Italian word of the day: ‘Scaricare’

Top up your Italian knowledge with this veratile verb.

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

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.




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Italian word of the day: ‘Scarabocchio’

Can you fathom the meaning of this word?

Italian word of the day: ‘Scarabocchio’

If you haven’t yet found a proper Italian word to describe the unintelligible collection of dots, wonky lines and swirls that Italian doctors often nonchalantly passes off as a prescription, scarabocchio might do the trick.

Scarabocchio is the Italian equivalent of ‘scribble’ or ‘scrawl’ and it describes to any piece of writing or drawing whose meaning can’t be fathomed. 

Ho lasciato la lista della spesa sul tavolo!

Si, l’ho vista ma non ci ho capito niente. Era tutto uno scarabocchio…

I left the shopping list on the table!

Yes, I saw it but couldn’t understand any of it. It was all a scribble…

From a five-year-old’s abstract artworks to a colleague’s poor excuse for a handwritten note, you can use scarabocchio for pretty much anything – as long as it figures on a piece of paper. 

Though it is a bit of a mouthful (pronunciation available here), Italians love to use the word in daily conversations, especially so when it comes to mocking the unfortunate author of the scribble. 

Ti ho fatto uno schema per farti capire meglio.

Ma cos’e’ ‘sta cosa? Mi sembra proprio uno scarabocchio…

I’ve drawn a diagram to help you understand.

What on earth is this? It looks like a scrawl to me…

The word comes from the fusion of scarabeo (beetle) and the pejorative suffix -occhio (also used in ranocchio, meaning ‘ugly frog’, and marmocchio, meaning ‘bratty kid’). 

Though today’s scribbles may not resemble the shape of a beetle, they most likely did back in the days when poor handwriting skills would result in your quill creating circular blots of ink on the paper.

That’s why, to this day, Italians refer to scribbles as ‘ugly beetles’. 

Funnily enough, sgorbio, one of scarabocchio’s synonyms, also takes its name from an animal, namely the scorpion. But that’s a story for another time.

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