Today's word was suggested by one of our readers, who tells us: “Every time I hear caspita I smile.”
We're inclined to agree. Caspita! Caspita! CASPITA! Try it.
Fun to say (or shout), but what does it mean? Put very simply: 'gosh'.
Like that word, caspita is a polite euphemism for a stronger term. Along with cavolo, it stands in for cazzo – 'dick' or 'shit'. And just like when you say 'gosh', 'golly' or 'gee' instead of 'God' or 'Jesus', by today's standards it sounds very mild, even a little twee.
But we think it's rather charming. And undeniably versatile: according to the dictionary, caspita can express “wonder, sometimes impatience and mild resentment”.
So whether you're delighted, disappointed or just surprised, caspita is an exclamation you can use without fear of giving anyone offence.
Caspita, che bel panorama!
Gosh, what a beautiful view!
Caspita, stai attento a quel che fai!
For goodness' sake, pay attention to what you’re doing!
Enjoy the dulcet tones of Toto Cutugno (better known for L'Italiano) singing his minor hit Caspita, about a summer romance.
There are few variations: if you're feeling adventurous you can go for caspiterina, which means just the same but takes a little longer to say; or you can add e che… beforehand for an exasperated touch.
Che caspita di… means 'what a…', while col caspita is something like 'my foot!' or 'like hell!' – a defiant way of contradicting what's just been said.
Che caspita di prezzi!
What a price! (or: how expensive)
Ci vengo? Col cazzo.
Am I coming? Like hell I am.
So, for the benefit of that reader who smiles each time he hears the word, here's Italian rapper Tedua saying “Col caspita!” on a loop for ten minutes. Looks like you're not the only one who enjoys it!
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.