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Italian word of the day: ‘Pantofolaio’

This word describes a certain type of comfortable lifestyle.

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

A pantofolaio  – roughly pronounced ‘pahn-toh-foh-lay-oh’, click here to hear it – is defined as a “person who spends life in their slippers”.

In English, you might lovingly refer to this person a “homebody”, or more rudely as a “couch potato”.

The Italian word pantofolaio is derived from the word for slippers (pantofole), and it describes a person who prefers a quiet life – in the comfort of their own home.

The word has been around for decades, and some say it comes from the French pantouflard, which means exactly the same thing.

It’s a way of living that some of us adopt as the weather gets colder – and one that we might be all too familiar with from 2020.

I lockdown sono stati difficili, anche per i pantofolai a cui non piace uscire

The lockdowns were hard, even for the homebodies who don’t like going out

It also suggests that a person might be particular about their habits, and somewhat set in their ways.

While some people might use it as a mild insult, we probably all know one person who’s happiest at home with a good book – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Non so se andranno d’accordo. Lei è una pantofolaia e non le piace andare alle feste, mentre lui è sempre in giro.

I don’t know if they will get along. She is a homebody and doesn’t like going to parties, whereas he is always out and about.

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Italian word of the day: ‘Ciofeca’

Here’s a useful word for when you just can’t stomach your drink.

Italian word of the day: ‘Ciofeca’

Who hasn’t at least once in their lives experienced the feeling of utter disappointment and existential despair that comes with opening a drink at the end of a hard day at work and finding it absolutely undrinkable?

Though the English language has no shortage of nouns for undrinkable drinks (swill, slop, bilge water, etc.), Italians also have a number of words suited to the occasion.

While schifezza (crap) and porcheria (filth) are valuable options, today’s word, ciofeca (pronunciation available here) is the more specific word you might want to use in this scenario.

Ciofeca is generally used for any drink which tastes so bad it is undrinkable, especially bad coffee and bad wine

Perché stai facendo quella faccia?
‘Sto caffè è una ciofeca… 
Why are you making that face?
This coffee is swill…

Non ci tornerò mai in quel posto. Il vino che abbiamo preso l’ultima volta era una ciofeca. 
I’m not going back to that place. The wine we got last time was hogwash.

As for the word’s etymology, scholars have hypothesised that ciofeca might derive from the Arabic word šafaq’, which means ‘bad drink’, or from the Spanish ‘chufa’, the type of almond used to make syrup. 

What’s certain is that the Italian version of the word first appeared in Naples and then spread to the rest of the peninsula over time.

It’s also widely believed that the ‘nationalisation’ of the noun happened largely thanks to legendary comedian Totò, who used the word ciofeca in his sketches and movies.

Nowadays, the word is used all over Italy and, in some instances, its scope has been extended to indicate anything of poor quality, not just drinks.

In these cases, ‘ciofeca’ might be translated into English as ‘rubbish’ or ‘garbage’. 

Mi hanno regalato un aspirapolvere senza filo per il mio compleanno.
Ah, com’è?
E’ una ciofeca… 
They got me a cordless vacuum cleaner for my birthday.
Oh, how is it?
It’s rubbish…

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