Literally translating into English as ‘in the wolf’s mouth’, this famous Italian phrase is much more interesting to say than a simple ‘good luck’.
And in some parts of Italy, saying buona fortuna (‘good luck’) is sometimes believed to bring the opposite.
That’s why, though it may sound a bit dramatic, this idiomatic phrase really is used in everyday conversation in Italy.
Much like the English ‘break a leg’, the phrase is heard a lot in the theatre. But it’s also used when wishing good fortune to someone about to take on a daunting or challenging task – such as sitting an Italian language exam, or visiting the local prefettura.
Confusion arises however over what exactly you’re supposed to say in response.