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Italian word of the day: 'Sveglia'

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected]
Italian word of the day: 'Sveglia'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This word is a wake up call.


If you struggle to get up in the mornings, you might need to enlist the help of a sveglia - that is, an alarm clock.

Svegliare is to wake up in Italian, so you can think of a sveglia as a 'waker-upper'.

Scusate il ritardo, la mia sveglia non ha suonato.
Sorry I'm late, my alarm clock didn't go off.

Puoi svegliarmi prima di partire?
Can you wake me up before you leave?

Vegliare is a fairly old-fashioned Italian word meaning to keep watch or vigil over something, or to stay awake.

While adding an 's' to the start of a word often turns it into its opposite in Italian (add 's' to fortunato, fortunate, and it becomes sfortunato, unfortunate) here it simply adds emphasis and turns it from an intransitive into a transitive verb.

That just means svegliare needs an object - someone or something to wake up. When you talk about waking up in the morning, in Italian we use the reflexive verb svegliarsi: literally, to wake oneself up.

Mi sono svegliato tardi questa mattina.
I woke up late this morning.

Si è svegliata solo alle 11.30.
She didn't wake up until 11.30am.

Wake up!

Sveglia Svegliati Scendi Dal Letto Roberto Benigli GIF - Wake Up Get Up Get Out Of Bed GIFs Source: Tenor

Svegliare is usually used in a literal sense to mean waking up from sleep, but it can also be used in a more figurative sense.

Questo podcast ti sveglia la mente.
This podcast awakens your mind.


Similarly, sveglio/a can also be used to describe a person who is sharp, alert, or bright. Bear in mind that when used as an adjective, you'll need to change the ending to agree with the subject.

Giuseppe è un ragazzo sveglio.
Giuseppe's a bright kid.

Non aveva mai visto una bambina così sveglia.
She'd never seen such a smart little girl.

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