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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Giusto’

There so many times when this is just the right word to use.

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

Don't be confused by the spelling: say giusto aloud (“ju-sto”) and you'll hear it sounds a lot like its English equivalent – 'just'.

The similarities don't end there. Giusto serves many of the same functions as 'just', whether it's to say that something 'just' happened in the very recent past…

È partita giusto un attimo fa.
She just left a second ago.

… to say it's 'just right' or 'perfect'…

Sei arrivato al momento giusto.
You came at just the right time.

Il cappello ti sta proprio giusto.
That hat is perfect on you.

… or to say it's 'just' – 'legitimate' or 'fair'.

È un giudice severo ma giusto.
The judge is harsh but just.

Non è giusto! Vince sempre lei.
It's not fair! She always wins.

But there's more to giusto than 'just' a straight translation.

Italian speakers also use it to say that something is not necessarily perfect, just 'correct'. As you'll see below, you can use giusto both as an adjective ('correct') and an adverb ('correctly').

La risposta che hai dato è giusta.
The answer you gave is correct.

Hai risposto giusto.
You answered correctly.

And giusto can also mean 'precise' or 'exact', if you're talking about a certain level of accuracy.

Dimmi l'ora giusta.
Tell me the exact time.

But where giusto comes in most handy is as an affirmation: when you want to agree with what someone has said or show they've understood correctly, you can simply exclaim “Giusto!

– Sei americana?
– Giusto!

– Are you American?
– That's right!

Likewise, you can use it to check you've got something right by asking “Giusto?” at the end of your statement.

Sei americana, giusto?
You're American, right?

You might also say giusto when you've just remembered something you wanted to talk about: a bit like 'Ah yes!' or 'That reminds me!'

Giusto! Volevo chiederti un piacere.
That reminds me! I wanted to ask you a favour.

There's one last way you might hear giusto used: in Italian slang, it means 'cool' or 'great'.

È un tipo troppo giusto.
He's such a great guy.

So many uses for one little word, right? That's why it's so often la parola giusta – 'just the right word'.

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

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Farla franca’

You won't get away with neglecting to learn this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Farla franca'

If you like Italian detective or murder mystery novels, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter the phrase farla franca: to get away with something.

Con Poirot alle calcagna, l’assassino non riuscirà mai a farla franca.
With Poirot on the scent, the killer will never get away with it.

Pensavi davvero di potermi derubare e farla franca?
You really thought you could steal from me and get away with it?

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According to the Treccani dictionary, the expression comes from the bureaucratic use of the adjective franco to mean ‘free’, describing either people that are exempt from carrying out their duties (like off-duty naval officers) or goods that are exempt from tariffs and duties.

One of the first recorded uses of farla franca as a phrase comes from the early 14th century.

The Florentine historian Giovanni Villani wrote that in June 1322, the city of Florence celebrated the Feast of San Giovanni with a big fair, ‘la quale feciono franca‘ for non-citizens – in other words, foreign merchants who came didn’t have to pay the usual taxes.

By the mid-1800s, the expression to mean escaping from some illicit act or risky endeavour without having to pay a penalty. In English (if you were being old-fashioned) you might talk in the same way about someone ‘getting off scot free’.

The la in farla franca is the part of the phrase that stands in for the ‘it’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to fare but can go somewhere else, as long as it’s there.

Non possiamo permettere che la faccia franca.
We can’t let him get away with this.

Pensa di poterla fare franca.
She thinks she can get away with it.

With this phrase now in your repertoire, there’s no telling what you’ll get away with.

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

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