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Italian word of the day: 'Addosso'

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Italian word of the day: 'Addosso'
Photo: DepositPhotos
16:23 CEST+02:00
The time has come to use this very expressive word.

Summer is very much here in Italy, and if you're really feeling the heat you could say:

- L'estate addosso
- Summer is upon us

This phrase is perfect because, as Italian singer Jovanotti shows us in the song L'estate addosso, it's not just about the changing of the seasons.

In the song he’s also describing the weight (and heat) of summer being “on top of” him. You could even say he feels it weighing on his shoulders or his back.

Addosso is a particularly expressive preposition that has no direct translation into English.

It can mean on top of, or next to - close enough to be breathing down your neck. It can even mean that you feel something inside your body.

It can be used to mean something is close in terms of either space or time.

And it can be used literally, or in a more abstract way.

- Gli è caduto l'albero addosso.
- The tree fell on top of him.

- Ogni tanto, questa cattiva esperienza me la sento ancora addosso.

- Now and again, I can still feel this bad experience inside of me.

This slightly peculiar word comes from dosso, a rather outdated term for the back, or spine. Dosso today might be used to talk about small hills or bumps in the road.

But more usually, dosso is used along with a preposition to be transformed into a compound preposition or adverb, like addosso.

There's also di dosso, which is kind of the opposite. It literally means “off your back” but is most often used to mean “to remove”, much like the verb togliere.

- Me lo sono levato di dosso.
- I got rid of it (literally: I got it off my back.)

- Toglimi le mani di dosso.
- Take your hands off me.

There's a related verb, addossare, which isn’t very common in normal conversation, but means something like "to lay on", or "to lean on". It’s used when talking about blame or responsibility:

- addossare la colpa
- to lay the blame

And there's also indossare, a verb meaning “to put on” - literally “to put on one’s back”.

- Lei ha indossato il vestito

- She put the dress on

When you consider the meanings of these related words, it becomes easy to see exactly what Jovanotti means about summer “weighing” on him.

And if you're experiencing Italy's heatwave at the moment, you'll know exactly what he's talking about anyway.

 
Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.
 

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