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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Abbiocco’

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

Italian word of the day: 'Abbiocco'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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’. 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.

Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Delusione’

We hope this word doesn't disappoint.

Italian word of the day: 'Delusione'

Experiencing a delusione (deh-loo-zee-OH-neh) in Italian may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t mean you need escorting to the psychiatrist’s chair.

That’s because while delusione may look and sound like its English cousin ‘delusion’, the word actually means something quite different: disappointment.

Disappointment Disappointed GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Food Review GIFs

The two nouns actually have the same root in the Latin dēlūsiō, meaning a deceiving or deluding, and delūdō, meaning to deceive, dupe, or mock.

But while the English ‘delusion’ has hewn close to the original Latin meaning over the centuries, delusione at some point branched off to its current, quite different, definition.

There’s not much in the way of information about exactly when and how that happened, but it’s clearly a short associative hop from feeling ‘deceived’ or ‘duped’ by things turning out differently to what you’d expected to feeling ‘disappointed’.

Che delusione.
How disappointing.

La festa era, purtroppo, una grande delusione.
The party unfortunately was a big disappointment.

Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad Che Delusione No Che Vergogna GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Oh No GIFs

The adjective for ‘disappointed’ is deluso for a single masculine subject, changing to delusa/delusi/deluse if the subject being described is feminine singular/masculine plural/feminine plural.

Era delusa da come era venuta la torta.
She was disappointed with how the cake turned out.

Devo dire che siamo davvero delusi dal fatto che siamo stati trattati in questo modo.
I have to say that we’re very disappointed to have been treated this way.

A word you’ll often see used in combination with deluso/a/i/e is rimanere (ree-man-EH-reh): rimanere deluso.

You might correctly recognise rimanere as meaning ‘to remain’, and wonder why we’d use that word here – but rimanere also has an alternative meaning along the lines of ‘to become’, ‘to get’, or simply ‘to be’.

For example, you can rimanere incinta (get pregnant), or rimanere ferito (get hurt or wounded, for example in a car accident).

It’s also very often used with emotions, usually those experienced in the moment rather than long-term ones: you can rimanere sorpreso (be surprised), rimanere triste (be sad), rimanere scioccato (be shocked)… and rimanere deluso (be disappointed).

Sono rimasto molto deluso quando mi ha detto di aver abbandonato la scuola.
I was very disappointed when she told me she had dropped out of school.

Siamo rimasti delusi dalle condizioni della stanza d’albergo al nostro arrivo.
We were disappointed by the condition of the hotel room when we arrived.

With that, we wish you a weekend free of delusioni (disappointments)!

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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