Do you know the meaning of Italy's top 15 words of the year?

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Do you know the meaning of Italy's top 15 words of the year?
Why are Italians dressing as fish? One of these words explains it. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

An annual vote in an Italian newspaper has shortlisted 15 of the "most representative" words from the news in 2019. Do you know what all these words mean, and why they're on the list?


Every year, Italian daily La Repubblica holds the vote to find the word that best sums up the last 12 months. The shortlist for 2019 is a curious read, not least because some of the words included are English.

Do you know what all of these words mean, and which of the year's news stories they relate to? If you've been reading The Local this year, you'll probably know them all.

Scroll down for the answers, and for the link to vote for your favourite.

La Repubblica's top 15 words of 2019:

  1. allunaggio
  2. capitana
  3. dazio
  4. influencer
  5. infrazione
  6. minibot
  7. moscopoli
  8. quota 100
  9. reddito di cittadinanza
  10. sardina
  11. gilet giallo
  12. greenager
  13. scudo penale
  14. spazzacorrotti
  15. sugar tax


We don't know if this is one of the most representative, but this Italian word is very pleasing to say. It means "moon landing", and made the list thanks to the 50th anniversary this year.

The word is of course derived from luna, the Italian word for moon. Even more pleasingly, there's a similar construction for ammartaggio (mars landing) and atterraggio, which simply means "landing" – sulla terra, or on earth.


The feminine version of "the captain" was put forward in reference to migrant rescue ship captain Carola Rackete, who made headlines after a showdown with Italy's former interior minister Matteo Salvini earlier this year over his "closed ports" policy. Interestingly enough, Salvini also refers to himself as "Il Capitano".

Photo: AFP


Everyone in Italy and the US (as well as across Europe) has been talking about import duties this year after US President Donald Trump slapped a hefty extra tariff, or dazio, on many Made in Italy products. The charge presents a big problem for Italy's cheese makers, though Italian wines have so far been spared.

READ ALSO: Parmigiano takes a hit as Trump's Italian cheese tariffs kick in


This fashionable English word is inceasingly used in Italy to describe the country's social media celebrities. A typical Italian dad joke involves conflating it with the Italian word influenza (meaning "flu").

READ ALSO: Ten English words that make you sound cool in Italian

Reddito di cittadinanza

It's not the catchiest phrase but it has had a huge impact in Italy this year. 2019 was the year Italy introduced the reddito di cittadinanza, or "citizens' income" scheme, aimed at ending poverty for millions of people. Though it's often mistaken for a form of universal basic income, it's more like the unemployment benefit systems used in many other European countries.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Quota 100

Another term that dominated Italian news earlier this year, and another life-changing policy for many Italians: the quota 100 pension reforms, a flagship policy of the Five Star Movement along with the reddito di cittadinanza, came into force this year.


Since November, la sardina, or the sardine, has come to represent the thousands of protesters packing themselves into Italian squares to protest against the far right and "politics of hate" in Italy. 

READ ALSO: 'Enough hate': Who are the protesting 'Sardines' packing into Italian squares?

Gilet giallo

The Italian for gilets jaunes, France's yellow-jacketed protesters, also made the list. La Repubblica writes that they represent the "winds of rebellion blown by the new populist movements" in Europe, including "the pink vests of women fighting for gender equality" and "the orange vests of Puglia's farmers, Eastern European truckers, or of Genoese who clamored to be compensated after the collapse of the Morandi bridge."


This portmanteau of English words, used to describe teenage climate activists or any young person concerned about the environment, is probably more commonly heard in Italy than in English-speaking countries. It's been seen in the Italian news a lot since the Fridays for Future climate protests took off this year, and its inclusion in the list highlights a growing awareness of environmental issues in Italy.

Photo: AFP


This word means "infringement", and it's one you'll see in the Italian news all the time. This year, it's been mostly used to report on Italy "infringing" various EU rules.


This word has been all over the Italian news since the government pondered the idea of introducing a new currency in the hope it would solve Italy's financial woes. 

READ ALSO: Why is Italy talking about introducing another currency?


The word used by Italian media to discuss one of the year's biggest Italian political news stories: the simmering scandal that broke this year over allegations that the far-right League party dscussed taking covert payments from Russian officials to fund its election campaigning.

Scudo penale

This phrase, meaning "criminal sheld", has been in the news a lot in 2019 in relation to the ongoing crisis at southern Italy's highly polluting ArcelorMittal steelworks. It refers to a law meaning that former management are exempt from criminal liability over pollution from the plant.

READ ALSO: Readers' picks: 19 of your favourite articles about Italy from 2019


Roughtly translating as "corruption sweep", this new law introduced at the beginning of 2019 aims to tackle Italy's well-known problems with politicial corruption, and has since been the subject of endless discussion.

Sugar Tax

One of several new taxes introduced in Italy's latest budget (and inexplicably given English names). The planned tax on sugary foods hit the headlines, particularly after some opposition politicians told Italian voters the government was "trying to take away your snacks".

Have you chosen your favourite? You can cast your vote here.


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