Italian expression of the day: 'Fare il filo'

Jessica Phelan
Jessica Phelan - [email protected] • 11 Sep, 2019 Updated Wed 11 Sep 2019 16:50 CEST
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You're sure to fall for this flirtatious phrase.


Many's the foreigner who's come to Italy and fallen in love. Half the other transplants I know in Rome seem to be here for a ragazzo or ragazza. 

But what comes before you pack a bag and up sticks for love? That would be 'making the thread'.

Fare il filo (literally, 'to make the thread') is an expression suggested by one of our Italian readers, who defined it thus: "It means when you like somebody and you would like that person to be your boyfriend or girlfriend, you engage in a series of small actions..."

In other words, flirting.

READ ALSO: How to talk about love, sex and dating in Italian

You fare il filo a qualcuno ('make the thread to someone') when you're pursuing them or wooing them. 

Fa il filo a tutti i ragazzi.
She goes after all the guys.

Sono tre anni che le faccio il filo ma lei non mi considera neanche un po'.
For three years I've been chasing after her but she won't even look at me that way.

I like to imagine it involves casting a fishing line and reeling in the object of your affection (but in a sexy way).

Though I've also heard tell it comes from the image of a spider weaving its web to catch prey (definitely not sexy), that it derives from the Greek word philo ('love'), or that it means wanting to be always by someone's side as if you're tied by thread (sweet, I guess, if inconvenient).

Whichever version you prefer, good luck 'making your thread' – and who knows where it will lead you.

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



Jessica Phelan 2019/09/11 16:50

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