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Italian Word of The Day Supported by: Fluente logo For Members

Italian word of the day: 'Abbiocco'

Jessica Phelan
Jessica Phelan - [email protected]
Italian word of the day: 'Abbiocco'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This word describes a common affliction that almost any visitor to Italy will have experienced.

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I bet you'll be familiar with what this word describes, even if you've never heard it before.

There's no exact equivalent in English, but you can probably see why it exists in Italian: l'abbiocco (pronounced "ab-byok-ko") is a need to lie down, especially the one that strikes after eating and drinking heartily.

It's defined by various dictionaries as a 'fit of drowsiness', 'desire to fall asleep', 'giving way to tiredness' or – my favourite – 'sleep stroke'.

And while it's not limited to eating-induced tiredness, that's how it's usually applied. Our closest English translation in this context might be 'food coma'.

Dopo pranzo m'è preso un abbiocco tremendo.
After lunch I fell into a real food coma.

La pasta mi fa venire l'abbiocco.
Pasta makes me sleepy.

It comes from a verb born in central Italy that has largely fallen out of use: abbioccarsi, 'to collapse with exhaustion'.

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While you'll almost certainly never hear an Italian say "io m'abbiocco", you might hear them describe themselves as abbioccato/a – 'half asleep', 'wiped out' – for reasons edible or otherwise.

Sono abbioccato duro.
I'm knackered.

When this feeling strikes, it's time for a pennichèlla.

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