10 Profane Italian Idioms & Expressions
You know Italian or you’re learning, but you probably have yet to master, what I call, the funny stuff: the vulgar and offensive phrases you only learn from the locals. You don’t want to necessarily use them, unless it’s to make your Italian friends/enemies laugh, as coming from a foreigner’s mouth they’re more hilarious than offensive. But, if you will be spending time in Italy, you should at least know what some of them look like, right?
I’ve collected ten expressions that are vulgar, colloquial and very figurative.
Warning: Highly inflammatory language
1. De li mortacci tua! (Rome)
It literally means, “Damn the souls of your dead ancestors.” Yikes. Family is a big deal in Italy; if you insult it, be prepared for a possible knuckle sandwich.
A very reactive phrase, used mostly in Rome, it’s understood throughout Italy. When I lived in Rome, I heard it yelled in traffic situations. As most of you probably know, the traffic in Rome is horrendous, enough to compel you to use an insult that digs deep into someone’s ancestry.
2. Ti parcheggio le mani in faccia! (Rome)
Literally: I’ll park my hands in your face! Meaning: I’ll punch your lights out. Ladies, I know this one will be really tempting to use, especially in the club when the lame-o’s are totally not getting the hint to bugger off.
And, if someone happens to say it to you, buddha forbid, the ultimate response could be pointing at a no parking sign: Oh! Ma c’e’ scritto ‘no parking!’ (But, it says no parking!)
3. Cazzo in culo non far figli, ma fa male se lo pigli
Translation: similar to what Walter (from The Big Lebowski) says: Getting f***ed in the a** doesn’t lead to getting knocked up, but it still hurts if you take it. It’s a funny expression in Italian also because it rhymes.
You would use it, for example, when you get a promotion but your workload doubles. Basically, it’s good in any catch 22 situation.
4. Spaccare il culo ai passeri!
Literally: smash the little birds asses, also, smash the asses so hard they split in two. You would say this when someone is so good at something, like when a football player is making goal after goal without fail. He/She is splitting the asses of the little birds!
5. Una botta gliela (or glielo) darei
Translates into: Yeah, I’d hit that OR I’d tap that a**
6. Non prendermi per il culo
My gosh, a lot of these phrases include il culo (the ass). I guess if you think about it, it’s a pretty dirty thing. Anyway, this expression is used like: “Don’t f*** around with me!” It’s the right response for when someone continues to joke and tease you to the point that it’s extremely irritating. It literally means, “Don’t take me from my ass!”
7. Hai una scopa in culo? (or Sei una scopa in culo!)
If you use “hai,” you’re asking, “do you have a broom stuck up your ass?” It’s similar to our expression for when someone is a bit uptight and stuck up; we would say, he/she has a stick up their you-know-what. If you use “sei,” it’s simply affirming that they are in fact stuck up.
8. Quella e’ una figa di legno
I hope you never have to hear this one. It basically describes an untouchable woman with a figa (vagina) made of legna (wood). :/ It’s when a woman is so unreachable, like a supermodel, that you would never be able to even get within five meters of her. Sidenote: be careful when you ask for a fig (fico, not figa) in the market – the slightest variation could mean you are asking for a half kilo of the notorious V.A.G.
9. Se e’ franco, ungimi tutto
Franco is like another way of saying free of tax (FOB, Franco on bordo). It comes from a religious reference, a diminutive of “Francesco,” and means “the free one.” Basically, it means: if it’s free, grease me up with it. So, it’s a bit offensive because you’re essentially saying: if it’s free like Franco, grease me up with it, so I can take advantage of the fact it’s free.
10. Ghe sboro! (Venice)
It’s used like the common: “cavolo!” (damn!) But, this is a Venetian expression. Normal for them, it can sound offensive to the rest of Italians; the slightest variation in the ending, saying “sbora” instead of “sboro,” could mean, um…how do I say this…sperm. Yes, it would sound like you are instead exclaiming “What a sperm!” :/
(Article written by Coral: food blogger at http://curiousappetite.wordpress.com/ tweeting @curiousappetite)