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Italian word of the day: 'Occhio'

The Local Italy
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Italian word of the day: 'Occhio'
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Watch out for this one.


We all know that Italy's got a lot to look at. Today's word will help you focus on the sights that are more urgent than others.

Occhio (pronounced "ock-kio"), as you may know already, means 'eye'. And just like in English, there's a whole host of expressions related to it.

Eagle-eyed? In Italian, you have the 'eye of a lynx' (occhio di lince). Something's so ugly it's an eyesore? Italians call it a 'punch in the eye' (pugno in un occhio). And while we say something exorbitant costs an arm and a leg, Italians are more concerned about paying 'an eye from the head' (un occhio della testa).

But here we'll focus on one of occhio's simplest – and most practical – uses: as a way to say 'watch out'.

The text book way to say that is stai attento, or just attento. But in Italy you'll also hear people let loose a warning "Occhio!" when they want you to keep your eyes peeled.

They might specify what exactly you need to watch...

Occhio al cane, rallenta!
Look out for the dog, slow down! 

Occhio alla borsa, la metro è piena di borseggiatori.
Watch your bag, the underground is full of pickpockets.

... or they might simply mime it, by pulling down the lower lid of one eye with a finger and staring you meaningfully. (Regular readers will remember that you can use also the same gesture to signal that someone is furbo – 'sly' or 'cunning' – in which case we'd advise you to keep an eye on them too.)

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


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