Language and culture For Members

Italian word of the day: 'Paturnie'

Jessica Phelan
Jessica Phelan - [email protected] • 4 Oct, 2021 Updated Mon 4 Oct 2021 10:16 CEST
image alt text

When life gets you down... learn the word for it.


You know those days when nothing feels quite right? 

You've got le paturnie: 'the blues', or as Holly Golightly would put it, 'the mean reds'. 

It's a kind of melancholy or anxiety or irritableness or all of the above, provoked by something you can't quite put your finger on.

Ogni tanto mi vengono le paturnie.
Every so often I get the blues.

The origins of the word aren't clear, but one theory is that it comes from a Latin expression meaning patire le saturnie ('to endure the influences of Saturn'), from the days when the planets were believed to exercise influence over people's moods.

The implication is that le paturnie appear and disappear the way the sun rises and sets – with very little you can do about it. 


If you're thus afflicted you say you 'have' the blues: avere le paturnie.

Che c'hai le paturnie?
What's up with you, got the blues?

The only cure is waiting for your stars to align more favourably - though perhaps you can hurry them along with a generous plate of pasta and glass of wine to match.

Unless, of course, Breakfast at Tiffany's is an option.

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



Jessica Phelan 2021/10/04 10:16

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also