Italian word of the day: ‘Approfittare’

You should take advantage of this chance to learn a very useful Italian word.

Italian word of the day: 'Approfittare'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you had to guess the meaning of today’s word in English, you might say “profit”. And that is almost what it means.

Approfittare has the same Latin root, but as is so often the case, the meaning has shifted a little over time. The modern Italian word can mean “make the most of”, “take advantage of”, “profit from” or “exploit” – becoming darker depending on the context.

– Devo approfittare del silenzio per leggere un libro

– I should take advantage of the silence to read a book

– approfittiamo della bella giornata e andiamo al parco

– Let’s make the most of this nice day and go to the park

– non si deve approfittare della buone fede altrui

– one should not take advantage of the good faith of others

– Ha approfittato della sventura degli altri

– He profited from the misfortune of others

That person who takes advantage of others could be called an approfittatore: an “exploiter” or “opportunist”.

And there’s also an imperative phrase, which is perfect for the last day of an Italian holiday:


– make the most of it!

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

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Italian expression of the day: ‘A meno che’

You might want some help mastering this phrase, unless your Italian is already advanced.

Italian expression of the day: 'A meno che'

It’s always helpful to have a little caveat up your sleeve when making plans – just in case something crops up and you need to change course.

In English, there’s a pretty simple way to express this idea: we just use the word ‘unless’ followed by the present simple.

Italian, however, is a bit more complicated. We need to add a non after a meno che – something that can trip up anglophones – and then follow this with a subjunctive, since we’re talking about a hypothetical situation.

Potremmo andare a fare un giro in bicicletta, a meno che tu non abbia da fare?
We could go for a bike ride, unless you’re busy?

La festa si terrà all’aperto, a meno che non piova.
She’ll have the party outdoors unless it rains.

To wrap your head around this addition of a negative, it can help to think of the Italian translation less as “unless XYZ is the case” so much as something along the lines of “as long as XYZ weren’t the case.”

A meno che is the most common variant you’ll hear, but if you want to mix things up a bit, you could instead use any of salvo che, tranne che, or eccetto che.

Il rimborso sarà effettuato entro 24 ore, signora, salvo che Lei non cambi idea prima di allora.
The refund will be processed within 24 hours, madam, unless you change your mind before then.

L’intervento chirurgico non è necessario, tranne che i sintomi non causino dolore.
Surgery isn’t necessary unless the symptoms are causing you any pain.

Unless you’ve been watching TV throughout this explainer, we’re sure you’ll be confidently using a meno che and its equivalents in no time.

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