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Italian word of the day: ‘Affluenza’

What might this word turn out to mean?

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

Yes, in English it’s a risible legal defence used by rich criminals to avoid a prison sentence. 

But in Italian affluenza is something else entirely: it means attendance or turnout; most commonly, voter turnout.

Sembra che l’affluenza sia in forte calo.
There seems to be a sharp decline in turnout.

Speriamo che l’affluenza sarà più elevata questa volta.
We hope that the turnout will be higher this time.

That’s not its only use, however: affluenza also refers to a flow, as in a literal flow of water:

L’affluenza di acqua è più bassa che mai quest’anno.
The flow of water is lower than ever this year.

Or a figurative flow or influx, such as economic or migratory movements:

Negli ultimi anni l’economia ha beneficiato di un’affluenza di lavoratori dall’estero.
In the last few years the economy has benefitted from an influx of workers from abroad.

Based on these uses of the word, you can hazard a good guess as to where our ‘affluence’ originates: it’s from the Latin affluentia, meaning an abundant flow, a copiousness, or an extravagance.

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We do in fact retain the alternative definition of ‘affluence’ in English to mean an influx of people or things (e.g., “Venice receives an affluence of visitors from all over the world”) – it just sounds a little outdated to modern ears.

If you want to say ‘affluence’ in Italian?

You could use any of benessere, agiatezza, richezza, or opulenza.

Nonostante la loro agiatezza, spendono pochissimo, risparmiando tutto il loro patrimonio per la pensione.
Despite their affluence they spend very little money, saving all their wealth for their retirement.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking affluente means ‘affluent’ either – there, you’d be talking about a tributary of a river. Instead, you’ll want agiatobenestante, or ricco.

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Do you have an 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: ‘Quanto meno’

At least give this Italian word a try.

Italian word of the day: 'Quanto meno'

Here’s a useful adverb to have on hand when practicing your conversational Italian: quanto meno.

It can be used in a couple of different ways, but most commonly means ‘at least’.

We’re calling this a word rather than an expression because although ‘quanto meno’ is slightly more common in contemporary Italian, it can equally be written as ‘quantomeno’.

In many contexts, quanto meno and almeno are effectively synonyms. The only difference is that almeno simply means ‘at least’, while quanto meno sometimes implies a more emphatic ‘at the very least’ or ‘as a minimum’.

Mi potevi almeno accompagnare alla stazione.
You could have at least accompanied me to the station.

Se avessi saputo prima avrei potuto quanto meno darvi una mano.
If I had known earlier I would have at least been able to give you a hand.

Il traffico sulla strada per Como è stato tremendo.
Quanto meno avete avuto bel tempo.

The traffic on the way to Como was terrible.
– At least you had good weather.

At Least You Tried Trash GIF - At Least You Tried Trash Bart Simpson GIFs

In other situations, however, quanto meno takes on a different meaning, becoming ‘to say the least’:

I suoi piani sono quanto meno avventurosi.
Her plans are adventurous to say the least.

I risultati sono preoccupanti, quanto meno.
The results are disturbing, to say the least.

There’s a third word that’s another synonym for ‘at least’: perlomeno. You’ll sometimes see it separated out into three words: per lo meno. Again, it can often be used more or less interchangeably with almeno.

Vorrei prendere perlomeno una settimana di vacanza quest’estate.
I want to take at least one week off this summer.

Perlomeno and quanto meno can also both mean something like ‘at any rate’.

Non verrebbe mai a trovarmi a casa, perlomeno.
She would never come to visit me at home, in any event.

Sei molto più in forma di me, quanto meno.
You’re in much better shape than me, at any rate.

None of these are to be confused with the quite different tanto meno, which means ‘much less’:

Non ho mai incontrato Laura, tanto meno sua sorella.
I’ve never met Laura, much less her sister.

Può a mala pena dirlo, tanto meno farlo.
He can barely say it, much less do it.

Got all that? Now see if you can fit quanto menoperlomeno and almeno into at least one conversation this week.

See our complete Word of the Day archive here. Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.