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Italian word of the day: ‘Casomai’

You never know when this word might come in handy.

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

This word is about preparing for every eventuality, however unlikely.

Casomai (click here to hear it pronounced) is a contraction of caso mai, which individually mean ‘case’ and ‘never/ever’ and put together add up to ‘in case’.

You can also use the more obvious translations in caso or nel caso, but casomai makes whatever you’re talking about sound that bit less expected to happen – like saying ‘if ever’.

Casomai tornerai da queste parti, vienici a trovare.
If ever you’re back in these parts, come and see us. 

Grammar fiends will know that when you’re talking about a hypothetical possibility in Italian you often have to use the subjunctive, or congiuntivo. That’s the case with casomai too – though not in the example above, since you’re using the future tense to describe something that may well happen at some point down the line.

If you don’t necessarily see it happening at all, though, you’ll need to switch into the subjective.

Casomai io non fossi in casa, vieni a cercarmi in ufficio.
On the off chance I’m not at home, come and find me at the office.

Casomai tu ne avessi bisogno, le chiavi sono qua.
If you should need them, the keys are here.

To make things more confusing, you’ll notice that in these examples it’s not even the regular old present subjunctive (sia, abbia) but the imperfect subjunctive (fossi, avessi). 

That’s because Italian uses tenses in a particular order when you’re talking about two conditional possibilities in the same sentence (‘if x, then y’). We actually have a similar pattern in English, we just tend not to notice it – think about this sentence, for example: ‘If I were rich, I would buy an apartment by the Spanish Steps’. Find an explanation here

If that’s too much to bite off at once, you’ll be reassured to know that there’s another way you can use casomai without a subjunctive in sight. 

In certain contexts it also means ‘if needs be’, when you’re laying out what you’ll do if things don’t go as you expect. In this case you can avoid the subjunctive because you’re simply describing a back-up plan without going into whatever hypothetical events might have to happen to make it necessary.

Non venire – casomai passo io da te.
Don’t come – if needs be I’ll come to you.

Credo di fare in tempo. Casomai prenderò un taxi.
I think I’ll make it in time, but I’ll get a taxi if needs be.

And with that, you’re covered for every possibility. 

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

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For members


Italian word of the day: ‘Delusione’

We hope this word doesn't disappoint.

Italian word of the day: 'Delusione'

Experiencing a delusione (deh-loo-zee-OH-neh) in Italian may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t mean you need escorting to the psychiatrist’s chair.

That’s because while delusione may look and sound like its English cousin ‘delusion’, the word actually means something quite different: disappointment.

Disappointment Disappointed GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Food Review GIFs

The two nouns actually have the same root in the Latin dēlūsiō, meaning a deceiving or deluding, and delūdō, meaning to deceive, dupe, or mock.

But while the English ‘delusion’ has hewn close to the original Latin meaning over the centuries, delusione at some point branched off to its current, quite different, definition.

There’s not much in the way of information about exactly when and how that happened, but it’s clearly a short associative hop from feeling ‘deceived’ or ‘duped’ by things turning out differently to what you’d expected to feeling ‘disappointed’.

Che delusione.
How disappointing.

La festa era, purtroppo, una grande delusione.
The party unfortunately was a big disappointment.

Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad Che Delusione No Che Vergogna GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Oh No GIFs

The adjective for ‘disappointed’ is deluso for a single masculine subject, changing to delusa/delusi/deluse if the subject being described is feminine singular/masculine plural/feminine plural.

Era delusa da come era venuta la torta.
She was disappointed with how the cake turned out.

Devo dire che siamo davvero delusi dal fatto che siamo stati trattati in questo modo.
I have to say that we’re very disappointed to have been treated this way.

A word you’ll often see used in combination with deluso/a/i/e is rimanere (ree-man-EH-reh): rimanere deluso.

You might correctly recognise rimanere as meaning ‘to remain’, and wonder why we’d use that word here – but rimanere also has an alternative meaning along the lines of ‘to become’, ‘to get’, or simply ‘to be’.

For example, you can rimanere incinta (get pregnant), or rimanere ferito (get hurt or wounded, for example in a car accident).

It’s also very often used with emotions, usually those experienced in the moment rather than long-term ones: you can rimanere sorpreso (be surprised), rimanere triste (be sad), rimanere scioccato (be shocked)… and rimanere deluso (be disappointed).

Sono rimasto molto deluso quando mi ha detto di aver abbandonato la scuola.
I was very disappointed when she told me she had dropped out of school.

Siamo rimasti delusi dalle condizioni della stanza d’albergo al nostro arrivo.
We were disappointed by the condition of the hotel room when we arrived.

With that, we wish you a weekend free of delusioni (disappointments)!

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