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Italian expression of the day: 'Pesce d'Aprile'

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Italian expression of the day: 'Pesce d'Aprile'
Photo: DepositPhotos
10:34 CEST+02:00
We're all being careful not to fall for any April Fool's jokes today - and there's no escape from the pranksters' favourite day of the year in Italy. Here, it just has a cuter name: April Fish.

I imagined that Pesce d'Aprile, or April Fish, came from the idea of “baiting” people or “fishing” for responses with joke articles or announcements and seeing if they'd “bite.”

After all, the Italian verb abboccare means “to bite, or to take the bait” and figuratively it also means “to be fooled, deceived, or taken in,” just like in English. It's rooted in the word bocca, or mouth.

- Ha abboccato e non ha avuto alcun sospetto!

- He fell for it and had no idea!

But no. I'm told the name actually comes from a common joke that involves sticking a drawing of a pesciolino (little fish) onto the back of an unsuspecting victim. Then, everyone else asks if anyone has seen “April's fish” and makes jokes about that person – when, of course, the victim doesn't know it's them.

L'hai visto? (Have you seen him/her?)

Chi? (Who?)

Il pesce d'Aprile! (The April fish!)

Photo: Depositphotos

Although this tradition seems pretty quaint, taping a fish onto someone's back is still something Italian children do.

And Italy isn't the only country to have a fishy April Fools' Day. In France, it's the Poisson d'Avril.

After the fact, Italian media usually reports on and ranks the Miglior Pesce d'Aprile [best April Fools)

So if you're in Italy today and someone tries to wind you up (or tape a fish to your back) you could say:

- Non puoi ingannarmi

- You can't fool me

- Io non ci credo mica

- I don't believe that at all

(Be careful, mica is a tricky word.)

While you're right to be sceptical of everything you read today, I promise I'm not making this whole “fish” thing up in the spirit of April Fools'.


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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