If you've ever studied anatomy in Italian – or just read the right kind of menu – you'll spot a clue inside today's word, sfegatato, which is hiding something you might recognize: fegato, 'liver'.
Fegato is indeed the thing that alcohol damages and the organ considered a delicacy in certain parts of Italy, but it also has a figurative meaning. It represents courage or impudence or both – as we'd say in English, 'nerve', 'cheek' or 'guts'.
She's got guts!
Italian also has a verb, sfegatarsi, that means roughly 'to give your liver' – effectively, 'to slog your guts out' or 'work your ass off'.
Ci siamo sfegatati per lui, ma ne valeva la pena.
We slogged our guts out for him, but it was worth it.
Someone who 'gives their liver', then, is sfegatato: committed, passionate, even fanatical.
You usually see the word used as an adjective, meaning 'keen' or 'passionate' if it's in a positive context, 'rabid' or 'fanatical' if it's negative.
È un giocatore sfegatato.
He's a passionate player.
Era un fascista sfegatato.
He was a rabid fascist.
More rarely, you might see uno sfegatato/una sfegatata used as a noun to describe 'a fanatic'.
Vuoi metterti a polemizzare con quello sfegatato?
Do you really want to argue with this fanatic?
… no one has the liver for that.
Do you have a favourite Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.