Italian expression of the day: ‘Male che vada’

Italian expression of the day: 'Male che vada'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash
What's the worst that can happen if you know this phrase?

No one likes to spend too much time thinking about just how bad things might get, especially these days. 

But today's phrase is for when you can't help facing up to the worst-case scenario: male che vada, 'however badly it goes'. (If you don't recognise vada, that's because it's the subjunctive of the verb andare, 'to go', which gives the phrase a hypothetical feel: it's like saying 'however badly it may go').

It's not as negative as it sounds, however. The closest equivalents in English are probably the expressions 'if the worst comes to the worst' or 'worst-case scenario', which you typically use to present some kind of contingency plan.

Ti andrebbe di andare a fare una passeggiata?
– Ma il meteo dice che pioverà…
Dai, usciamo lo stesso! Male che vada andiamo al bar a prendere un caffè.

– Do you fancy going for a walk?
– But the forecast says it's going to rain…
– Come on, let's go anyway! Worst-case scenario, we'll go to the bar and get a coffee.

In other words, even if things go wrong you know what you'll do about it.

Sometimes male che vada is, in fact, downright optimistic. It can be the equivalent of 'at worst' or 'at the very least', something you say to indicate that even the worst-case scenario really isn't that bad.

Male che vada, questo tirocinio arricchirà il mio curriculum.
At the very least, this internship will add to my CV.

Cosa aspetti a chiederle di uscire? Male che vada ti dice di no e per te non cambierà nulla.
What are you waiting for to ask her out? At worst she'll say no and it won't change anything for you.

So try saying male che vada next time you want to reassure someone (including yourself) that however bad things go, you'll deal with it. What's the worst that can happen?

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


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.