Italian Language Blog

Similitudini Posted by on Jul 17, 2011 in Culture, Grammar, Italian Language

A few days ago a reader wrote to me saying that he really enjoyed Italian similitudini (similes) such as cieco come una talpa (‘as blind as a mole’), and asked if I knew any more of them. Here is a list of some popular similitudini:

dormire come un ghiro (‘to sleep like a dormouse’)

furbo come una volpe (‘as cunning as a fox’)

muto come un pesce (‘as dumb as a fish’, meaning ‘close-mouthed’)

brutto come un rospo (‘as ugly as a toad’) or brutto come la fame (‘as ugly as hunger’)

lento come una lumaca (‘as slow as a snail’)

affamato come un lupo (‘as hungry as a wolf’)

forte come un toro (‘as strong as a bull’)

coraggioso come un leone (‘as brave as a lion’)

delicato come un fiore (‘as delicate as a flower’)

ballare come un orso (‘to dance like a bear’, meaning ‘to dance clumsily’)

benvenuto come un cane in chiesa (‘as welcome as a dog in church’, meaning ‘unwelcome’)

buono come il pane (‘as good as bread’, meaning ‘to have a heart of gold’)

preciso come un orologio svizzero (‘as precise as a Swiss clock’)

sordo come una campana (‘as deaf as a bell’, meaning ‘as deaf as a post’)

essere fuori come un poggiolo (‘to be out like a balcony’, meaning ‘to be off one’s head’)

chiaro come il sole (‘as clear as the sun’, meaning ‘as clear as daylight’)

cantare come un usignolo (‘to sing like a nightingale’, meaning ‘to sing very sweetly’)

cadere come una pera cotta (‘to fall like a cooked pear’, meaning 1. ‘to be taken in’, or 2. ‘to fall head over heels in love’)

bucato come un colapasta (‘full of holes like a colander’)

This list could go on for ever! Feel free to add any that I have missed, or perhaps you would like to share an amusing simile from your own culture/language.

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  1. Andrew:


    Mille grazie


  2. David T:

    Capisco che agli studenti d’italiano piacciono questi similitudini, ma si parla queste frase in Italia?


    • Serena:

      @David T Salve David T, certo, sono tutte similitudini comuni che si usano in conversazioni normali. Anche in Inglese si usano spesso similitudini come ‘deaf as a post’, vero?

      A presto, Serena

  3. Jeannet:

    Ciao Serena,

    Nella sequela ‘cadere una pera cotta’ l’amore
    come una colapasta.

    Saluti di Jeannet

  4. Ted Taormina:

    Ciao Serena, Last Feb. you posted a blog on the “acqua” family. At the end of the blog you mentioned that there is only one word in Italian that contains the letter group ‘qqa’. I have not been able to fine it. Would you tell your loyal and devoted readers what the word is? Thank you, Ted

    • Serena:

      @Ted Taormina Salve Ted, hai trovato l’unica parola che contiene ‘qqua’? La parola è: ‘soqquadro’, che significa ‘grave disordine’. È usata comunemente in espressioni del tipo: ‘i ladri hanno messo la casa a soqquadro’. ‘Mettere a soqquadro’ = ‘to turn upside down’. Viene da ‘sotto squadro’, cioè quando una stanza o un edificio non ha un buon angolo di supporto e quindi crolla.

      Saluti da Serena

  5. Ted Taormina:

    Oops, the letter group is actually ‘qqu’. My bad. Ted

  6. pietro:


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