Italian word of the day: ‘Impegno’

Italian word of the day: 'Impegno'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Clear your schedule and commit to learning this word today.

Today’s word is extremely useful if you ever find yourself double-booked in Italy (or if you just need a polite excuse to turn down that invitation to another five-hour lunch at the in-laws’).

Un impegno is ‘a commitment’ or ‘an engagement’ – something you have to do.

Domani non posso, ho un impegno.
I can’t tomorrow, I have a commitment.

It’s a common way to refer to appointments and other chores, but it also means ‘commitment’ in its broader sense of a kind of promise.

È importante non assumere impegni che sono impossibili da realizzare.
It’s important not to make commitments that can’t be delivered.

The word comes from the Latin word pignus, meaning ‘pledge’ or ‘stake’, like the collateral you’d put up for a loan. So more figuratively, it’s like a guarantee you’ll do something.

The verb impegnarsi (‘to commit oneself’) is therefore a way of saying you’re making a solemn promise.

Si è impegnata a sposarlo.
She committed to marry him.

By extension, it implies a certain amount of dedication. Impegnarsi can also mean ‘to make an effort’ or ‘to work hard’.

L’hanno promossa perché si è impegnata.
They promoted her because she worked hard.

Likewise if you act con impegno (‘with commitment’), you’re showing diligence or dedication.

Devi studiare con impegno per laurearsi.
You have to study diligently in order to graduate.

If you’re senza impegno (literally, ‘without commitment’), on the other hand, it means you’re under ‘no obligation’ or you’re ‘not making any promises’.

Gli apparecchi si provano anche a domicilio, senza impegno da parte del cliente.
The appliances can be tried out at home, with no obligation on the client’s part.

– Ti andrebbe di andare al cinema sabato?
– Sì, ma senza impegno perché ho tanti compiti da fare.

– Do you fancy going to the cinema on Saturday?
– Yeah, but no promises because I have a lot of homework to do.

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

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