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Italian expression of the day: 'Dimmi tutto'

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Italian expression of the day: 'Dimmi tutto'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Let us tell you all about this Italian phrase.


The Italian language has no shortage of words and phrases that can quickly convey a surprising depth of meaning.

Today’s everyday phrase is one of them: dimmi tutto literally means 'tell me everything' and it’s just what it sounds like: an invitation to share your thoughts.

But we don’t quite have an equivalent phrase in English. 

Dimmi tutto is an expression of curiosity and interest in hearing someone's complete story, with all its details and nuances - whether it’s about their disastrous love life, their travel adventures, or just the technical issues they’re having with their wifi connection.

The phrase is formed from the verb dire ('to say or tell') in the imperative, with the pronoun mi (me) added as a suffix, plus tutto ('everything').

It’s the sort of phrase you’d probably expect to hear from a close friend or family member. In that context, it can mean: "I'm here for you. You can share anything with me.” From someone you’re getting to know better, it could show a desire to connect on a more profound level.

Less romantically, you're also likely to hear it from your Italian boss, colleague, or teacher. You could hear it if you call an Italian technical service hotline, visit the doctor, or approach any sort of advisor or expert for help.

Count yourself lucky if you do hear it in these contexts, since it means you have the listener’s full attention and that they sincerely want to hear what you have to say. Whatever the topic - technical, trivial, or emotional - hearing a warm dimmi tutto should take a weight off your shoulders.

The concept might seem a bit touchy-feely to those of us from colder climes, unused as we are to having strangers, colleagues and professionals (or even loved ones) declare that we have their unfailing attention.

But perhaps it's not surprising that such a phrase is used in Italy, where relationships are highly valued and trust is paramount in pretty much any situation. Using a phrase like dimmi tutto can be seen as a way of building trust by assuring someone that you’re ready to listen.


It’s also used generally to indicate sincere curiosity and interest, whatever the situation. For example, it’s the sort of thing you might say when a friend returns from a trip abroad and you want to hear all about it.

Of course, most Italian speakers will just use this phrase naturally to mean 'tell me more' without over-analysing it.

Even more commonly, you'll hear this phrase informally shortened to an (equally warm) dimmi.

For example, you could have the following exchange with your Italian teacher:

- ho una domanda
- dimmi

- I have a question
- Go on, I'm listening


The literally-translated response "tell me" in English would sound pretty abrupt. But in Italian, dimmi invariably manages to sound cute and caring.

You might even be greeted with a friendly dimmi at the coffee bar, when you catch the attention of a busy barista who wants your order.

In all of these situations, the person is saying that they're listening and they're interested in what you're saying - all of that conveyed in just two little words, or even two syllables.

Do you have a favourite Italian word or phrase you'd like us to feature on The Local? Dimmi tutto.

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