Italian Idiomatic Expressions

Italian Idiomatic Expressions

Each dialect has its own unique idiomatic expressions or phrases, which often cannot be translated into any other language. It is one of the many ways we personalize the communication between us.

Each dialect has its own peculiar ways of speaking: expressions that often cannot be translated into any other language. It is one of the many ways we personalize the communication between us. An idiom is a special phrase or expression with a figurative meaning distinct from its literal meaning. All languages have idiomatic expressions, and in English alone the total is estimated at around 25,000. Typically they cannot be translated directly, but many other languages have their own particular expressions that can express a similar idea.

Italian is no different. However, not surprising, the Italian idiomatic expressions ARE very different from their English counterparts.

Italian Idioms

A tutti i costiAt any cost – No matter what
Affare fattoIt’s a deal
Alla buon’oraIt was about time
Altro cheOf course; you can bet your life!
Bell’affareThat’s really good! (ironic)
Bella robaVery nice (ironic)
Buon per teLucky you
C’è modo e modoThere are ways and ways
Caschi il mondoNo matter what
Che barbaHow boring
Che mattoneHow boring
Che noiaHow boring
Che palleHow boring/annoying
Che robaI can’t believe it
Che schifoHow disgusting!
Che ti passa per la testa?What’s the matter with you
Chi s’è visto s’è vistoEveryone for himself
Ci mancherebbe altroGod forbid
Ci vuole altroIt takes much more than that
Con rispetto parlandoExcuse my French
Cose dell’altro mondoIt is out of this world
D’altro cantoOn the other hand
Da morireA lot
Dio ce la mandi buonaLet’s hope for the best
È una parolaEasy to say
Faccio presente che..Bear in mind
Fatti gli affari tuoiMind your business
Fra l’altroAmong other things
Gatta ci covaI smell a rat
In ogni modoAnyway; or at any cost
In parole povereIn a few words
In poche paroleIn a few words
Lascia correreForget it
Lascia perdereForget it
Lascia stareForget it
Lasciami stareLeave me alone
Lasciamo perdereForget it
Lasciamo stareForget it
Ma vaI don’t believe you. It’s impossible. Don’t tell me that
Manco per sognoIn your dreams
Meglio cosìIt is better this way
Meglio di nullaBetter this that nothing at all
Meno maleLuckily (Good thing!)
Mi fa specie di teI can’t believe you did this
Modestia a parteIn all modesty
Nemmeno per sognoIn your dream
Non c’è altroThat’s all
Non fare il preziosoDon’t play hard to get
Non farti pregareDon’t play hard to get
Non ne posso piùI can’t stand it anymore
PadronissimoAs you like! All right then!
Parole d’oroAmen, You said it
Per caritàGod forbid
Per farla breveTo cut it short
Porca miseriaDamn it
Roba da mattiHard to believe – That’s crazy
Santa paceMy goodness
Sei sicuro/a?Are you sure?
Siamo alle soliteThere we go again
Stiamo freschiAnd now what?
Sul serio?Really?
Tanto di guadagnatoSo much the better
Tanto meglioSo much the better
Tanto peggioSo much the worse
Tieni presente…Bear in mind
Tutt’altroOn the contrary
Vale la penaIt’s worth it

Italian Idiomatic Expressions

Idioms and figurative expressions are an integral part of how we communicate with each other. In a sense, they are a sort of grammatical curiosity, similar to the use of sarcasm; but it goes much deeper. Some experts suggest that our language reflects the true complexity of our mind, indicating that we are not made to function only on a logical and literal basis. (And don’t forget to watch out for false friends!)

It’s raining “cats and dogs?” Or “like little sheep?”

The way we speak is, in a certain sense, artistic, and can help create a bond between people of the same culture, in the presence of certain phrases that only they can understand. It can also establish contact between individuals of different cultures, when they realize that each has a specific phrase to express the same meaning. Or in the Italian-American community, for example, it can help connect them to their roots.

In this way, language becomes more than just a way of exchanging information: it binds us together in a human and lost sense.

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