What do I mean by “Down and Dirty Italian?”
I mean oft-used Italian words, phrases, and expressions pertaining to expletives, bodily functions, partying, gossiping, dating, sex, and much more. I’m not sharing this post to be provocative, in case you’re wondering. I’m sharing this to help inform you as to the full Italian experience if you plan to spend more than passing time in Italy. You’ll find much of this Italian lingo useful and safe to use. But, other things, particularly cussing, is offered to inform and help you understand conversations. I caution against using such words and phrases. No, that’s dangerous stuff, putting such verbal ammunition in the hands and mouths of babes. Leave it to the Italians.
Hide This Italian Book by Berlitz
A friend and former colleague gave me this book when he heard that I was making my way to a life in Italy. He explained that this “black book” contained the down and dirty Italian that would be absent in most Italian language studies. At the time, I gleefully accepted, thinking I’d get a kick out of reading about the less sanctified parts of the language, particularly cussing in Italian. Then, as I dug in, I realized that the book covered so much more relating to relaxed conversations between friends. I understood that this would be a valuable resource.
Italians “swear” with great fluidity.
I’m starting with this area of down and dirty Italian since cussing in Italian is frequent. I’ve been told by Italians that they use their expletives like water. And I’d thought that Americans were masters of the potty mouth. Nope. Italians win the day in this department. As I’ve continued to tune my ear to understanding casual conversations and banter, these words and phrases are becoming increasingly evident.
I was actually surprised that many of the worst phrases were NOT included in my edition of Hide this Italian Book. Perhaps the new edition goes deeper and comes with X-rating.
Don’t assume that cussing in Italian is reserved for the younger generations. I remember, quick clearly, my shock when I discovered that a friend, a woman well into her eighties and a regular church-goer, used phrases that would be considered sacrilege in the English equivalents. In her home, she had photos of saints and popes everywhere.
I’m guessing that many of you are dying for examples of what I’m talking about. But, I’m not quite comfortable doing so, other than one example that I find humorous in its literal translation:
“Figlio di buona donna!” – Translation, “Son of a bitch!” Literal translation: “Son of a good woman.”
Sorry, to disappoint by not providing other examples, but you’ll have to buy the book and do your own research since I don’t want to turn this into an X-rated blog! If you’re looking for a really quick overview, Wikipedia delivers with its “Italian Profanity” overview.
“The Italian language is a language with a large set of inflammatory terms and phrases, almost all of which originate from the several dialects and languages of Italy…”
Warning, if you prudish or are easily offended, you might want to turn back here…
Bodily functions and texting.
I love photos that encompass two concepts. And we know how these two things can be “buddies.” Teehee!
Berlitz’s book of down and dirty Italian covers everything, from the more polite way of excusing oneself to a somewhat “raw” announcement of one’s bathroom intentions! Below is one of my favorites because, to me, its a humorous way saying, “I’m going to do a big job.”
“Devo andare di corpo.” Translation: “I need to poop.” Literal translation: “I need to give from the body.”
And, when it comes to the down and dirty Italian of texting, here are a few examples (short and sweet):
“Dove 6?” [Dove sei?] “Where are you?”
“C ved dopo!” [Ci vediamo dopo!] “See you later!”
“TVTB” [Ti voglio tanto bene] “I love you very much. (used by friends and lovers)
Let’s talk partying in Italy.
There plenty to cover here, and the down and dirty Italian pointers cover everything from making a toast, to pick up lines, to being hungover. The lingo is plentiful, and here are just a few examples that you’ll find in Hide this Italian Book.
“Andiamo a prendere l’apertivo?” — “Shall we go to have an aperitif?”
“Andiamo a farci l’ammazzacaffè?” — “Should we have a stiff drink?” Literally: “Should we have a coffee killer?”
“Ti va uscire stasera?” — “Do you want to go out tonight?”
And, when it comes to drinking…
Down and dirty Italian pointers tell you how to say “cheers,” and refer to over-consumption of alcohol and the ensuing hangover.
“Alla goccia!” — “To the (last) drop!”
“Lui è fuori come un culo.” — “He’s out like an ass.”
“Ho bevuto da fare schifo!” — “I drank so much, it’s gross!”
“Ho una gran cassa.” — “I’m so hungover.” Literally: “I have a big case.”
Italian gossip is quite the pastime.
If you want to participate, you might want to learn the lingo. In my experience, Italians adore their gossip and they love speculating. It may be why the conjunctive form of verbs (which don’t exist in English) follow (if used accurately) by statements like “I believe,” “I think,” “It looks as though…” After all, we’re talking about rumors, not hard facts, right?
Here a few down and dirty Italian examples of initiating some juicy gossip:
“La sai l’ultima?!” — “Have you heard the latest?!”
“Acqua in bocca.” — “Keep it quiet.” Literally: “Water in mouth.”
“Portatelo nella tomba.” — “Take it to the tomb.”
“Non ci crederai, ma…” — “You won’t believe it, but…”
Italian lingo for love and sex.
Take heart, if you’re of a sanctified nature, there are plenty of safe, usable Italian phrases, like:
“Mi piace da morire.” — “I adore you.” Literally: “I like you to death.”
“Mi da un bacio.” — “Give me a kiss.”
“Lui è un cavaliere.” — “He is a gentlemen.”
For the seamier side of hooking up, there’s even more. In particular, what makes me laugh in the down and dirty Italian is the verb “trombare,” which can mean two very different things: 1. Playing the trumpet. 2. Having casual sex. I guess it all comes down to context, huh? I won’t go into specific examples since this is where I need to keep this post R-rated.
Here’s a tactful and elegant way to say “We did it.”
“Abbiamo passato la notte assieme.” — “We spent the night together.”
And, what about referring to people with less than sterling reputations?
“Lui èu n animale da letto.” — “He’s sex animal.” Literally: “He’s an animal for bed.”
“Un ragazza di facili costumi.” — “A slut.” Literally: “A girl of easy virtue.”
Hide this Italian Book also covers important matters of safe sex and contraception. These are essential topics of Italian lingo, especially if you’re single and looking to date and or hookup in Italy.
That, my friends, is just a tiny sampling of down and dirty Italian.
I encourage you to do a deeper dive with the aforementioned and lesser-know Berlitz book, especially if you plan to live in Italy. I like knowing what is being said and what is going on around me. A few times I’ve caught Italians making snide comments about me, assuming I’m just an ignorant Italian. It hasn’t happened often, but when it has, I’ve busted them with knowing glances or comments demonstrating that I have more than a passing command of the language. Arm yourself accordingly!
And, if you’re keen on continuing to learn common Italian expressions and idioms, I encourage you to check out my Italian Snippets!