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Italian word of the day: 'Meteopatico'

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Italian word of the day: 'Meteopatico'
16:13 CET+01:00
This word might not be in the dictionary, but it could come in useful if the winter weather gets you down.

Deep in the depths of last winter in Tuscany, when the days were short and all I wanted to do was hide under the duvet forever, my slightly exasperated Italian husband looked at me and said ‘tu sei meteopatica.'

From under a pile of blankets, I grumbled: “Is that even a real word?”

And it turns out that the answer is... sort of.

You won't find meteopatico/a/i/he in the dictionary, but everyone still says it.

It's proper, dictionary-listed equivalent is meteoropatico. But, since that's such a mouthful, most people don't actually use it when speaking.

In normal conversation, the shorter meteopatico is more manageable.

When asked for an equivalent word in English, I couldn't think of anything. I thought perhaps my meteopatia had clouded my brain.

But anyone who feels their mood and energy levels suddenly nosedive when grey skies draw in will know exactly what I'm talking about.

In English, we might call it having winter depression (depressione invernale), winter blues or seasonal affective disorder.

When you definitely don't feel like going for a walk. Photo: depositphotos

But in English, we don't say “you're winter depressed” or “seasonally affected”.

We have a lack of specific adjectives. The dictionaries come up with nothing, and Google Translate can't deal with it. One website translates it into English as meteoropathic, but I don't think that's going to cut it in a casual conversation.

I did learn that the word came from the Greek ta meteora (meaning ‘celestial phenomena, things above') and patheia (‘suffering, feeling')

You'll also find it spelt meteropatico, just for added confusion. Tip: they all mean the same thing.

In case you're really interested, here's a very thorough explanation (in Italian) of the different spellings and the etymology of this curious word.

Anyway, it's easy enough to use it in Italian conversation – just as you would any other adjective. Following the verb essere and changing the ending (o/a/i/he) depending on the noun you're describing.

For example:

Francesco è molto meteopatico

Francesco feels really depressed in winter

Se sei meteopatico, una giornata grigia può farti sentire giù di umore

If you have winter depression, a grey day can make you feel down.

It can also be used as a noun:

I meteopatici sono sensibile ai cambiamenti di tempo

People with winter depression are sensitive to changes in the weather.

(Obviously, without a direct adjective equivalent for meteopatico we have to change the sentence structure.)

With winter weather setting in here in Italy, I hope you won't need to use the phrase ‘io sono meteopatico/a' anytime soon!

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