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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Ammartaggio’

You may see this word in the Italian news today. Here's what it means and where it came from.

Italian word of the day: 'Ammartaggio'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

We've chosen today's word in honour of the successful landing of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance. You may have seen it in the Italian headlines:

Italian has a curious word for a ‘mars landing’ which isn’t just a compound noun: ammartaggio.

– Un ammartaggio perfetto

– A perfect Mars landing

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

The Mars version is derived from Marte, the Italian name for Mars, and the first usage is attributed to a news report in La Stampa in July 1976.

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.

You can also say l'atterraggio di Marte (literally: the landing on Mars).

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 arriving at 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 us with your suggestion.

Member comments

  1. It seems I have not been receiving vocabulary words regularly so now I have just rec’ed molte.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Quanto meno’

At least give this Italian word a try.

Italian word of the day: 'Quanto meno'

Here’s a useful adverb to have on hand when practicing your conversational Italian: quanto meno.

It can be used in a couple of different ways, but most commonly means ‘at least’.

We’re calling this a word rather than an expression because although ‘quanto meno’ is slightly more common in contemporary Italian, it can equally be written as ‘quantomeno’.

In many contexts, quanto meno and almeno are effectively synonyms. The only difference is that almeno simply means ‘at least’, while quanto meno sometimes implies a more emphatic ‘at the very least’ or ‘as a minimum’.

Mi potevi almeno accompagnare alla stazione.
You could have at least accompanied me to the station.

Se avessi saputo prima avrei potuto quanto meno darvi una mano.
If I had known earlier I would have at least been able to give you a hand.

Il traffico sulla strada per Como è stato tremendo.
Quanto meno avete avuto bel tempo.

The traffic on the way to Como was terrible.
– At least you had good weather.

At Least You Tried Trash GIF - At Least You Tried Trash Bart Simpson GIFs

In other situations, however, quanto meno takes on a different meaning, becoming ‘to say the least’:

I suoi piani sono quanto meno avventurosi.
Her plans are adventurous to say the least.

I risultati sono preoccupanti, quanto meno.
The results are disturbing, to say the least.

There’s a third word that’s another synonym for ‘at least’: perlomeno. You’ll sometimes see it separated out into three words: per lo meno. Again, it can often be used more or less interchangeably with almeno.

Vorrei prendere perlomeno una settimana di vacanza quest’estate.
I want to take at least one week off this summer.

Perlomeno and quanto meno can also both mean something like ‘at any rate’.

Non verrebbe mai a trovarmi a casa, perlomeno.
She would never come to visit me at home, in any event.

Sei molto più in forma di me, quanto meno.
You’re in much better shape than me, at any rate.

None of these are to be confused with the quite different tanto meno, which means ‘much less’:

Non ho mai incontrato Laura, tanto meno sua sorella.
I’ve never met Laura, much less her sister.

Può a mala pena dirlo, tanto meno farlo.
He can barely say it, much less do it.

Got all that? Now see if you can fit quanto menoperlomeno and almeno into at least one conversation this week.

See our complete Word of the Day archive here. Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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