For members


Italian expression of the day: ‘Da morire’

We think you'll really love this one.

Italian expression of the day: 'Da morire'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

There’s a lot to like – to really, really like – about Italian life: the weather, the food, the culture, and of course the language. And as anyone who has lived here for any length of time will know, there are also quite a few things to dislike pretty strongly as well.

For better or worse, Italy is a place of contrasts and extremes. And you won’t find many people sitting politely on the fence or keeping their opinions to themselves, either.

Living in such a place requires plenty of superlative language: if you’re going to get worked up about things multiple times per day, you’ll find that a simple “mi piace or “non mi piace” just doesn’t cut it.

Allow us to introduce you, then, to two little words that will instantly add more drama to everything you say: Da morire

It’s what it sounds like, translating literally as “to death”, and it can be used much as we would in English:

– Tua madre era preoccupata da morire.
– Your mother’s been worried to death.
– Questo lavoro è noioso da morire
– This job bores me to death

Note however that the sentence above uses the adjective noioso (boring), so would literally translate as “this job is boring to death”, which doesn’t quite work. Since da morire is used as an adverb to modify the adjective, a better translation might be “this job is extremely boring”.

Other uses of da morire don’t translate that easily into English – but the meaning isn’t hard to grasp.

You can simply tack it on to all sorts of phrases to stress how strongly you feel. For example:

Gioco a calcio per vivere e mi piace da morire

– I play football for a living and I really like it/I love it

– Ti odio da morire

– I hate you so much

With verbs like these you can use it as an alternative to tantissimo, to mean “so much”.

And you can even say:

– Mi dispiace da morire

– I’m really terribly sorry

Da morire  also strengthens pretty much any adjective, positive or negative.

– È bella da morire

– She’s incredibly beautiful.

It can be used where in English we’d put an adverb such as really, extremely, terribly, incredibly, or unbelievably (although unlike these words da morire should come after the adjective.)

So now you’ll be able to use this phrase to quickly express a strong feeling or opinion in Italian.

Just try not to use it to death.

A few more opinionated Italian phrases you might find useful:

You can see our complete Word of the Day archive here. Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

Member comments

  1. You state that “You can see our complete Word of the Day archive here”.
    However, there is Nothing Found in your Word of the Day archive.

  2. time to start doing articles on life in Italy again
    LESS Covid, more informative, fun articles

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Italian expression of the day: ‘Farla franca’

You won't get away with neglecting to learn this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Farla franca'

If you like Italian detective or murder mystery novels, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter the phrase farla franca: to get away with something.

Con Poirot alle calcagna, l’assassino non riuscirà mai a farla franca.
With Poirot on the scent, the killer will never get away with it.

Pensavi davvero di potermi derubare e farla franca?
You really thought you could steal from me and get away with it?

90 Day Fiance Ellie GIF by TLC

According to the Treccani dictionary, the expression comes from the bureaucratic use of the adjective franco to mean ‘free’, describing either people that are exempt from carrying out their duties (like off-duty naval officers) or goods that are exempt from tariffs and duties.

One of the first recorded uses of farla franca as a phrase comes from the early 14th century.

The Florentine historian Giovanni Villani wrote that in June 1322, the city of Florence celebrated the Feast of San Giovanni with a big fair, ‘la quale feciono franca‘ for non-citizens – in other words, foreign merchants who came didn’t have to pay the usual taxes.

By the mid-1800s, the expression to mean escaping from some illicit act or risky endeavour without having to pay a penalty. In English (if you were being old-fashioned) you might talk in the same way about someone ‘getting off scot free’.

The la in farla franca is the part of the phrase that stands in for the ‘it’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to fare but can go somewhere else, as long as it’s there.

Non possiamo permettere che la faccia franca.
We can’t let him get away with this.

Pensa di poterla fare franca.
She thinks she can get away with it.

With this phrase now in your repertoire, there’s no telling what you’ll get away with.

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