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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Caspita’

Gosh, this is a fun one.

Italian word of the day: 'Caspita'
Photo: DepositPhotos

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.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

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.

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