Italian word of the day: ‘Provare’

Have go with this popular verb.

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

One of the main definitions of the common Italian verb provare is ‘to try’, and if you’ve been in Italy for any length of time, you’ve probably heard it used in this sense on multiple occasions.

It can mean anything from ‘trying’ a food or drink (assaggiare, ‘to taste’, also works here):

Vuoi provare questo gelato? È buonissimo.
Do you want to try this ice cream? It’s very good.

to ‘trying on’ clothing (note that you’ll often see the reflexive form of the verb, provarsi, used in this context, but it’s not necessarily required):

Ti sei provata tutti i vestiti nel negozio.
You’ve tried on all the clothes in the shop.

Hilary Duff Clothes GIF

Ho provato il vestito in vetrina ma era troppo grande.
I tried on the dress in the display window but it was too big.

to simply attempting any activity:

Ieri ho provato a sciare per la prima volta.
I tried skiing for the first time yesterday.

Perché non provi a parlarle?
Why don’t you try talking to her?

The Italian word for a test or quiz is una prova – literally, ‘a try’.

Penso che abbiamo tutti fallito la prova di matematica.
I think we all failed the maths test.

And testing a mic? You guessed it:

Prova, prova.
Testing, testing.

Prova Prova Audio Test Mi Senti Non Ti Sento Non C'è Campo Connessione Ti Richiamo Microfono GIF - Mic Test Mic Tap Mic Tapping GIFs
Along those same lines, a prova can also be a rehearsal for a performance and provare to rehearse:

Ho dovuto accompagnare mio figlio alla prova per la recita scolastica.
I had to drop my son off at the rehearsal for the school play.

Lo avrà provato un centinaio di volte.
He must have rehearsed it a hundred times.

while a provino – something along the lines of ‘little try’ – is an audition.

Provarci, with the pronoun ci added on the end, means to ‘try it’ (either to literally attempt something or push boundaries) or to ‘try it on’ with someone (to flirt with them and see if you get anywhere).

Non lo saprai mai se non ci provi.
You’ll never know if you don’t try (it).

Non ci provare Francesco, la mamma è stanchissima oggi.
Don’t try it Francesco, mum’s extremely tired today.

Ci ha provato con tutte le ragazze nel quartiere.
He’s tried it on with all the girls in the neighbourhood.

Paolo Ciavarro Non GIF - Paolo Ciavarro Non Ci GIFs

Got all that?

Take a deep breath, because while that concludes the list of main uses of provare for anything related to ‘try’, its multifarious definitions don’t end there.

Provare can also mean to prove, verify, or demonstrate something, particularly in a legal context:

Te lo proverò, lo giuro.
I’ll prove it to you, I swear.

Posso provare la mia innocenza.
I can prove my innocence.

In this situation, prova becomes proof:

Non hanno mai trovato alcuna prova del suo coinvolgimento nel caso.
They never found any proof of his involvement in the case.

Finally, to provare qualcosa is to feel some kind of emotion. 

Note that provare should be used differently to sentire, which also means ‘feel’. While sentire can be followed by an adjective – you would sentire triste (‘feel sad’) or sentire felice (‘feel happy’) – provare needs to be followed by a noun or noun phrase:

Ho provato un senso di sollievo.
I felt a sense of relief.

Non avrei mai pensato di poter provare una cosa simile.
I never thought I’d feel that way.

Have a go at using provare in conversation this week, and see if you can prove yourself.

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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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.