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Italian Idioms pt. 2 Posted by on Feb 21, 2020 in Culture, Italian Language

Italian Idioms, pt. 2

Stare con le mani in mano – “To stay with your hands in hand” 

When you think of Italians, I’m sure one of the first things you think of are the fact that they gesticulate constantly with their hands. (One stereotype that’s very true, albeit maybe a bit exaggerated at times..) This expression, meaning to stand around with your hands, means that you are doing the exact opposite, assolutamente niente! Absolutely nothing!

Imagine you are working hard cleaning or preparing for a dinner party – your friend is sitting there not helping. An appropriate thing to say would be “non stare lì con le mani in mano, aiutami!” Or, you arrive to said party empty-handed (another cultural no-no) “è arrivato con le mani in mano.” He arrived empty handed. Che vergogna! What shame!

Evita di essere pigro o maleducato, non stare con le mani in mano! Avoid being lazy or rude, don’t just stand there with your hands!

Chiodo scaccia chiodo – “Nail drives away nail”

A strange image.. someone sitting driving away, nail after nail, unsuccessfully. Essentially what this idiom represents is the idea that after some sort of experience is over (say, a relationship) all you need to do to superarlo, to get over it, is to grab another nail and jump right into another relationship.

La soluzione è la sostituzione, giusto? Sbagliato! Ma è sempre piu facile prendere un altro chiodo… chiodo scaccia chiodo! The solution is substitution, right? Wrong! But it’s always easier to grab another nail… nail drives away nail!

I do kinda like the imagery of it, it makes me think that you should just go on building something, anything else, even if it’ll fail.

Non avere peli sulla lingua – “To not have hair on the tongue”

We all know someone who will say things without filters, or without any real regard to your feelings. This person can be described as not having hair on their tongues, they just tell it like it is. It’s used negatively, but some people can consider it a positive. Would you rather someone lie to your face, or just say it with brutal honestly? Up for debate. Hai peli sulla lingua? Do you have hair on your tongue?

Acqua in bocca – “Water in mouth” 

This is like saying in English “mums the word” or even “zip it!” You just told your friend un segreto, a secret, they better tenere l’acqua in bocca e non ripeterlo. Keep the water in the mouth, and don’t repeat it.

Siete pronti ad usare queste espressioni? Are you all ready to use these expressions?

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  1. Geraldine M. Cappuccio:

    Grazie, me piace le expressioni. Me piace su site.

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