If you've ever used a computer or phone with settings in Italian, you'll probably see the word scaricare (or some version of it) fairly often. And it's worth understanding all of the possible meanings.
– ci vuole un'ora per scaricare il file
– It takes an hour to download the file
– Hai caricato il programma?
– Have you loaded the program?
– Devi ricaricare il tuo credito
– You need to top up your credit
Caricare means, basically, to “charge” or “load” something. And when you add the negative prefix 's', it becomes scaricare.
Which obviously must mean “unload”… right?
– stanno scaricando il camion
– they're unloading the lorry
But it also means a lot of other things, and these days it's most commonly used to mean “download”, as in:
– scarica l'app oggi
– download the app today
This is why Italians who are studying English often say that they're going to “discharge” an app or some music.
The word actually means a whole load of things that English has separate words for. Here are a few more examples:
– il canale scarica i rifiuti in mare
– the canal deposits the rubbish in the sea
– scaricare un'arma
– to unload a gun
– scaricare le proprie responsabilità su qnalcuno
– to off-load one's responsibilities onto someone
– scaricare la colpa addosso a qnalcuno
– to blame someone else
And figuratively, it can be used to talk about blowing off steam.
– scaricare la tensione
– to unwind
It's pronounced “skah-rih-kah-reh”, with a slight stress on the third syllable.
It also has an adjective form, which I most commonly use like this:
Ho bisogno di caricare il mio telefono. La batteria è scarica.
I need to charge my phone. The battery is flat/dead.
So next time you hear someone use caricare, scaricare, or ricaricare (which can sometimes be used interchangeably with caricare, but not always) listen carefully!
Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.