Italian word of the day: ‘Movida’

Today's word isn't really Italian, but here's how Italians use it.

Italian word of the day: 'Movida'
Photo: DepositPhotos

Movida is a word we've been seeing in a lot of Italian newspaper headlines this week, amid all the reports of large crowds outside bars after they were allowed to reopen. 

If you thought it was a Spanish word, you'd be right. It was initially borrowed by Italians to describe the late-night partying going on across the Mediterranean in the 80s.

Dictionaries say the term movida was first coined in 1980s Spain to describe the resurgence of the country's cultural and social life after the fall of Franco's regime. In Spanish, it means “movement, happening, affair, or gathering.”

Soon after, the word was adopted by Italians and “used jokingly to describe the evening and night life of a city, with specific reference to that of the Spanish cities, known for being lively until the early hours”.

Of course, Italians aren't exactly known for their early bedtimes either, especially in summer. And today la movida has also come to describe the way people here spend warm summer nights outdoors.

The term hints at drinking and partying. But it's also used to describe any sort of gathering – usually of young people meeting up with friends at the piazza (square) or lungomare (seafront), often in large groups, maybe for a drink, a walk around town, or just to stand and chat. 

It's not the same thing as the passeggiata, the leisurely evening stroll which may or may not include stopping for an aperitivo, and which has somewhat more elegant connotations. That word is also used seriously in normal conversations, while movida usually isn't.

The word isn't unusual, and you'll be understood by Italians if you use it – but it's not one you'll hear much in everyday conversation.

It's a somewhat retro term – which Italian friends tell me is usually used ironically, perhaps by their parents, but most often by Italian newspaper editors.

So if you attempt to drop this word into your next Italian conversation, remember you'll need a big dollop of irony to go with it

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

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Italian word of the day: ‘Inciucio’

Here's a word you'll need to deal with ahead of Italy's elections.

Italian word of the day: 'Inciucio'

With two days to go until Sunday’s general election, there’s talk of a potential ’inciucio’ everywhere from the pages of newspapers to the heated conversations at sports bars up and down the country.

So what is an ‘inciucio’ and why does the word seem to be on everyone’s lips whenever Italy faces elections?

Briefly, ‘inciucio’ is political jargon that describes any type of dubious agreement or, if you will, compromise reached by two or more political parties generally holding opposite views and ideals.

There’s no direct translation into English, though a native speaker would probably refer to it as something of a dodgy backroom deal.

Non c’è una maggioranza chiara. 

Eh, figurati. Faranno il solito inciucio.

There isn’t a clear-cut majority.

Oh, that’s not new. They’ll go for the usual deal.

Such an agreement is usually necessary when forming a large coalition government, with terms largely assumed to be based on the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” principle. 

READ ALSO: Salvini vs Meloni: Can Italy’s far-right rivals put differences aside?

With that definition in mind, it’s hard not to see why ‘inciucio’ is such a commonly-used word in Italy, a country whose political class has historically been partial to improbable alliances with their previously hated rivals. 

Cosa pensi delle prossime elezioni?

Preferisco non pensare. Ne ho avuto abbastanza di questi inciuci. 

What do you think of the next elections?

I’d rather not think. I’ve had enough of these political deals.

Purtroppo, con questa legge elettorale, l’inciucio tra partiti è l’unica via per avere un governo…

Fammi un piacere. Gli inciuci esistevano anche 60 anni fa, molto prima di questa legge elettorale.

Sadly, with the current electoral system, a compromise between different parties is the only way to form a new government.

Do me a favour. These types of agreements existed 60 years ago, well before the present electoral system.

While the noble art of the inciucio goes back a long way in the history of republican Italy, the term itself was only coined in 1995 by Massimo D’Alema, then secretary of the left-wing Democratic Party (PD). 

The expression only rose to popularity a couple of years later, when the founder of the term thought it fit to put the word to good use and reached a ‘non-aggression pact’ with the then-leaders of Italy’s right-wing coalition – the agreement went down in history as the patto della crostata or ‘pie pact’ – but we’ll keep that story for another time.

Ever since then, the term ‘inciucio’ has been regularly used by political commentators as well as the wider public to discuss the various power plays of the country’s major political forces.

For instance, the most classic of inciuci was at the foundation of Giuseppe Conte’s first cabinet back in 2018, when Matteo Salvini’s League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five-Star Movement unexpectedly found sufficient common ground to form a coalition government.

So, will we see another inciucio this time around?

Given the unpredictable nature of Italian politics, you’ll forgive us for not ruling out the possibility of another inciucio just yet.