Italian word of the day: ‘Tipo’

This is the kind of word you'll find yourself using all over the place.

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

Today’s word is deceptively simple: tipo. Yes, it means what it sounds like – ‘type’ – but also quite a bit more.

Let’s start with the obvious meaning.

Che tipo di casa cercate?
What type of house are you looking for?

Tipo refers to the ‘sort’ or ‘kind’ something belongs to.

Nei nostri magazzini abbiamo merce di ogni tipo. 
Our shops have all sorts of products.

A me piacciono le scarpe di tipo sportivo.
I like sporty kinds of shoes.

And just like in English, you can say that a person is or isn’t your ‘type’ – i.e., the kind of person you’re interested in.

(Non) è il mio tipo.
He’s (not) my type.

But here’s where tipo gets more interesting than its English homonym. It can also mean ‘guy’ or ‘girl’, a generic term for anyone you wouldn’t necessarily refer to by name.

Ha chiamato il tipo di ieri.
The guy from yesterday called.

Chi è quella tipa che ti sta guardando?
Who’s that girl who’s looking at you?

Depending on the context, un tipo can also be ‘a character’, someone remarkable or perhaps a bit odd.

Sei proprio un bel tipo!
You’re quite the character!

Most ubiquitous of all, in casual speech tipo has come to mean ‘like’: both in the sense of ‘such as’…

Dovresti provare un rimedio naturale, tipo Io zenzero.
You should try a natural remedy, like ginger.

… and as a word that indicates something’s approximate or not quite certain.

C’erano, tipo, venti persone.
There were, like, 20 people.

L’aperitivo comincia tra tipo trenta minuti.
The aperitivo starts in like, thirty minutes.

Just be warned: just like ‘like’, saying tipo is a little bit addictive.

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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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.