Italian word of the day: ‘Intanto’

Italian word of the day intanto
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
While you’re here, take a moment to learn this handy word.

Intanto is a word you’ll hear crop up often in Italian conversations.

Its most common English translations are ‘meanwhile’, ‘in the meantime’, ‘for the time being’, or ‘until then’.

Luisa arriverà tra cinque minuti. Intanto entra e mettiti a tuo agio.
Luisa will be here in five minutes. In the meantime, come in and make yourself comfortable.

L’anno prossimo mi laureerò come medico, ma intanto lavoro come cameriera.
Next year I’ll graduate as a doctor, but for the time being I’m working as a waitress.

Voi preparatevi a uscire, io intanto finisco di lavare i piatti.
You get ready to go out, meanwhile I’ll finish washing up.

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The dictionary points out that when used as a translation for ‘meanwhile’, intanto can have a somewhat adversarial quality, highlighting the contrast between two situations.

Io sto preparando una cena per dieci persone e intanto te ne stai lì a guardare la TV.
I’m preparing a meal for ten people, meanwhile you sit there watching TV.

Tu paghi l’affitto e tutti i conti, lui intanto non paga niente e non riesce a tenersi un lavoro per più di due mesi.
You pay the rent and all the bills, meanwhile he doesn’t pay for anything and can’t hold down a job for more than two months.

Relatedly (talking about highlighting contrasts), intanto is sometimes used to mean ‘however’:

È divieto di fumare nella casa, intanto si può fumare sul balcone.
Smoking in the house is forbidden, however you can smoke on the balcony.

La popolazione, intanto, si dimostrava contraria allo svolgersi degli eventi e pretendeva un’elezione.
The townspeople, however, showed their opposition to the turn of events and demanded an election.

Finally, intanto can mean ‘for starters’, ‘first of all’, or ‘for one thing’.

Allora, intanto, io sono cittadina americana.
First of all, I’m an American citizen.

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Intanto, a te quella mercedes non serve.
For starters, you don’t need that Mercedes.

Intanto sei sempre in ritardo.
For one thing, you’re always late.

Try it out in a conversation this week – and in the mean time, have a browse of our word of the day archive to see what else you can learn.

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

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