Italian word of the day: ‘Giornataccia’

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

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

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 nine 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 guess.

“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 ‘derogatory suffix’, a curious device that indicates the worsening of something.

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

Which is why giornataccia is perfect for complaining about your day.

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 fact the Italian language has quite a few creative ‘bad day’ expressions.

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!

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

See our complete Word of the Day archive here.

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Italian word of the day: ‘Tirocinio’

Let us offer you some (unpaid) experience with this Italian word.

Italian word of the day: 'Tirocinio'

If you’re entering the world of work in Italy, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll be offered a tirocinio (pronunciation available here). Should you accept?

That all depends on whether you think you’ll get enough benefit (and money – in the unlikely event there is any) out of an internship, which is what this slightly odd-sounding word means.

According to the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s oldest linguistic academy and the guardians of the Italian language, it comes from the Latin word tirocinium, which has two components.

The first part of the word comes from tirone, the name for a recruit to the Roman military (tirare means – among others things – ‘to shoot’ in Italian).

The second, cinium, comes from canere, meaning ‘to sound’ (a horn) or ‘to play’ (music); a tubicinium was a horn or trumpet player.

Joined together, the two words meant something like ‘a rousing of the recruits’, in the sense of an initiation or learning experience. An intern is a tirocinante.

Tirocinio isn’t the only Italian word for internship: you’ll also hear people talk about a stage (pronounced the French way, like this, as it’s borrowed from French); an intern is a stagista.

That’s the title given to Alessandro, one of the main characters in the Italian comedy series Boris, who starts an internship on the set of the medical soap opera Eyes of the Heart 2 and is soon initiated into the bizarre and dysfunctional world of Roman TV production.

Ho dovuto lavorare presso la mia azienda per sei mesi come stagista prima che mi offrissero un lavoro.
I had to work at my company for six months as an intern before they offered me a job.

Domani inizierò il mio tirocinio – auguratemi buona fortuna!
I start my internship tomorrow – wish me luck!

If you do end up working as a tirocinante or stagista, hopefully it will be less surreal and better remunerated than that of Boris’s protagonist.

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