Italian word of the day: ‘Colle’

Here's why you'll keep seeing this word in the Italian news this week.

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

You may already know that today’s word, colle (pronounced ‘kol-leh’), means ‘hill’ in Italian. But why are hills being discussed so much in the Italian news lately?

These reports aren’t referring to just any old hill, but to the most important of the seven hills in the capital:

i sette colli di Roma

the seven hills of Rome

Rome’s Colle Quirinale, or Quirinale hill, is where the formal residence of the Italian president sits: il Palazzo del Quirinale – the Quirinale palace

The sprawling building, for centuries home to popes and kings, has been the official residence of the head of state since the declaration of the republic in 1946.

As Italy’s parliament begins voting for a new president on Monday, the ‘Colle’ (capitalised) which we see mentioned in news reports doesn’t refer to the actual hill, or even the palace, but is used as shorthand for the office or position of president.

“The race for the presidency starts: first ballot at 3pm” – Il Sole 24 Ore, Monday January 24th.

‘All the stages to become president” – Adnkronos, Monday January 24th.

While the president’s place of work literally sits upon a hill, at election time perhaps the Italian media simply can’t resist invoking the image of an uphill race to reach the country’s highest office.

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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.