For members


Italian word of the day: ‘Fastidio’

We hope you don't mind if we take you through a brief explanation of this word.

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

If you ever hear someone described as fastidioso (‘fast-eed-ee-OH-zoh) in Italian, it doesn’t mean they’re fastidious.

Instead, it means annoying or bothersome.

Mio fratellino è molto fastidioso.
My little brother is very annoying.

Siete tutti davvero fastidiosi.
You are all really annoying.

È estremamente fastidioso che l’autobus sia sempre in ritardo di almeno 30 minuti.
It’s extremely annoying that the bus is always at least 30 minutes late.

Really Annoying Real Housewives Of Orange County GIF - Really Annoying Real Housewives Of Orange County Super Annoying GIFs

The adjective comes from the noun fastidio (‘fast-EED-ee-oh’), meaning bother, hassle, annoyance, discomfort, or inconvenience; which in turn comes from the Latin fastidium, meaning loathing or disgust. 

Fastidium is thought to be a crossover of fastus, meaning something like pride or disdain, and taedium, meaning tedium; so you can see how we got both the modern Italian sense of ‘annoying’ and the modern English sense of ‘overly concerned with detail’ from the original.

The noun fastidio is generally used in combination with the verb dare (‘to give’), to talk about ‘giving someone’ trouble or annoyance by bothering them or putting them out; one of the most common uses is to ask someone whether they ‘mind’ something.

Ti da fastidio se lasciamo i bagagli qua per qualche ora?
Do you mind if we leave our bags here for a few hours?

– Luca, vieni da me e lascia la signora in pace.
– Tranquilla, non mi da fastidio.

– Luca, come here and leave the lady in peace.
– Don’t worry, he’s not bothering me.

Voglio sapere perché ti da così tanto fastidio.
I want to know why it bothers you so much.

Bake Off Italia Fastidio GIF - Bake Off Italia Fastidio Mi Da Fastidio GIFs

Another way to talk about getting annoyed is via the related verb infastidire. As with the Italian verb annoiarsi (to get/be bored; literally: ‘bore oneself’), you can infastidirsi (‘get annoyed’; literally: annoy oneself), or something specific can be the source of your irritation:

Mi infastidisco quando leggo cose del genere sui giornali.
I get annoyed when I read things like that in the news.

Perché ultimamente ti infastidisco?
Why are you getting annoyed with me lately? (literally, “why am I annoying you lately?”)

Si infastidisce ogni volta che cerco di parlarne.
She gets annoyed every time I try to bring it up.

That’s enough bother for one day: see if you can get fastidio in to a conversation this week without putting yourself out too much.

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
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.