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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Stufo’

You'll never tire of saying this one.

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

Today’s word is the verbal equivalent of this:

Because you can’t sigh in frustration all the time, Italian has a word for it: stufo (masculine) or stufa (feminine), the feeling of being ‘fed up’ or ‘sick and tired’.

Basta con le chiacchiere inutili, sono stufa!
Enough of this pointless chatter, I’m fed up!

You practically exhale it in exasperation: “stoof-oh”, with the stress on the first syllable.

And to say you’re sick ‘of’ something, just add di + the relevant verb in the infinitive.

Sono stufi di vivere in città.
They’re sick of living in the city. 

Me ne sono andato perché ero stufo di aspettarti.
I left because I was tired of waiting for you.

The adjective comes from the verb stufare, which the cooks among you might have already encountered in your Italian recipe books: in a culinary context, it means ‘to stew’. And you might spot uno stufato on a menu, which refers to the end result: ‘a stew’.


‘Seven rules for cooking a perfect stew that’s practically stew-pendous’: a solid pun from Salepepe.it.

But the verb has also acquired a figurative meaning, namely ‘to bore’ until you’ve really had enough. I like to imagine it as slowly bringing someone to their boiling point.

Mi hanno stufato con le loro continue lamentele.
I’m fed up with their constant moaning.

Mi hai proprio stufato!
I’m sick to death of you!

… Or, for a simpler way to say it, just use stufo/a.

Sei già stufa? 
Are you fed up already?

Sono stufo di te.
I’ve had enough of you.

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

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For members

ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

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

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