Italian word of the day: ‘Adocchiare’

We've got our eyes on this word.

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

“You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you…”

We could be referring to an alluring object of our affection, that bag we’ve been lusting after, or a particularly delicious cake.

In all cases, we’re eyeing up something we covet, or in Italian, the verb to replace the English phrasal verb is adocchiare (a-dok-yAHR-eh).

Non fa altro che adocchiare le ragazze.

He’s too busy eyeing up the girls.

Ma niente cioccolatini senza di me, ti ho visto adocchiare quelli che ho comprato ieri.

But no chocolates without me. I saw you eyeing up the ones I bought yesterday.


In these examples, we could translate the verb as ‘eye up’ or ‘to have one’s eyes on’.

Like in English, you can see the derivation – adocchiare contains the part of the word for eye, occhio.

But it’s not always used to express desire for something or someone. It can also simply mean to spot, like you’ve noticed something or can see something if you pay attention.

E se guardate attentamente, potrete adocchiare le rovine dell’antico castello che ha dato il nome alla nostro comune.

And, if you look closely, you can spot the remains of the old castle, after which our town is named.

Se stiamo zitti, possiamo adocchiare uno scoiattolo o addirittura un piccolo capriolo.

If we’re quiet, we can spot a squirrel or even a roe deer.

Se aguzzi la vista, potresti anche adocchiare personaggi ricchi e famosi tra la folla.

If you pay attention, you could also spot rich and famous people in the crowds.

You could also translate it as ‘catch sight of something or someone’.

I miei amici, quando adocchiarono mia sorella, non smisero di battibeccare su chi la dovesse invitare ad un’uscita.

When they caught sight of my sister, my friends did not stop bickering about who should invite her out.

So now you know what word to drop in the next time you’re eyeing up your cute neighbour or a scrummy dessert.

Do you have an 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: ‘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.