Did you know that knowing your slang words can be the difference between sounding like a robot and building a genuine connection?
Often, we use slang words in English without even thinking about it consciously. Nevertheless, it’s these idioms and sayings that help our friends, co-workers, or even strangers better relate to us. You instantly feel that the person using these words feel comfortable enough to express these slang words.
Well, you may have guessed by now that Italian is no different. In fact, if you’re new to learning Italian, one of the quickest ways to sound like a native speaker is to learn slang phrases. Best of all, you won’t need to annoy your friends (or your date) what he or she is trying to say every time!
What are idioms?
Is this your first time hearing about slang words or idioms? These are just informal words or phrases to express something that does not translate directly. For example, a common English expression is to say ‘break a leg!’ to wish someone good luck.
Doesn’t break a leg express something completely opposite? Yes exactly.
This is why it’s important not to take these phrases at face value. You’ll most often see slang words used when spoken versus written as it sounds more natural this way.
Why learn Italian slang?
One of the major benefits learning idioms is the ability to sound like a local. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and your knowledge can go a long way.
The side effect to this is that you’ll naturally feel more confident approaching Italian friends or co-workers. Think of these following words and phrases as a weapon in your toolbelt that you can use at your convenience.
17 Italian Slang Words to Be More Likeable
1. Ricco sfondato
Definition: Rolling in money
We say ‘baller’ in English, the Italians say ‘ricco sfondato.’ It means you have so much wealth that you’re rolling in cash.
2. A fagiolo
Definition: to the bean
This saying is similar to how we say ‘to the T’, which means you’re being very specific with it. If you’re hiring whether an accountant is qualified to work on your bookkeeping, you want that person to be ‘a fagiolo’.
Definition: No worries!
People will appreciate how patient you are when you tell them this. If you want to be more likeable to Italians, remember this one.
Definition: Afternoon nap
Just like the Spanish love to take their siestas in the afternoon (usually around 3pm), so do the Italians.
5. Essere un po’ di fuori
Definition: to be a little wacky
If you want to describe someone who is a bit out of their element or simply odd, this is what you’d say.
6. Fare il grande
Definition: to act like you’re a big shot
We all know that one person who acts like they’re bigger than they are. If you’re with some friends trying to describe this type of person, now you know what to say.
7. Avere un chiodo fisso in testa
Definition: to be fixated on something (Literal: to have a nail stuck on one’s head)
Often, the most successful people in the world in business, sports, or anything else are stubborn-minded people. They’re fixated on an idea or a concept that other people may doubt them for. It may sound negative to some people, but if you use this idiom as a compliment, someone will thank you for it.
8. Veloce come un razzo
Definition: to be as fast as lightning
Whether it’s a quick witted person or someone who’s actually physically fast, you can say ‘veloce come un razzo.’
9. Farsi una ragazza
Definition: to score with a girl
This is more for the gentlemen who may have gotten ‘lucky’ after a night out or a great first date.
10. Tutto sale e pepe
Definition: All good (Literal: all salt and pepper)
English speakers will sometimes say ‘it’s all salt and pepper baby’, which is meant to emphasize that things are all good. You can show people how easygoing you are but saying this.
The sound of this word itself sounds ‘cool’. Keep in mind that this word is not talking about temperature, but a way to describe how ‘hip’ something is.
12. Amore a prima vista
Definition: I just met you, and I love you
Perhaps a bit too forward to some, but if this is how you feel, why not express it? Think of this as a way of saying ‘love at first sight’.
13. Basta, basta
Definition: Enough, enough
Is someone really getting in you or your friend’s face? Or perhaps it’s someone trying to sell you something on the streets while you’re trying to enjoy a nice meal outside. Stand up for yourself or your friend by letting them know, enough is enough.
14. Essere nelle nuvole
Definition: to be in the clouds
Not necessarily a bad thing as daydreamers are known to be creatives. The meaning of this could go either way, but if you want to be nice to someone, you can describe someone who’s very imaginative by using this phrase.
15. Che figata
Definition: How cool! (Literal: what a big fig!)
When someone tells you a story, interesting fact, or good news, you can share your excitement and enthusiasm.
16. Mettere paglia al fuoco
Definition: to tempt fate (Literal: to put a straw in the fire)
For those that believe in karma, fate, and anything spiritual. This may be a great Italian idiom to remember.
Definition: I don’t know
Sometimes, pure transparency is the key to one’s heart. If you don’t know the answer to something, just be honest and let them know by saying ‘boh’.
Which of these Italian slang words did you find most valuable? Share it with a friend who you know is also learning how to speak Italian!
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