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Italian expression of the day: ‘Una curiosità’

Italian expression of the day: 'Una curiosità'
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We were just wondering if you knew what this phrase might be used for?

Full of curiosity? Language learners who like to ask questions (politely) will find this phrase useful.

I noticed a new restaurant had opened in town the other day while on a passeggiata in the town centre, and I wondered out loud if it would be open over the weekend, as it was a holiday here in Italy.

My Italian husband, who loves nothing more than stopping strangers in the street to chat, immediately went to ask a nearby person, who may or may not have worked there:

“Una curiosità, il ristorante sarà aperto domani sera?”

Out of curiosity, will the restaurant be open tomorrow?

Italians seem to use the phrase una curiosità’ all the time.

The first time I heard this little expression. I fell in love with it, because it’s perfectly polite without being formal.

Of course it literally translates as “a curiosity,” and can also be used to mean that something is curious.

– Questo libro antico è una vera curiosità

– This antique book is a real curiosity

But for asking questions politely, it’s proven invaluable for me in all kinds of situations; everything from shopping, to interviewing important people at work, or even completing paperwork at the town hall (the ultimate test of patience and politeness.)

– Un'altra domanda, se mi permette una curiosità

– One more question if I may, out of curiosity.

– Una curiosità, avete questo vestito in nero anche?

– Out of curiosity, do you also have this dress in black?

– Una curiosità, sarebbe possibile chiudere la finestra?

– Just wondering, would it be possible to close the window?

– Una curiosità, ho bisogno di completare questa parte del documento?

– Could you tell me, do I need to complete this part of the form?

via GIPHY

We English speakers probably wouldn’t use the phrase ‘Just out of curiosity’ so casually or so often.

Personally, I’d only ever really say it in English if I wanted to make clear that I wasn’t questioning the truth of a statement, and was genuinely just curious to know more.

But as you can see, in Italian it’s a simple way to make your requests more polite in pretty much any situation, formal or informal.

I also like this variation, which means “tell me something,” “let me ask you a question,” or “humour me.”

– Toglimi una curiosità, Davide. Dove hai trovato il libro?

– Tell me something, Davide. Where did you find the book?

So while living in Italy may leave you with a head full of questions, at least you’ll be able to ask them politely.

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


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