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Italian expression of the day: ‘Manco morto’

Italian expression of the day manco morto
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
A phrase to (not) die for.

When you really want to stress your opposition to doing something in English, you might say you ‘wouldn’t be caught dead’ doing it, and Italian neatly has a direct equivalent: manco morto/a.

The adverb manco means ‘not even’ and morto is dead, so manco morto literally means ‘not even dead (would I do this)’.

Note that as an adverb, manco doesn’t change its form to agree with the sentence subject, but as an adjective, morto does.

Non la metterei manco morto.
I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this.

Io, mi sposo? Manco morta.
Me, get married? Over my dead body.

Antonella Elia Pechino Express GIF - Antonella Elia Pechino Express Trash Italiano GIFs

If you want to be a little less dramatic, alternative versions are manco per sogno (I wouldn’t dream of it) and manco per idea (not even theoretically).

It’s worth noting that with these phrases, you could substitute nemmeno or neanche for manco and get the exact same meaning.

Mi puoi accompagnare all’aeroporto giovedì?
Manco per sogno! Il tuo volo parte alle 6 di mattina!

Can you take me to the airport on Thursday?
No way! Your flight leaves at 6am!

Vuoi andare a ballare in discoteca con noi stasera?
Manco per idea! Ho un colloquio di lavoro domani mattina!

Do you want to come clubbing with us this evening?
Hell no! I have a job interview tomorrow morning!

Manco Per Idea Manco Per Sogno GIF - Manco Per Idea Manco Per Sogno Manco Morta GIFs

There’s also manco se mi paghi: not even if you paid me.

Uscire con Luca? Manco se mi paghi.
Go out with Luca? Not if you paid me.

Andrai dai tuoi per Capodanno?
Manco se mi pagano! L’anno scorso si sono addormentati alle 22.30!

Will you go to your parents for new year’s?
Not if they paid me! Last year they fell asleep at 10.30pm!

The next time you need to turn something down as emphatically as possible, you know how.

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


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