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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Stupidaggine’

You can probably take a good guess as to what this word means...

Italian word of the day stupidaggine
Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Sometimes, when you’re scrambling to think of the Italian word for something and are failing miserably, there’s a temptation to just throw out the English with an extra vowel added on the end and see where it gets you.

Most of the time the answer is: not far. But ‘stupid’ is one of those words which can in fact be Italianised with the simple addition of an ‘o’, ‘a’, ‘i’ or ‘e’ (depending on whether the subject is masculine or feminine, singular or plural):

È la cosa più stupida di cui abbia mai sentito parlare.
It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.

Pensi che io sono uno stupido?
Do you think I’m an idiot?

Italian, however, goes one better than English in that it creates a whole extra noun out of the word that doesn’t exist at all for anglophones: stupidaggine (STOOP-ih-DADGE-inn-eh), which means something like a piece of rubbish, nonsense, foolishness – in short, a stupid/trivial little thing, not worth wasting your time on.

Questa è una stupidaggine e lo sai benissimo.
This is nonsense and you know that full well.

Sicuramente entro domani si sarà scordata di questa stupidaggine.
By tomorrow she’ll definitely have forgotten this foolishness.

Mario Adinolfi Il Popolo Della Famiglia Stupidaggine GIF - Mario Adinolfi The People Of Family Bullshit GIFs

Unlike any of its English equivalents, stupidaggine is a countable noun, which means it also exists in the plural form, stupidaggini (STOOP-ih-DADGE-inn-ee) – in fact, you’ll probably more commonly hear it used in the plural than the singular form.

Non ne posso più delle sue stupidaggini.
I’ve had enough of his nonsense.

Non ho tempo per affrontare questi stupidaggini.
I don’t have time to deal with this rubbish.

It’s such a pleasing word to say that once you get the hang of it, you’re liable to find yourself using it all the time (not to mention questioning why English doesn’t really have a word for ‘stupid little thing/s’).

But stupidaggine isn’t the only Italian word meaning ‘stupidities’ that has a nice cadence to it.

There’s also sciocchezze (shock-ETZ-eh), the plural of sciocchezza (shock-ETZ-a), which means more or less exactly the same thing as stupidaggini.

Smettila di dire sciocchezze.
Stop saying ridiculous things.

Ho commesso una sciocchezza.
I did something stupid.

Gfvip Grandefratellovip GIF - Gfvip Grandefratellovip Marchesadaragona GIFs

Like stupidaggini, sciocchezze comes from another word: sciocco, which can be used either as an adjective, meaning silly or foolish, or as a noun, meaning fool (stupido can also be used either as an adjective of a noun in Italian).

Then there’s the less common scemenze (shem-ENZ-eh), the plural of scemenza (shem-ENZ-a), which comes from the noun/adjective scemo (SHAY-mo), and again is more or less interchangeable with both stupidaggini and sciocchezze.

Che scemenze ho detto ieri sera?
What nonsense did I spout last night?

Finally, there’s the vulgar cazzate (catz-AH-teh), the plural for cazzata ((catz-AH-a) – it’s very commonly used in colloquial Italian but you’ll want to watch who you say it around because it’s closer to ‘bullshit’ than ‘foolishness’.

Scusa, sono allergica alle cazzate.
Sorry, I’m allergic to bullshit.

Un Sacco Di Cazzate Dice GIF - Un Sacco Di Cazzate Dice Diceunsaccodicazzate Comesempre GIFs

Next time you go on a fool’s errand to the comune with the aim of completing some bureaucratic task only to be sent home because you’re missing a photocopy of a previously unmentioned document, at least you’ll have the vocabulary complain about it.

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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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Fare una filippica’

When your best Italian mate is giving you an earful for being a couple of minutes late, tell him to quit the ‘philippic’.

Italian expression of the day: ‘Fare una filippica’

As far as idioms go, fare una filippica is one of the most popular ones used in Italian television and print media. Presenters and journalists use it every day as a way to give colour and panache to their reports.

But what is a filippica (literally, ‘philippic’ in English) and, above all, what does it mean to make one?

In Italian, the word filippica is generally used to describe a very impassioned invective: a tongue-lashing, if you will, aimed at a political adversary or any other opponent.

So fare una filippica means having a go at someone, and in a rather ferocious and hostile way.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Il capo dell’opposizione ha fatto una filippica contro l’immobilità del governo nei confronti delle famiglie a basso reddito.

The head of the opposition harshly criticised the government’s inertia towards low-income families.

Or:

L’allenatore ha fatto una filippica contro i tifosi della squadra ospite per il loro comportamento sugli spalti.

The coach condemned the away side’s fans for their behaviour on the stands.

As you can see, on most occasions, the expression is followed by contro (‘against’) plus the person or people the invective is directed at. 

As previously mentioned, the expression is widely used in broadcast and print media. However, it is also frequently used in colloquial Italian as a way to mock someone who is being overly dramatic or getting unreasonably upset about trivial matters.

For instance:

Sei sempre in ritardo. Sei insopportabile.
Sono solo due minuti. Non farmi una filippica…

You’re always late. You’re insufferable.
It’s just a couple of minutes. Don’t you dare have a go at me…

So, now that you have a basic grasp of how (and when) to use the idiom, you may also be interested in knowing where it comes from. 

Like most Italian idioms, fare una filippica originated in the classical age.

Notably the expression dates back to 351 BC, when the independence of Athens, the richest and most technologically advanced city-state in ancient Greece, was being threatened by the expansionist designs of Philip II, king of Macedon.

Being conscious of the risks Macedon posed to his city’s autonomy, Athenian intellectual and statesman Demosthenes famously gave a number of fervid political speeches aimed at rallying his fellow citizens against Philip II and calling for a mobilisation of Athens’ military forces.

Such orations, whose eloquence and rhetoric are admired to this very day, were known as ‘philippics’ (‘filippiche’ in Italian), hence the very peculiar expression which, through the centuries, has made it all the way into modern Italian.

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

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