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Italian word of the day: 'Giornataccia'

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Italian word of the day: 'Giornataccia'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Had a bad day? If you want to talk about it, this word is here for you.


Do you ever have those days where nothing seems to go right? Those days when you wish you’d just stayed in bed? (And I’m not just talking about Mondays.)

The kind of day where you forget your keys, spill coffee down your shirt, and miss the train - all before it’s even eight o’clock - and things just go downhill from there.

That’s what today’s word is all about.

What do Italians say when they’ve had the day from hell? Well, quite a lot, as you can probably imagine.

“Bad day” translates as brutta giornata. So you could say:

Ho avuto una brutta giornata.
I’ve had a bad day.

And that does the job. But I think the word giornataccia is much more expressive.

È stata una giornataccia a lavoro.
It was a bad day at work.

So what’s the ~taccia part of this word all about? (Nope, it doesn’t mean ‘bad’.)

This is the suffisso peggiorativo, or ‘pejorative suffix’, a curious linguistic device that indicates the worsening of something.

The most common such suffixes are ~accio and ~astro. When added on to the end of a noun, adjective or adverb they mean that something has got worse, gone wrong, or is otherwise just no good at all.


In this case, una giornataccia is a day that has gone from bad to worse.

Che giornataccia, da non credere!
You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had!

Che giornataccia è stata.
What a terrible day this has been.

Dio, che giornataccia!
God, what a day!

In case you feel this word doesn't fully capture the complete awfulness of your day, the Italian language has a few other creative ways to express just how bad a time you're having:

Sto vivendo un incubo! 
I’m having an awful day. (This typically understated Italian phrase literally translates as “I’m living a nightmare!”)

Non vedo l’ora che finisca questa giornata storta!
I can’t wait until this bad day ends!

And when nothing else will cut it:

Questa è veramente una giornata di merda! 
This is a really shitty day!

When everything else seems to be going wrong in life, at least your Italian language skills will be on point.

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