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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Sbalordito’

This one's a knock out.

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

When was the last time you were blown away, gobsmacked, astounded?

If you wanted to express your emotional state in Italian, you could say that you were sbalordito.

It’s related to the word balordo, which means fool, or idiot.

Effectively, it’s to be struck so hard by something – physically or figuratively – that you’re stupefied.

Sbalordito is almost always used in the metaphorical sense, and it’s often a positive thing:

Siamo rimaste sbalordite dalle viste.
We were amazed by the views.

Il violinista ha sbalordito il pubblico.
The violinist blew the audience away.

Bill Nye Reaction GIF by MOODMAN

However, it can be more neutral, meaning shocked, stunned, or bewildered:

Sono rimasta sbalordita da quello che mi ha detto Alessandro stamattina.
I was flabbergasted by what Alessandro told me this morning.

La notizia che il Regno Unito aveva votato per la Brexit li ha sbalorditi.
The news that Britain had voted for Brexit stunned them.

Shock Disbelief GIF - Shock Disbelief Stunned GIFs

Rarely, sbalordire can literally mean to knock someone unconscious:

Lo ha sbalordito con un solo pugno.
He knocked him out with just one punch.

Let’s just hope the next time you’re sbalordito, you’re not left with an actual concussion.

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

Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

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

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