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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘A mo’ di’

This little phrase can serve as a useful means of self-expression.

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Previously, we’ve discussed the use of “mo” in Italian to mean “now”, arising as an abbreviation of the Latin word for now, modo.

The “mo'” in a mo’ di looks similar, but it’s actually an abbreviation of the Italian word modo, meaning style or manner. “A mo’ di” therefore means “by way of” or “in the manner of”.

A mo’ di esempio, ti racconto una storia…
By way of example, I’ll tell you a story…

Ecco una copia della sua lettera, a mo’ di spiegazione.
Here’s copy of her letter, by way of explanation.

Dobbiamo farlo veloce e con precisione, a mo’ di chirurgo.
We do it must quickly and with precision, in the manner of a surgeon.

Notice there’s an apostrophe at the end of mo’ – that’s to show the word is an abbreviation of modo. You could theoretically say a modo di, but it sounds a bit stiff and formal.

The phrase also means “as” or “like”, when you’re using one thing as something else.

Usava il giornale a mo’ di ombrello per proteggersi dalla pioggia.
She was using the newspaper as an umbrella to shield herself from the rain.

Sto usando questo maglione a mo’ di cuscino per il viaggio in campeggio.
I’m using this jumper as a pillow for the camping trip.

Camping Everything Is Fine GIF by Kel Cripe

Finally, a mo’ di can mean “in the guise of”, when talking about dressing or styling a person or thing in a certain way.

Era vestito a mo’ di prete, così è riuscito a accedere al monastero.
He was dressed like a priest, and in this way he managed to gain access to the monastery.

Si vestiva a mo’ di strega per andare alla festa di Halloween.
She dressed up as a witch to go to the Halloween party.

And that’s what we’ve got for you, by way of explanation.

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 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.

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