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Italian word of the day: ‘Ficcanaso’

You'll want to have a good ferret around this word to see what it's all about...

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

Find it hard to mind your own business? Can’t resist a little snooping around when the opportunity presents itself?

Then today’s word is for you. A ficcanaso (fee-ka-NAH-zoh) is someone who loves sticking their nose in other people’s affairs – in other words, a nosy parker.

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Ficcare means to stick, shove, or poke, and naso is simply nose, so (as with nosy parker) from there to ficcanaso is just a short hop.

Tu sai benissimo che lei è solo una ficcanaso.
You know very well that she’s just a busybody.

When used as a noun, being a ficcanaso is often something you ‘do’ or ‘play at’, so you’ll see it phrased as fare il/la ficcanaso (we’ve seen this formulation before in the famous Neapolitan dialect song Tu vuo’ fa’ l’americano – ‘you want to act the American’).

Luisa fa davvero la ficcanaso oggi.
Luisa’s being a real nosy parker today.

Ficcanaso can equally be used as the adjective ‘nosy’ – note that the ending doesn’t change to agree with the subject it’s describing.

È sempre stato un po’ ficcanaso.
He’s always been a bit nosy.

Non mi piacciono i vicini ficcanaso.
I don’t like nosy neighbours.

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Another variation is ficcare il becco, or more commonly, mettere il becco – to ‘stick your beak’ into something that doesn’t concern you.

And if you’re one for a bit of eavesdropping, you’ll want to know the word origliare – to eavesdrop or listen in.

Mamma, non origliare le mie conversazioni per favore.
Mum, please don’t listen in on my conversations.

Mi sa che i bambini stanno origliando fuori dalla porta.
I think the kids are eavesdropping just outside the door.

What to learn more? Have a snoop around our Word of the Day archive and see what other Italian vocabular you can stick your nose into.

Is there an Italian word of expression 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.

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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.

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.