Italian word of the day: ‘Lacrime’

This beautiful Italian word is nothing to get upset about.

Italian word of the day: 'Lacrime'

Any connoisseurs of Italian television will have noticed that the people on it are very often shouting, crying, telling bad jokes, or all three.

Italian TV can be pretty perplexing for non-Italians. Does watching it help improve my language skills? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Sometimes I do manage to pick out the occasional new word or phrase, and today's word is one of them.

Lacrime is a tragically beautiful word that's so very, very Italian. It means “tears”, and ever since I heard it and looked up the meaning, I now seem to hear it surprisingly often.

Of course, you'll hear it most often in dramatic situations.

– mi ha guardato con le lacrime agli occhi

– he looked at me with tears in his eyes

– Non verserò lacrime quando ci separeremo.

– There will be no tears shed when we part.

– Solo le lacrime lavano il sangue

– Only tears can wash the blood away

– Non ci restano che le lacrime.

– It's all over but the crying

– Sono solo lacrime di coccodrillo.

– They're only crocodile tears

The singular is una lacrima, while in lacrime means to be “in tears”. You can also use it as an adjective, meaning tearful or teary.

– quando ha visto la foto è scoppiata in lacrime

– when she saw the photo she burst into tears

– La famiglia sembrava in lacrime

– The family looked tearful

There's even a verb, lacrimare, which can also mean to cry, or to drip, ooze, or water.

In fact, there are quite a few words we can use to talk about crying in Italian. One you might be familiar with is piangere (to cry)

– piangere a calde lacrime

– to cry one's heart out (literally: “to cry hot tears”)

And it can be used to make an ironic or sarcastic comment in Italian:

– mi piange il cuore:

– my heart bleeds (literally “my heart is crying”)


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: ‘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.