Persino is one of those words I find myself looking up again and again, seemingly unable to make it stick.
It doesn’t help that it also goes by an alias: perfino, which means exactly the same thing – ‘even’.
Despite my blindspot, the two are actually quite straightforward. You say perfino or persino when you want to highlight something unexpected or unlikely.
Ha girato mezzo mondo ed è stata perfino al Polo Nord.
She’s travelled half the world and even been to the North Pole.
Persino sua moglie non è d’accordo.
Even his wife doesn’t agree.
Mi viene la pelle d’oca persino a pensarci.
I get goosebumps only thinking about it.
Perfino un bambino lo saprebbe fare.
Even (just) a child can do it.
Perhaps what throws me off is the fino part, which usually means ‘until’ or ‘up to’. But – and here’s what I really should memorize – fino can also be an emphatic ‘even’.
It’s more unusual, but you sometimes see it used this way with troppo (‘too much’) to imply that something’s happened ‘far too much’ or ‘all too well’. NB: you drop the final ‘o’ in this construction, just because it sounds better.
Sono stato fin troppo buono.
I was even too good (or: far too good).
Hai detto fin troppo.
You’ve said quite enough (or: all too much).
The parts of the puzzle all start coming together when you learn that sino is another word for fino, albeit a less common one (and if you want to get stuck a dictionary loop, trying looking all these terms up in and finding “sino: see fino”, only to be told “fino: see sino”).
So perfino or persino, which to go for? That’s entirely up to you: the two really are interchangeable, though my repeated Googlings turn up more results for persino than perfino.
Un giorno ce la farò persino io!
One day even I will manage it!
Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.