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Italian word of the day: 'Ammartaggio'

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Italian word of the day: 'Ammartaggio'
16:16 CET+01:00
Today's word is especially for the space nerds among us.

We've chosen today's word in honour of the NASA Insight probe's successful landing on Mars this week, after a journey of 480 million kilometres, taking six and a half months.

And there was an Italian contribution. Insight was guided by the Italian 'bussolĂ ', a space tracker built by Italian company Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica.)

As the first reports of Insight's successful landing came in, here in Italy we also learned that Italian has a curious word for a ‘mars landing' which isn't just a compound noun: ammartaggio.

Un ammartaggio perfetto

A perfect Mars landing

You can also say l'atterraggio di Marte (literally: the landing on Mars) but we think ammartaggio is so much catchier.

The word is derived from Marte, the Italian name for Mars, and its first use is attributed to a report in La Stampa in July 1976.

Italian also has the noun allunaggio which, as you might be able to guess, is a moon landing.

Credevo avessi detto che il primo allunaggio era un falso

I thought you said the first moon landing was fake.

While the word ammartaggio will probably have very limited practical usage in your everyday life (unless you happen to work for NASA) it's still helpful to know about this Italian construction.

It comes from the much more commonly-used word atterraggio, which simply means landing – sulla terra, or on earth.

Following this logic you could presumably come up with words to mean landing on pretty much anything - although I'm told that aggiovaggio (Jupiter landing) is definitely not a real word.


If you wanted to use verbs instead to talk about landing on Mars, the Moon, or anything else, you'd say atterrare (to land)

Vogliamo atterrare sulla Luna

We want to land on the moon

Siamo atterrati tardi la scorsa note

We landed late last night

And instead of saying “making a descent” or “coming in to land,” you'd say facendo le manovre di atterraggio, literally: “doing the landing manoeuvres”

Abbiamo appena iniziato le manovre di atterraggio a Roma

We've just begun our descent into Rome.

So whether you're dreaming of exploring outer space or just on your way to Rome Fiumicino, we hope you'll now feel a little more confident talking about it in Italian.

Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

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