Language and culture For Members

Italian word of the day: 'Raffreddato'

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected] • 7 Nov, 2019 Updated Thu 7 Nov 2019 14:33 CEST
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Feeling a chill this autumn? Here's a word you can't get by without.


Italians are famously cautious about getting "hit by air", and for dressing for an Arctic winter before the first autumn leaves have fallen from the trees.

But no matter how well you wrap up, or how careful you are about staying away from open doors and air conditioning units, sadly you're bound to catch the occasional sniffle.

And when that happens, your Italian friends and relatives will no doubt be very concerned and want to discuss it with you at length.

I went through this myself this week after catching a slight cold, and can confirm that today's word is the one you'll find yourself using a lot when faced with the barrage of questions about how, when, and where you caught it - and the endless discussion about which foods will get rid of it quickest.

- sono raffreddato/a

- I've got a cold

As you can see, raffreddato is an adjective. It comes from the noun raffreddore, which means "a cold", and while you can also say:

- ho il raffreddore

- I've got a cold

I seem to hear sono raffreddato/a used much more often by Italians.

Perhaps because, somehow, using the adjective to describe yourself like this seems to emphasise your symptoms, and the fact that you're being affected by it. And that you're suffering.

- Scusa, sono un po' raffreddata.

- Sorry, I'm a little stuffed up.

And while my British sensibilities prompted me to automatically tell everyone I was fine and ask them to stop fussing, my Italian family members were having absolutely none of it, instead saying things like:

- Che brutto raffreddore è questo! Che sofferenza!

- What a bad cold this is! What suffering!

If things are worse, you might need:

- Ho l'influenza

- I have the flu

And even if your symptoms are milder, there's still a fair chance that an Italian family member will either drag you to the doctor's office, or go to the pharmacist on your behalf and get the pharmacist to speak to you on the phone. Phrases that might help in such situations include:

- Ho una tosse e un raffreddore.

- I've got a cough and a cold

- Ho mal di testa e naso chiuso.

- I've got a headache and a blocked nose

And you can even use this adjective to describe other things that have "gone cold" - although we're not sure how often you'll actually hear it used like this.

- le tracce si sono raffreddate qualche settimana fa.

- the trail went cold a few weeks ago.

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



Clare Speak 2019/11/07 14:33

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