Italian word of the day: ‘Fatto’

Here's a useful word that you'll hear all the time in Italy.

As a noun, fatto means what it sounds like: “fact”.But that's far from the only, or even the most common way to use this word.
It's also an adjective and a past participle, as well as part of lots of idiomatic expressions. So you'll have to listen closely to understand which fatto Italian speakers are using.
It's the past participle of the verb fare, whch means “to do”, but can also mean to have, build, make,  cook, and various ther verbs.– ha fatto la mia felicità

– he made me so happy

– Ho fatto una torta

– I made a cake

– hai fatto la stanza?

– have you cleaned the room?

You might see it in the common phrase fatto a mano (hand-made) or fatto in casa (home-made.)

It's very often used figuratively, which can be harder for non-Italians to work out.

– sono fatto così

– that's how I am/I'm like that

– è ben fatta

– she has a nice figure

– a giorno fatto

– in broad daylight

– è completamente fatto

– he's completely drunk/stoned (literally: “he's done”)

– è fatta! 

– that's it!/I've done it!

And when just used by itself, fatto simply means “done!”

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Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

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