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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Suggestivo’

This word might not mean what you think it does.

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

As an anglophone, you likely wouldn’t describe the crumbling ruins of a castle or a shaded forest as ‘suggestive’.

In English, tagging ‘of’ on the end of ‘suggestive’ means the thing being described brings to mind or is indicative of something else.

“Her songs are suggestive of ancient folk music” or “these figures are suggestive of an economy in decline,” we could say.

But left on its own, ‘suggestive’ has sexual connotations; you might talk about a ‘suggestive remark’, implying that something saucy is being alluded to, or ‘suggestive clothing’ that showcases the wearer’s attributes.

In Italian, however, the word is far more innocent.

Suggestivo typically means atmospheric, evocative, enchanting, or spellbinding.

It could describe a stunning view or a cathedral.

La cappella Sistina è davvero suggestiva.
The Sistene Chapel is really stunning.

La Toscana ha un paesaggio suggestivo che richiama ogni anno tantissimi turisti.
Tuscany has enchanting scenery that every year attracts a large number of tourists.

It could also refer to something more mundane, like a restaurant or hotel.

L’agriturismo si trova in un ambiente molto suggestivo.
The holiday farm is in a very atmospheric location.

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The adjective also has some slightly different meanings, including ‘appealing’:

Immaginava un futuro suggestivo, pieno di successi.
She envisioned an attractive future, full of successes.

Or it can mean ‘leading’, as in a ‘leading question’:

Quella è una domanda suggestiva, non la ammetto.
That’s a leading question, I’m not allowing it.

See if you can fit the word into a spoken sentence, a written restaurant review, or if you want to be ambitious, a courtroom hearing (?!) this week.

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.

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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.

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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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