SHARE
COPY LINK

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

LOL: Look at this list of new Italian words

A young child has had his word endorsed by Italy's notoriously purist linguistic academy, while many others are on the waiting list. Take a look at Italian's newest words.

LOL: Look at this list of new Italian words
Photo: Margherita Aurora/Facebook

With its deep literary roots, the Italian language is often celebrated as one of the most beautiful, expressive languages in the world. But there's always room for an update.

Matteo, an Italian boy in his third year at a Ferrara primary school, came up with a new word which has received the seal of approval from Italy's 'language police', the Accademia Crusca, who are responsible for keeping the Italian language pure and compiling the official dictionaries.

The word? 'Petaloso', an adjective meaning 'petalled' . Matteo created the word by combining the noun 'il petalo' (petal) with the suffix 'oso', which is often added to nouns to create a corresponding adjective, for example 'famoso' and 'coraggioso'.

His inspiration struck during a class exercise practising descriptions, when he used it to describe a flower. His teacher, Margherita Aurora, liked the sound of the word so much that she suggested he submit it for evaluation by the Accademia Crusca – who came back with an encouraging reply.

“Dear Matteo,” their letter read. “The word that you’ve invented is a well formed word, and could be used in Italian. Your word is beautiful and clear.” 

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Qualche settimana fa, durante un lavoro sugli aggettivi, un mio alunno ha scritto di un fiore che era “petaloso”. La…

Posted by Margherita Aurora on Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Accademia Crusca explained a similar occurrence, recommending that Aurora and Matteo read Drilla, a children's book by author Andrew Clements. “It tells a story like your own; the story of a child who invents a word and tries to get it added to the vocabulary.”

Aurora said the reply was “worth a thousand Italian lessons,” and thanked her “little inventor, Matteo.”

But 'petaloso' won't be entering the dictionary just yet. The Accademia Crusca explained that to get a word officially accepted, “it must be used and understood by a lot of people”. Since then, hundreds of people have shared the hashtag ‘#petaloso’ to help Matteo and spread the news of his neologism and it was one of the top Twitter trends in Italy on Wednesday morning.

“The day of Umberto Eco's funeral, a child invents a new word. A perfect tribute.”

“Well done to the educational wisdom of the person who didn't underline 'petaloso' in red but wrote to the Accademia Crusca”

The Accademia Crusca is a linguistic institution for scholars, initially founded in the 16th century to establish conformity across a language which at the time was fragmented. They still work to ensure the purity of the Italian language, a task which involves weeding out 'corrupt' words from Italian.

Several other words which have been suggested by Italians are on the ‘waiting list’ to be included in the vocabulary. Many of these are to do with the Internet and social media, while others are hybrids of English and Italian.

Here are some of the best new entries up for consideration:

1. Crashare – A verb to describe a computer crash, replacing the current, less dramatic use of 'bloccarsi' or 'arrestare

2. Photoshoppare – A snappier way of describing photo-editing compared to the cumbersome 'modificare con Photoshop'

3. Apericena – A combination of 'aperitivo' and 'cena' (dinner), often used by students who have aperitivo as a main meal to save money

4. Swag – No attempt has been made to Italianize this loan word, but if it enters the dictionary we might expect to see variants such as 'swaggare' or 'swaggoso'

5. Fangirlare – A verb to describe girls who act obsessively over celebrities

6. Twitteratura – By blending Twitter with 'letteratura' (literature), this noun could describe the more poetic posts on the social network

7. Carpediemoso – Like Matteo's word, this is an adjective created by adding the suffix 'oso'

8. Friendzonnare – 'To put in the friend zone', when someone you are romantically interested in only sees you as a friend

9. Lollare – Italy doesn't have an acronym equivalent to 'Lol', but this  verb

10. Skuoncare – A word for 'skincare', which at the moment is translated in Italian as 'cura della pelle'

11. Monello – A slang term for 'brat'

12. Oleologo – A word to describe a professional olive oil experts, used by self-declared oleologo Luigi Caricato

13. Pentastellato – An adjective to describe anything relating to political party 5 Star Movement

14. Spoilerare – To spoil the plot of a TV show, film or book. The noun form 'lo spoiler' is already popular in colloquial Italian

15. Gengle – A term for single parents which is a hybrid of 'genitori single', and also the name of a social network

16. Furbofono – Unlike most of the words on the list which have English origins, this is a more Italianized version of the noun ‘lo smartphone’

17. Shazzamare – To use the Shazam app to identify a song 

18. Skillato – An Anglicized alternative to 'qualificato' to describe a skilled worker

19. Nasciversario – 'Birthday', coming from the verb 'nascere' (to be born) to avoid confusion – the commonly used term 'anniversario' also means 'anniversary'

20. Bullizzare – 'to bully' from noun 'il bullismo'. Currently there is no corresponding verb, so Italians use paraphrases such as 'prevaricare' (to intimidate) or 'vittimizzare' (to victimize)
 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Qualcosa non torna’

Does this phrase add up to you?

Italian expression of the day: 'Qualcosa non torna'

Ever get the feeling that things aren’t quite right, that perhaps you’re missing something, that something fishy might be going on?

In Italian you can express that with the phrase qualcosa non torna (‘qual-KOH-zah-non-TORR-na’).

Qualcosa you’ll probably recognise as meaning ‘something’, and non of course here means ‘doesn’t’, so the slight wild card for anglophones is the verb torna.

That’s because tornare means ‘to return’ in most contexts – but it can also mean to balance, to add up.

Ho calcolato le spese, il conto torna.
I added up the costs, the bill checks out.

I conti dell’azienda tornano.
The company’s accounts add up.

The Math Seems To Check Out! GIF - The House Will Ferrell The Math Seems To Check Out GIFs

The word can also refer more nebulously to something sounding or feeling right – or not.

Secondo me c’è qualche parte del mio discorso che ancora non torna.
I think there are parts of my speech that still aren’t quite right.

And when something doesn’t torna – that’s when you know things are off. It’s the kind of expression you’re likely to hear in detective shows or true crime podcasts. 

Qualcosa non torna nel loro racconto.
Something about their story’s off.

C’è solo una cosa che non torna.
There’s just one thing that doesn’t add up.

It’s similar to how we can talk in English about someone’s account of an event not ‘squaring’ with the facts, and in fact you can also use that metaphor in Italian – qualcosa non quadra (‘qual-KOH-zah-non-QUAHD-ra’) – to mean the same thing as qualcosa non torna.

Trash Italiano Simona Ventura GIF - Trash Italiano Simona Ventura Qualcosa Non Quadra GIFs

You can adjust either phrase slightly to say ‘things don’t add up’, in the plural: this time you’ll want le cose instead of qualcosa, and to conjugate the tornare or the quadrare in their plural forms.

Ci sono molte cose che non tornano in quest’affare.
There are a lot of things about this affair that don’t add up.

Le loro storie non quadrano.
Their stories don’t square.

You can also add pronouns into the phrase to talk about something seeming off ‘to you’ or anyone else.

La sua storia ti torna?
Does his story add up to you?

C’è qualcosa in tutto questo che non mi torna.
There’s something about all this that doesn’t seem right to me.

alfonso qualcosa non mi torna GIF by Isola dei Famosi

The next time something strange is afoot, you’ll know just how to talk about it in Italian. Montalbano, move aside…

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

SHOW COMMENTS