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We all know that Italian is a beautiful and passionate language.
But did you know that Italian can be a pretty funny language?
Italian is full of funny words and phrases used in everyday situations, some of which you will laugh out loud the whole day once you hear them.
To make your day full of fun and entertainment, we’ve prepared the 11 most funny Italian sayings.
If that doesn’t make you laugh until your jaw hurts, or you want more of them, no people know more than native Italian speakers. Contact them and make your day even more entertaining.
And now, let’s start laughing!
Literally: To be always in a way like parsley.
English equivalent: To be everywhere
This food-related Italian phrase is one of the favorites. True that parsley grows everywhere, and you can plant it wherever you want. Also, Italians use it in almost every dish. Perhaps that’s why this phrase ‘Essere come il prezzemolo’ refers to someone or something that can be found everywhere, just like ‘prezzemolo.’
The similar phrase ‘Sei sempre in mezzo come il prezzemolo!’ in the meaning, to mind your own business and not to put your nose in the things that don’t concern you.
Quelle scarpe sono come il prezzemolo!- Those shoes are like parsley!
Literally: He has fish hooks in his pockets.
English equivalent: A cheap person.
When someone has fish hooks in his pockets, it means that the person is cheap. He doesn’t want to pay the bill in the restaurant, or when that happens, he insists not to pay the whole bill, chooses the cheapest birthday present, and so on.
Ha ami da pesca in tasca. Paga il conto almeno una volta nella vita!- You’re a cheap person. Pay the bill at least once in a lifetime!
Literally: To throw in the sponge towel
English equivalent: To give up on someone/ something
To give up on someone or something, no matter the reason, in a more illustrated way, you can use the phrase ‘Gettare la spugna.’
Hai già gettato la spugna?! Su, corri!- Are you tired? Do you already want to give up? Come on, run!
Literally: Into the mouth of the wolf
English equivalent: To break a leg.
When you want to wish someone good luck, you can say ‘In bocca al lupo.’ It is a synonym of ‘Buena fortuna,’ or ‘Good luck.’ Therefore, you can use either of them.
People usually reply with ‘Crepi il lupo,’ which means ‘The wolf cracks.’ That’s the way to thank the good wishes.
Preparate un monologo e in bocca al lupo, amici.- Be sure to bring a monologue and break a leg, comrades.
Literally: Without hair on his tongue!
English equivalent: Not to mince one’s words.
According to this phrase, if someone has a hair on his tongue, it means that he’s hiding the truth, and he can’t be honest. Therefore, if someone speaks ‘without hair on his tongue,’ that person isn’t afraid to tell everything that is on his mind, the bare truth, even if it means offending someone.
Come sto con questo vestito? Non devi avere peli sulla lingua!- How do I look with this dress? Don’t mince your words!
Literally: I don’t give a dried fig.
English equivalent: I don’t give a damn.
It perhaps seems a little bit harsh saying in English, as well as in Italian, but when you really don’t care about a particular thing, or you can’t care less what your speaker talks about, you can use this phrase.
Sai che ha divorziato? - Do you know that she got divorced?
No m’importa un fico secco.- I can’t care less.
Literally: You don’t live with just bread.
English equivalent: Life is more than just the basics.
In Italy, when you don’t live just with bread means that there is always much more than being satisfied with just the basics. You don’t have to be content just with little, basic things because there are many amusing, exciting, and worthwhile things in life and better possibilities.
Non di solo pane vivrà l'uomo, ma di ogni parola che esce dalla bocca di Dio. (Mt 4, 4).- Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Mt 4: 4).
Literally: To put the horns on someone.
English equivalent: Someone has given bad luck.
In English, when you put horns on someone, usually men, it means that you cheat him, which makes him stupid.
In Italian, however, the phrase has no similarity with the English expression.
In cases when you can’t do anything right, and things simply don’t go your way, you can use the phrase ‘per mettere le corna su qualcuno.’ It means that someone sent you bad luck.
So every time something bad happens or your plans don’t work the way they suppose to, you can use this phrase. You can bear it a little easier if you believe in those superstitions.
Ogni cosa che inizio a fare oggi, fallisco. Per mettere le corna su qualcuno.- Every thing I start doing today, I fail. Someone sent me bad luck.
Lietrally: A new broom sweeps.
English equivalent: A new broom sweeps clean./ to make a good first impression.
As funny and amusing as the phrase seems with new brooms, the meaning has nothing to do with them.
The phrase is used when someone is trying to give the first impression or to fit the role perfectly.
When your new colleague is giving his best to show off, he just wants to make a good impression or ‘Spazza una nuova scopa.’ Eventually, like brooms lose their shine and don’t need to sweep every day, your colleague will show off less.
Some also used to say that ‘La scopa nuova spazza bene solo tre giorni’ or in English, ‘The new broom only sweeps well three days.’
Il mio nuovo collega si sta davvero mettendo in mostra.My new colleague is really showing off.
Non preoccuparti. Lui spazza una nuova scopa. Don’t worry, he just wants to make a good first impression.
Literally: Spit out the frog
English equivalent: Don’t beat around the bush.
Of course, you don’t need to literally have the frog out of your mouth, but when you have to say what’s on your mind.
So, figuratively speaking, spit out the frog and just say it!
Allora forza, sputa il rospo.- Well, go on then, spit it out.
Literally: To hold your hands with your own hand
English equivalent: to sit on your hands and do nothing
Body language is essential while saying this phrase. It is used in negative situations.
The phrase is addressed to people who do nothing while others do all the work.
It can also be used in situations when you want to emphasize someone’s bad behavior. When your sibling, for example, comes over for lunch and doesn’t even bring candy to your kids, you can use this phrase.
Non stare lì con le mani in mano, aiutami con questa valigia!- Don’t just stand there! Help me with my luggage!
Even though funny Italian slang is much more amusing, let’s not underestimate the previous expressions.
These Italian phrases are perfect for expanding your vocabulary. Memorizing and using them in appropriate situations among the locals will make you a star of the night. You will also learn a bit more about the Italian culture because phrases like this are true cultural heritage.
Moreover, you will understand what native speakers want to say if they use some of the expressions.
It isn’t the best way to learn Italian but it's the most fun one.
If you find these ones amusing, learn more of them with Italian tutors.
1. Essere Come il Prezzemolo, Literally: To be always in a way like parsley. English equivalent: To be everywhere 2. Ha Ami Da Pesca in Tasca. Literally: He has fish hooks in his pockets. English equivalent: A cheap person. 3. Gettare la Spugna. Literally: To throw in the sponge towel. English equivalent: To give up on someone/ something 4. In Bocca al Lupo. Literally: Into the mouth of the wolf. English equivalent: To break a leg. 5. Non Avere Peli Sulla Lingua! Literally: Without hair on his tongue! English equivalent: Not to mince one’s words.
O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra. Quando il gatto non c'è i topi ballano. La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi. La mamma dei cretini è sempre incinta. Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.
Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto. – Eat well, laugh often, love much.
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