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Italian word of the day: ‘Proposito’

There’s a lot to be said with regard to this word.

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

You’ll hear proposito used in such wide variety of contexts in Italy that without a primer, foreigners can easily be left wondering exactly what it translates to.

That’s because proposito is a versatile word that means a number of different things in English depending on the situation you use it in and the preposition you use it with.

To start with, it can mean a firm purpose, objective, resolution, or plan.

Il suo proposito è di andarsene entro gennaio.
Her objective is to leave by January.

Lui è molto ostinato nei suoi propositi, nessuno può smuoverlo.
He’s very dogged in his resolutions, no one can change his mind.

Che propositi avete per il futuro?
What plans do you have for the future?

Since proposito in this context is something you intend or plan to do, doing something ‘on purpose’ or deliberately is doing it di proposito.

Non l’ho mica fatto di proposito!
I certainly didn’t do it on purpose!

Pensa che tu abbia fallito l’esame di proposito per poter rimanere nella stessa classe di Sara.
She thinks you failed the exam on purpose so you could stay in the same class as Sara.

Sorry Not Sorry Oops GIF by Amazon Prime Video

Aside from this, proposito can also be a topic or subject matter.

Lei pensa solo a questo proposito.
She thinks of nothing else but this.

Ho già qualche idea a proposito.
I already have some ideas on the subject.

When used in this way, we can combine proposito with the preposition ‘a’ to form the phrases a questo proposito, meaning ‘with regard to this’, or a proposito di…, meaning ‘with regard to…’, ‘about…’, or ‘on the subject of…’.

Ci sono alcune domande che potrebbero aiutarci a questo proposito.
There are a few questions that might help us in this regard.

A proposito di compiti, non mi hai ancora mostrato i tuoi.
Speaking of homework, you still haven’t shown me yours.

Volevo parlarti a proposito di Giovanni.
I wanted to speak with you about Giovanni.

Similarly, in proposito means ‘in this regard’ or ‘with regard to this’ when referring back to something that has just been discussed.

Le ho rivolto qualche domanda in proposito.
I’ve sent you a few questions in connection with this matter.

Il governo ha una notevole responsabilità in proposito.
The government bears a good deal of responsibility in this respect.

Finally, we can use a proposito either to mean ‘opportunely’ or appropriately; or, conversationally, to mean ‘by the way’.

Vieni a proposito!
You’re coming at the right time!

A proposito, io sono a favore.
By the way, I think it’s a good thing.

Potete chiamarmi Laura, a proposito.
You can all call me Laura, by the way.

With many Italian words, you can put an ‘s’ at the beginning to turn its meaning on its head, and this holds true with proposito, as a spoprosito means inopportune, or inappropriate; while the noun uno sproposito means a blunder.

Forse ho parlato a sproposito.
Perhaps I spoke out of turn.

È stato uno sproposito reagire così.
It was a mistake to react like this.

See if you can use the word in conversation a proposito (not a sproposito!) 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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For members


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.