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Italian word of the day: ‘Cotto’

Try not to get too hot and bothered about this word...

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

Literally, the Italian adjective cotto/a means cooked or baked, which is where we get familiar words like terracotta (‘baked earth’) and panna cotta (‘cooked cream’).

But it also has another common slang meaning (not the one that might immediately jump to the the mind of an anglophone…).

Essere cotto/a is to be smitten or infatuated with someone, to have a big crush on them.

È ovvio che sei cotta di Paolo.
It’s obvious you’re infatuated with Paolo.

Trash Italiano Grande Fratello GIF - Trash Italiano Grande Fratello Grande Fratello Vip GIFs

The sentence doesn’t necessarily need an object – someone can simply be cotto/a without the need to specify the object of their desires – but if there is an object, it should be preceded by the preposition di.

Ve lo dico, sono cotto.
I’m telling you, I’m smitten.

Ero cotta di te a scuola.
I had a crush on you at school.

Le ragazze sono cotte del nuovo vicino.
The girls have a crush on the new neighbour.

If you want to add emphasis, you can use the slightly more poetic (and less common) innamorato/a cotto/a: head over heels, or desperately in love.

Non la tradirebbe mai, ne è innamorato cotto.
He would never cheat, he’s madly in love with her.

Senti, Alba ha già un ragazzo di cui è innamorata cotta.
Listen, Alba already has a boyfriend she’s crazy about.

Will Ferrell Crush GIF by filmeditor

Cotta, with an ‘a’, isn’t necessarily an adjective; you might also see it used as a noun, meaning crush. Just like in English, you avere una cotta, or ‘have a crush’; the relevant preposition now becomes ‘per’.

Aveva una cotta per lei fin dall’inizio.
She had thing for her from the very beginning.

Ho una cotta pazzesca per lui.
I have a huge crush on him.

And your first crush is your prima cotta.

Sarai per sempre la sua prima cotta.
You’ll always be his first crush.

Parlami della tua prima cotta.
Tell me about your first crush.

Now whether you want to tease your friends or declare your true feelings to the object of your desire, you’ll be ready!

Do you have a favourite Italian word 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: ‘Inciucio’

Here's a word you'll need to deal with ahead of Italy's elections.

Italian word of the day: 'Inciucio'

With two days to go until Sunday’s general election, there’s talk of a potential ’inciucio’ everywhere from the pages of newspapers to the heated conversations at sports bars up and down the country.

So what is an ‘inciucio’ and why does the word seem to be on everyone’s lips whenever Italy faces elections?

Briefly, ‘inciucio’ is political jargon that describes any type of dubious agreement or, if you will, compromise reached by two or more political parties generally holding opposite views and ideals.

There’s no direct translation into English, though a native speaker would probably refer to it as something of a dodgy backroom deal.

Non c’è una maggioranza chiara. 

Eh, figurati. Faranno il solito inciucio.

There isn’t a clear-cut majority.

Oh, that’s not new. They’ll go for the usual deal.

Such an agreement is usually necessary when forming a large coalition government, with terms largely assumed to be based on the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” principle. 

READ ALSO: Salvini vs Meloni: Can Italy’s far-right rivals put differences aside?

With that definition in mind, it’s hard not to see why ‘inciucio’ is such a commonly-used word in Italy, a country whose political class has historically been partial to improbable alliances with their previously hated rivals. 

Cosa pensi delle prossime elezioni?

Preferisco non pensare. Ne ho avuto abbastanza di questi inciuci. 

What do you think of the next elections?

I’d rather not think. I’ve had enough of these political deals.

Purtroppo, con questa legge elettorale, l’inciucio tra partiti è l’unica via per avere un governo…

Fammi un piacere. Gli inciuci esistevano anche 60 anni fa, molto prima di questa legge elettorale.

Sadly, with the current electoral system, a compromise between different parties is the only way to form a new government.

Do me a favour. These types of agreements existed 60 years ago, well before the present electoral system.

While the noble art of the inciucio goes back a long way in the history of republican Italy, the term itself was only coined in 1995 by Massimo D’Alema, then secretary of the left-wing Democratic Party (PD). 

The expression only rose to popularity a couple of years later, when the founder of the term thought it fit to put the word to good use and reached a ‘non-aggression pact’ with the then-leaders of Italy’s right-wing coalition – the agreement went down in history as the patto della crostata or ‘pie pact’ – but we’ll keep that story for another time.

Ever since then, the term ‘inciucio’ has been regularly used by political commentators as well as the wider public to discuss the various power plays of the country’s major political forces.

For instance, the most classic of inciuci was at the foundation of Giuseppe Conte’s first cabinet back in 2018, when Matteo Salvini’s League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five-Star Movement unexpectedly found sufficient common ground to form a coalition government.

So, will we see another inciucio this time around?

Given the unpredictable nature of Italian politics, you’ll forgive us for not ruling out the possibility of another inciucio just yet.