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Italian word of the day: ‘Scorciatoia’

Struggling with your Italian? We'll teach you a shortcut.

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

When it comes to slogging your way through Italian grammar, it’s tempting to look for a shortcut that will save you having to memorise those myriad verb endings.

We can’t help you with that, unfortunately – but we can teach you the Italian word for shortcut, which is scorciatoia (scorch-a-TOY-a).

Di qua, conosco una scorciatoia attraverso il campo.
This way, I know a shortcut through the field.

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Hai detto che questa era una scorciatoia e ora siamo in ritardo di 20 minuti.
You said this was a shortcut and now we’re 20 minutes late.

It comes from the (now old-fashioned) verb scorciare, meaning to shorten or foreshorten. You probably won’t encounter that word very much, but you’re more likely to come across the related noun uno scorcio, meaning ‘a glimpse’ (literally, something like a ‘shortened view’).

Just like in English, you can ‘take’ (prendere) a shortcut:

Prendiamo una scorciatoia per il giardino.
Let’s take a shortcut through the garden.

And a ‘keyboard shortcut’ is just that: a ‘scorciatoia da tastiera’ (SCORCH-a-TOY-a da tast-ee-EH-rah), which can simply be shortened to scorciatoia (the meaning is understood from context).

Si può sottolineare il testo con una semplice scorciatoia da tastiera in Microsoft Word.
You can underline text with a simple keyboard shortcut in Microsoft Word.

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As una scorciatoia is a feminine noun, it’s made plural by swapping out the a ending for an e to make scorciatoie (SCORCH-a-TOY-eh).

Non ci sono scorciatoie, questo è sicuro.
There are no shortcuts, that much is certain.

Just like in English, a scorciatoia can be metaphorical as well as literal, and can carry the negative connotation of getting somewhere fast by sacrificing quality or necessary effort.

Quando si tratta della qualità, non prendiamo scorciatoie.
When it comes to quality, we don’t cut corners.

Non vuole arrivare al successo usando scorciatoie.
She doesn’t want to take a shortcut to success.

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There might not be any easy shortcuts when it comes to learning Italian – but at least now you know how to express your desire for one.

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For members


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.

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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.

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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.