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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Appunto’

You might find this is just the word you're looking for.

Italian word of the day: 'Appunto'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

How do you tell someone they’ve got it just right – not near enough or in the ball park, but spot on?

Appunto is the word you need. It means ‘exactly’ or ‘precisely’.

La cosa è andata appunto così.
That’s precisely how it went.

Appunto per questo ti ho fatto venire.
That’s exactly why I got you to come.

It’s often used to show that something or someone has shown up at just the right time.

Appunto, volevo proprio te.
You’re the very person I wanted to see.

Si parlava appunto di questo.
We were talking about that very thing.

You can also use appunto to answer a question in the affirmative – like giving a very emphatic ‘yes!’ or ‘indeed!’

– Mi aspettavi?
– Appunto!

– Were you waiting for me?
– Indeed I was!

That’s how you use appunto as an adverb, but don’t mix it up with the identical noun. Un appunto is a ‘critique’ or ‘objection’, while its plural form – gli appunti – means ‘notes’.

Ho dimenticato di prendere appunti.
I forgot to take notes.

Ho un appunto da farti.
I have an objection to make.

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

Member comments

  1. I have difficulty in knowing how to say “play a CD”. The Italian constructs don’t seem to follow the pattern of the English ones. I am not well understood if I use “suonare” and definitely not if I use “giocare”! But using mettere doesn’t feel right to me. Some examples, please …….

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Scarabocchio’

Can you fathom the meaning of this word?

Italian word of the day: ‘Scarabocchio’

If you haven’t yet found a proper Italian word to describe the unintelligible collection of dots, wonky lines and swirls that Italian doctors often nonchalantly passes off as a prescription, scarabocchio might do the trick.

Scarabocchio is the Italian equivalent of ‘scribble’ or ‘scrawl’ and it describes to any piece of writing or drawing whose meaning can’t be fathomed. 

Ho lasciato la lista della spesa sul tavolo!

Si, l’ho vista ma non ci ho capito niente. Era tutto uno scarabocchio…

I left the shopping list on the table!

Yes, I saw it but couldn’t understand any of it. It was all a scribble…

From a five-year-old’s abstract artworks to a colleague’s poor excuse for a handwritten note, you can use scarabocchio for pretty much anything – as long as it figures on a piece of paper. 

Though it is a bit of a mouthful (pronunciation available here), Italians love to use the word in daily conversations, especially so when it comes to mocking the unfortunate author of the scribble. 

Ti ho fatto uno schema per farti capire meglio.

Ma cos’e’ ‘sta cosa? Mi sembra proprio uno scarabocchio…

I’ve drawn a diagram to help you understand.

What on earth is this? It looks like a scrawl to me…

The word comes from the fusion of scarabeo (beetle) and the pejorative suffix -occhio (also used in ranocchio, meaning ‘ugly frog’, and marmocchio, meaning ‘bratty kid’). 

Though today’s scribbles may not resemble the shape of a beetle, they most likely did back in the days when poor handwriting skills would result in your quill creating circular blots of ink on the paper.

That’s why, to this day, Italians refer to scribbles as ‘ugly beetles’. 

Funnily enough, sgorbio, one of scarabocchio’s synonyms, also takes its name from an animal, namely the scorpion. But that’s a story for another time.

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

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