: Used to describe something that is especially disappointing, awful, or disgusting.
Che schifo, quanto tempo è che stato in frigo? – How disgusting, how long has that been in the fridge?
Il film fa davvero schifo – The movie really sucks.
7. Word: Meno Male! (Thank God!)
Origin: A variation of Grazie a Bontà = Thank Goodness!
Context: It translates into the English equivalent of Thank God!
Sentence Example: Meno male! Sono così contento che sei vivo. – “Thank God! I’m so glad you’re alive.”
8. Word: Magari! (I hope so.)
Origin: Derived from the Greek word Makari, meaning “Blessed.”
Context: An interjection of hope to someone else’s statement. It can also mean “I wish,” “If only,” or “yeah right” depending on the tone of the conversation.
Pensi che possiamo vincere?
Do you think we can win?
(Response) “I hope so!”
Mi permetta di avere un po ‘di soldi, mi sento fortunato.
Let me have a bit ‘ of money, I feel lucky.
(Response) “Yeah, right!”
9. Word: Pigrone/a (Big lazy bum)
Origin: From the Latin word Pigra, meaning lazy, slow, or dull.
Context: Pigrone translates into English as lazybones.
Sentence Example: Non essere un pigrone, fare il prato come hai promesso. – Don’t be a lazy bum, do the lawn as you promised.
10. Word: Basta! (Enough!)
Origin: Shortened from the Italian word Abbastanza, meaning “enough.”
Context: It basically means, Stop it! – Enough is enough.
Sentence Example: Basta! Mi stai facendo impazzire. – Enough! You’re making me crazy.
All languages have their little idiosyncrasies that are usually not covered in standard textbooks or cross-reference dictionaries and Italian is no exception. Whether you’re just starting to learn or merely brushing up for your big trip to Italy this year, dai! Don’t be a pigrone/a and see if you can put these terms to use!