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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Lungaggine’

Ever been caught up in interminable red tape? Of course Italian has a word for that.

Italian word of the day: 'Lungaggine'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Anyone who's ever had to deal with Italian paperwork will feel this word in their soul: lungaggine, 'slowness' or 'delay'. 

Click here to hear it pronounced.

It's formed by taking the adjective lungo ('long' or 'slow') and adding the suffix ~aggine, which turns it into a noun while simultaneously adding a negative connotation. 

You'll see the same pattern in words like stupidaggine ('stupidness', from stupido) or sbadataggine (‘carelessness’, from sbadato).

And while ~aggine works a lot like ~ness in English, it doesn't create an abstract noun, describing the trait of stupidness or carelessness, so much as an instance of that trait: it's more like an 'act of stupidity' or 'act of carelessness'. 

Lungaggini (plural), then, are exasperatingly lengthy things – like a particularly verbose speech, a self-indulgently slow film, or typically anything that occurs inside a local government office.

Indeed, you're most likely to encounter it in the phrase lungaggini burocratiche: 'bureaucratic delays', or as you could put it, 'red tape'. 

Che lungaggine, questo discorso!
This speech is such a drag!

Lo SPID è un strumento utile per chi vuole evitare lungaggini burocratiche.
A digital ID is handy for anyone who wants to avoid red tape.

PS: If you could do with cutting some red tape yourself, here are our tips on how to get Italian admin done online

See our complete Word of the Day archive here.

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

Italian word of the day: ‘Quanto meno’

At least give this Italian word a try.

Italian word of the day: 'Quanto meno'

Here’s a useful adverb to have on hand when practicing your conversational Italian: quanto meno.

It can be used in a couple of different ways, but most commonly means ‘at least’.

We’re calling this a word rather than an expression because although ‘quanto meno’ is slightly more common in contemporary Italian, it can equally be written as ‘quantomeno’.

In many contexts, quanto meno and almeno are effectively synonyms. The only difference is that almeno simply means ‘at least’, while quanto meno sometimes implies a more emphatic ‘at the very least’ or ‘as a minimum’.

Mi potevi almeno accompagnare alla stazione.
You could have at least accompanied me to the station.

Se avessi saputo prima avrei potuto quanto meno darvi una mano.
If I had known earlier I would have at least been able to give you a hand.

Il traffico sulla strada per Como è stato tremendo.
Quanto meno avete avuto bel tempo.

The traffic on the way to Como was terrible.
– At least you had good weather.

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In other situations, however, quanto meno takes on a different meaning, becoming ‘to say the least’:

I suoi piani sono quanto meno avventurosi.
Her plans are adventurous to say the least.

I risultati sono preoccupanti, quanto meno.
The results are disturbing, to say the least.

There’s a third word that’s another synonym for ‘at least’: perlomeno. You’ll sometimes see it separated out into three words: per lo meno. Again, it can often be used more or less interchangeably with almeno.

Vorrei prendere perlomeno una settimana di vacanza quest’estate.
I want to take at least one week off this summer.

Perlomeno and quanto meno can also both mean something like ‘at any rate’.

Non verrebbe mai a trovarmi a casa, perlomeno.
She would never come to visit me at home, in any event.

Sei molto più in forma di me, quanto meno.
You’re in much better shape than me, at any rate.

None of these are to be confused with the quite different tanto meno, which means ‘much less’:

Non ho mai incontrato Laura, tanto meno sua sorella.
I’ve never met Laura, much less her sister.

Può a mala pena dirlo, tanto meno farlo.
He can barely say it, much less do it.

Got all that? Now see if you can fit quanto menoperlomeno and almeno into at least one conversation this week.

See our complete Word of the Day archive here. 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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