Italian word of the day: ‘Brillo’

It’s got nothing to do with washing up pads.

Italian word of the day: ‘Brillo’
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you’ve ever partaken of an Italian aperitivo and indulged in something off the soft drinks menu, you might after a few sips of a glass of wine or spritz have started feeling ever so slightly brillo or brilla – tipsy, or buzzed (it can also be used to describe the effects of substances other than alcohol).

Despite being spelt exactly the same way, it’s not to be confused with some of the present tense conjugations of the verb brillare, which means to shine, twinkle, glimmer, or occasionally, to set off or explode:

Gli artificieri hanno fatto brillare l’ordigno bellico.
The bomb disposal team exploded the wartime bomb.

Remember that brillo is an adjective, so its ending needs to change to a/i/e depending on whether the thing it’s describing is masculine/feminine/plural, etc., while brillare as a verb simply needs to agree with the subject (I/he/she/you/we/they) performing the action, with masculine/feminine forms being completely irrelevant.

Brillo come una palla da discoteca in questo vestito.
I’m sparkling like a disco ball in this dress.

Era un po’ brillo ieri sera.
He was a little buzzed yesterday evening.

Guarda come brilla il mare sotto la luna.
Look how the sea’s shining beneath the moon.

Già dopo un mezzo bicchiere di vino sei brilla, Sara!
After half a glass of wine you’re already tipsy, Sara!

Are the two words etymologically linked? It’s unclear, but it’s nice to think of your tipsy friend as being just a bit… shiny.

Shiny Moana GIF - Shiny Moana Tamatoa GIFs

Do you have an 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: ‘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.