Italian word of the day: ‘Forestiero’

You won't be a stranger to this word by the time we're through...

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

A forestiero (FOR-EST-ee-EH-roh) isn’t, as you might reasonably guess, a lumberjack or a wood-dwelling hermit.

It’s Italian for a foreigner, outsider, stranger, out-of-towner, sojourner, or guest.

The word comes from the Occitan (a language spoken in the Occitanie region of southern France) word forestier, which itself comes from the Latin foris, meaning outside (the Italian word for outside, fuori (FWOR-ree) also comes from foris).

Forestiero is a slightly poetic or old-timey way to refer to an outsider – for example, it’s often used as the translation for ‘stranger’ in westerns that have been dubbed into Italian:

È meglio che tu vada avanti, forestiero.
You’d better move on, stranger.

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And is how strangers are often referred to in the Italian translation of the bible:

Ero forestiero e mi avete ospitato – Matteo 25, 43
I was a stranger and you welcomed me – Matthew 25:43

It’s a regular noun, so its o ending changes to the usual a/i/e depending on whether the subject is masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

Non importa per quanto tempo sia stata qui, rimarrà sempre una forestiera.
It doesn’t matter how long she’s been here, she’ll always be an outsider.

Sa come accogliere i forestieri nel migliore dei modi.
She knows how to welcome outsiders in the best possible way.

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There’s several Italian words related to forestiero: according to the Treccani dictionary, a foresteria (FOR-EST-eh-REE-ah) is a space in a convent reserved for guests, and can also be used to describe accommodation made available by companies and organisations for guests or staff members visiting from elsewhere.

A forestierismo (FOR-EST-ee-ehr-EEZ-moh) is a word or phrase taken from one language and adopted into another as an ‘outsider word’ (such as laissez-faire or rendezvous in English).

And then (though you’d be very unlikely to actually come across it these days) there’s forestieraccio (FOR-EST-ee-eh-RATCH-oh) – a pejorative variation of forestiero.

Ma cosa sta facendo questo forestieraccio?
What on earth is this idiot outsider doing?

The word foriestiero/foresteria by itself isn’t an insult though – and is a poetic alternative to have on hand if you’re sick of identifying yourself as a straniero/a (foreigner).

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.

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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.