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Italian expression of the day: ‘In giro’

Italian expression of the day: 'In giro'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
We're not joking when we say you need to learn this Italian phrase.

Today’s phrase is one that you’ll hear often in Italian conversation, but you’ll need to listen carefully to understand the meaning.

You can probably guess that the word giro, from the Ancient Greek gûros, meaning “circle”, has something to do with turning or moving around.

The Italian noun giro translates literally as a turn, rotation, or some kind of circle or circumference.

– Il giro di chiave

– The turn of a key

– il giro della Terra

– The rotation of the Earth

– il giro delle mura

– The city walls

It can also refer to a tour or circuit – see Il Giro d’Italia.

You’ll also hear it used within noun phrases such as un giro di parole (a turn of phrase, or a manner of speaking) or il giro d’affari, the turnover of a business.

In spoke Italian you’re very likely to hear the common phrase in giro, which means “around” or “about”. This is used in all sorts of ways.

It’s most often used after a verb, for example:

Andare in giro means to wander about or walk around, while fare in giro usually means taking a trip or going for a drive.

– Abbiamo fatto un giro attorno al castello

– We took a walk around the castle

– Mi fai fare un giro sul tuo motore?

– Will you take me for a ride on your motorbike?

Just like in English, you can also use being “taken for a ride” figuratively to mean being misled or made a fool of.

– Me stai prendendo in giro

– You’re making fun of me

Similarly, presa in giro is also used to mean a joke.

– è stata una grande presa in giro

– It was all a big joke.

That’s why you’ll have to listen so carefully to understand what the speaker means when using this common phrase. Sometimes learning Italian really is no joke!

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


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