Italian word of the day: 'Pacchiano'

Jessica Phelan
Jessica Phelan - [email protected] • 14 Jan, 2020 Updated Tue 14 Jan 2020 18:18 CEST
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This term all comes down to taste.


Whether it's architecture or fashion, Italian style isn't exactly known for being understated.

But as Donatella Versace would argue, there's a difference between extravagant and just... well... tacky. 

Donatella Versace wearing a casual little number. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP

For those who cross the line from good taste to bad, the Italian term is pacchiano: 'tacky', 'garish' or 'vulgar'.

Pronounced "pack-i-yano", it comes from the south of Italy and, according to the dictionary, it was originally reserved for country folk dressed up in their finest colourful peasant costumes. 

In fact una pacchiana (feminine) is sometimes used as a noun for a woman wearing a traditional rural outfit, like in this 'Portrait of a pacchiana' by Italian painter Antonio Sicurezza.

By extension nowadays it has become a derogatory term for anything that's showy, gaudy and perhaps a little provincial, darling

Giulio ha un gusto veramente pacchiano, ma il suo fratello ha stile.
Giulio has extremely vulgar taste, but his brother has style.

Che vestito pacchiano!
What a tacky dress!

It's not a kind thing to call anyone, but sometimes you just have say it like it is. 

Thanks to one of our readers for suggesting today's word. Do you have an Italian phrase you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.



Jessica Phelan 2020/01/14 18:18

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