Parole Curiose, le soluzioni e una leggenda molto interessante. Posted by on Apr 25, 2009 in Italian Language

(Unusual words, the answers and a very interesting legend.)

Well done everyone who had a go at my little quiz called ‘Parole Curiose’. It was, admittedly, quite hard and no one has attempted to answer all the questions.

Let’s begin with the answers, and then I want to tell you a story related to one of them.


1. What is the shortest word in the Italian language that contains all five vowels (aeiou)? You will find a clue at the end of my blog Un po’ di giardinaggio

The answer: aiuole. Several people came close to getting this correct, but only Cathy realized that in order to contain all five vowels the word aiuola needs to be pluralized because otherwise it lacks an ‘e’.

2. Which Italian word has six i’s and no other vowels? (clue: prime numbers have this quality)

The answer: indivisibili. Oh Cathy, if only you had pluralized your answer this time! Indivisibili is the plural of indivisibile (undividable/inseparable) e.g. sono due amici indivisibili (they are two inseparable friends).

3. Which Italian word has the most o’s? (clue: politicians are very good at doing this whenever a proposal is made)

The  answer: contropropongono (they propose against), now perhaps you understand the clue.

4. Name at least two Italian words that have five a’s. (clue: one of these is potentially explosive, another may require an exorcist, yet another will be useful if you’ve lost a dog)

The answers: well I can’t do any better than give you the list that the intrepid Bella posted in her comment:

Allora, per quanto riguarda le parole che hanno 5 “a”…..abracadabra (e grazie al dizionario!) 🙂  eccole!  :

Grazie Bella

Let me explain the clues: ‘one of these is potentially explosive’ Santabarbara (munitions magazine)

‘another may require an exorcist’ assatanata (satanised); Bella’s list doesn’t include this one.

yet another will be useful if you’ve lost a dog accalappiacani (dog catcher)

5. Which word is considered to be the longest in Italian? (clue: it has 26 letters and it happens very quickly!)

The answer: precipitevolissimevolmente. Ironically this word which takes 15 minutes to say means something like ‘extremely hastily’! (well done Natasha)

6. Which is the longest Italian word with no repeating letters? (clue: you can find them at the circus, they have very good balance)

The answer: funamboleschi (the masculine plural of the adjective ‘acrobatic’ e.g. Laura sta facendo gli esercizi funamboleschi (Laura is doing acrobatic exercises)


And now after all that hard work, a little story. It seems that just about everything here in Italy has a legend attached to it, and the santabarbara is no exception.

Why, you may ask, is a munitions magazine named after a Saint? Ecco la leggenda.

Santa Barbara was born into a Pagan family in Nicomedia, Asia Minor, during the third century A.D. At some point her family moved to Scandriglia in the Italian province of Rieti. The legend tells us that Barbara’s jealous father Dioscuro wanted to ensconce his daughter in a tower to protect her from her suitors, and in order that Barbara shouldn’t have to attend the public baths he even intended to build her a private one!

One day Barbara’s mother revealed to her daughter that she had secretly embraced the Christian religion. After hearing her mother’s revelations and prayers Barbara felt Jesus enter her heart and became a Christian herself. When Barbara saw the plans for the tower that her father intended to construct for her she realized that it only had two windows. Taking matters into her own hands Barbara ordered the architects to add a third window in order to commemorate the Christian Trinity. Dioscuro, seeing the modifications to his plans, immediately realized their significance and knew that his daughter had become a Christian.

Dioscuro denounced his daughter to the Roman Magistrate, the punishment at that time for conversion to Christianity being decapitation. The magistrate ordered Dioscuro to carry out the execution himself. According to the legend, on the fourth of December in the year 306 Dioscuro decapitated his daughter. Immediately after the execution however he was struck down and killed by lightning, an event that was interpreted as divine punishment for his cruel act.

Hence Barbara became a Christian martyr and saint who, due to the manner of her father’s death, is evoked as a protectress against sudden death by fire and explosions. Because of this, places where explosives are stored are often called santabarbara in her honor. Barbara is the patron saint of miners, of those who work with explosives and in fact anyone who risks sudden violent death. In the military services she is protectress of the Marina Militare Italiana (The Italian Navy), I Vigili del Fuoco (The Fire Brigade), L’Artiglieria (the artillery) and Il Genio (the military engineers). In paintings and sculptures she is very often represented standing next to, or even holding, a tower.

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  1. Bella:

    Ah, ah, ah, Serena…assatanata??? Sei proprio discolaccia! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Se poi usi il femminile degli aggettivi invece di usare soltanto i sostantivi…devi aggiungere anche queste parole:


    (ho un dizionario che ha un’ottima ricerca! Anch’io sono discolaccia!)

    Quello che scrivi e` sempre molto interessante…mi piace molto! Fai un buon lavoro..imparo molte nuove cose. Inoltre si intuisce che sei una persona molto in gamba…e molto simpatica! Grazie!

  2. Robert Tye:

    This sounds better in Italian.
    La bellezza è negli occhi di chi guarda, altrimentii non ci sarebbero hippopotami.

  3. jo ingham:

    Found your page by accident and love it. I was looking for information on the marble statues on the Campdoglio in Rome ‘Dioscuri’ typed in the word and low and behold found your fantasticsite.

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