Italian word of the day: ‘Persino’

Even a beginner can manage this handy term.

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

Persino is one of those words I find myself looking up again and again, seemingly unable to make it stick.

It doesn’t help that it also goes by an alias: perfino, which means exactly the same thing – ‘even’.

Despite my blind spot, the two are actually quite straightforward. You say perfino or persino when you want to highlight something unexpected or unlikely.

Ha girato mezzo mondo ed è stata perfino al Polo Nord.
She’s travelled half the world and even been to the North Pole.

Persino sua moglie non è d’accordo.
Even his wife doesn’t agree.

They’re essentially words to add emphasis, a bit like pure or addirittura. We use ‘even’ much the same way in English, or in some cases ‘just’ or ‘only’.

Mi viene la pelle d’oca persino a pensarci.
I get goosebumps only thinking about it.

Perfino un bambino lo saprebbe fare.
Even (just) a child can do it.

Perhaps what throws me off is the fino part, which usually means ‘until’ or ‘up to’. But – and here’s what I really should memorize – fino can also be an emphatic ‘even’.

It’s more unusual, but you sometimes see it used this way with troppo (‘too much’) to imply that something’s happened ‘far too much’ or ‘all too well’. NB: you drop the final ‘o’ in this construction, just because it sounds better.

Sono stato fin troppo buono.
I was even too good (or: far too good). 

Hai detto fin troppo.
You’ve said quite enough (or: all too much). 

The parts of the puzzle all start coming together when you learn that sino is another word for fino, albeit a less common one (and if you want to get stuck a dictionary loop, trying looking all these terms up in and finding “sino: see fino”, only to be told “fino: see sino”).

So perfino or persino, which to go for? That’s entirely up to you: the two really are interchangeable, though my repeated Googlings turn up more results for persino than perfino.

Un giorno ce la farò persino io!
One day even I will manage it!

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This article was originally published in 2019.

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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.