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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Five Favourite Italian Words


A few days ago I was invited to participate in a multi-blog event on the Italian language which originated over at Italofile, my invite came from Bill and Carol an American couple who have come to Italy for a year to experience living in the  birthplace of their grandparents. They arrived in March and as they are also living in the Viterbo region, we hope to meet up in due course. Meanwhile I am enjoying reading about their adventures, many of which are so similar to our own experiences, over at Our Year In Italy


Favorite Italian Words: The Sequel  (Sorry about the different spellings, but this is an American link)

It has proved very difficult for me to choose five favourite words, cinque parole preferite as although I may not actually speak it very well, I do love the often melodic sounds of the Italian language. There are so many words that I find delightful so this is very much a random five that came to me when I sat down to write. I found that thinking about it too much just meant I was changing my mind every five minutes, which led me to keep saying Boh! Which therefore although being far from melodic had better be my first choice.

1. Boh!

image courtsey of gocce-di-memoria.blogspot.com

Strictly speaking I am not even sure that technically we can call this a word as it does not appear in any of my collection of Italian dictionaries, but one hears people using it all the time and I did manage to track it down online at Wikipedia.

Spoken with expression and gestures 'Boh' implies so much more than the also useful phrase 'Non lo so' 'I don't know' that it tends to replace. In fact I do find myself tending to use this word in English as well these days, which annoys my elder daughter intensely!

 2. Upupa

Image courtesy of my own photo collection LindyLouMac Photo Collection

This is the Italian word for one of my favourite birds, in English we know it as the Hoopoe.  I like the Italian word more as for a start I think it sounds more like the noise they make and secondly is a word I find easier to pronounce in Italian than English. We were lucky enough to have an Upupa nesting in the gardens of both properties we have lived in here in Italy.

3. Bella

Image courtesy of my own photo collection LindyLouMac Photo Collection

Beauty,Beautiful or even Sweetheart we all have our favourite ways of using this word. Personally I find a lot of beauty around me in Nature, like this Bella cactus flower I photographed recently at Mong Kok Flower Market in Hong Kong.

My younger daughter and I often start a telephone conversation with each other with 'Ciao Bella' It just sounds soft and somehow welcoming. We would I am sure never start a conversation with 'Hello Beautiful' though!  It somehow just does  not have the same ring to it. Beware though 'belladonna' does not mean as you might think 'beautiful woman' but 'deadly nightshade' 

 4.  Quindi

Quindi...Multa - so a fine!

Courtesy of mummarred @ Flickr.com

Is such a useful and great sounding little word that can be used in a variety of ways because it means not only therefore or so, its most common usages, but also for then, accordingly, from there, hence, thence, there at, there from, there upon, thus and wherefore.

I find it often pops up in my conversations when I need time to think (what is that word in Italian, help)replacing a mumble or um with quindi can often help one out of a tight spot. Sometimes by then the person I am speaking to has probably finished the sentence for me anyway!

I think the photo I have chosen for quindi is rather apt.


5. Zappa

Painting by Jean-François Millet

Zappa seemed an appropriate word for my fifth choice to day as it means Hoe an implement we are using in the garden rather a lot at the moment. With all the rain we have had recently the weeds seem to be growing in our Orto as we watch. Once again this is a word which I think sounds so much more appropriate in Italian, I like the sound and zapping the weeds is exactly what one is trying to do isn't it?  Hoeing the weeds in Italy I become a Zappatore!


So those are my five favourite words for today, I would be able to come up with a completely different list if asked to participate again I expect. Anyway I enjoyed playing along and will now link back to the originator Italofile and leave a comment.

Now I just need to tag the two bloggers I have decided to ask to play along, coincidentally they are both young Australian women who have happened to fall in love with an Italian. One of them I knew before the world of blogging encroached on my life and the other one I have as yet only met virtually via blogging, they both write interesting posts which I enjoy reading. I hope you will find a few minutes to go and take a look for yourselves if you have not yet come across these blogs.

Cathy at Chocolate Brick and Leanne at From Australia to Italy over to you.  Instructions on linking up etc with the originator of this post can be found at the original link.

Favorite Italian Words: The Sequel


  1. I like 'zappa'. Sounds like something from Batman!

  2. I just LOVEEEEEEEEE the Italian language...
    I wonder if Boh.. is the same as the Bah in French!

  3. my favorite is .. Allora

    i say is obnoxiously at LEAST 3 times a day ;)


  4. Boh! I'm pretty sure that was the first Italian word I really mastered. Fun post, and a great list!

  5. The upupa! How wonderful to be able to get a clear shot like that. I have only seen one in the environs of Siena, and it was running for cover into the brush. Great 5 words (mine tend to be expletives, I'm afraid!)

  6. These are great choices. I have adopted using 'Boh' as well, which impressed a local no end, as I had started to use their slang!

  7. Nice choices, dear Lindy:) I often speak italian with my italian friends here, and my favorites are tesoro, allora, bella, quindi and amore mio:)
    Sweet and melodic language, indeed.

  8. Boh is the best word and this post was great to read...and mine was fun to write! Grazie x

  9. Thank you, Lindy Lou, for the posts you did this week. I have enjoyed it all, the festival, the flowers, and the pictures around Viterbo.
    Also took a few moments to read some of the posts on a couple of the sites you mentioned; glad you did - just lots of fun.
    Now I must go and see what I can find to counteract wanderlust.

  10. I'm still thinking about my fave five Italian words!

    Got two so far.

    Nice selection!

    There are some fun words in Italian, this is true.



  11. Talli - So descriptive, I enjoy zapping but not weeding!
    Leesa - I imagine similar.
    Gina - Oh yes that is another word I could have used.
    Emily, Cathy and Leanne - Boh certainly seems popular, looking at these comments!
    Rowena - Even ordinary words can be made to sound like expletives in Italian can't they.
    Nihal - I like your choices also :)
    Mya - So pleased you enjoyed them. How about planning a trip to Italy to counteract that wanderlust?
    Alex - Do share your list with us when it is complete. Maybe you could do a post and link back to the original plus those of us that joined in?

  12. Tank you for publisher my photo! (Quindi... n°4)


  13. Mummarred - It was a pleasure, I was so pleased to find it on Flickr.

  14. Great post! You even found pictures to match the words. How long you must have worked on this article. V. impressive. : )

    I like how your word choices are simple and to the point. 6 Bella.


  15. Thanks Julie, the hard part was choosing which ones to use, as the Italian language is full of beautiful words.

  16. I tried to leave a comment before with my blog wordpress address but didn't work....I'll try again, however I'm an Australian living here in Italy for the past 10 years...yes I agree finding only 5 words is difficult, there are so many...Boh! I think is universal in every region here.

  17. Now, Lindy, when I Know the most important italian words, I can visit this beautiful country without any problems:)
    I'm very glad to visit your blog - it is nice and interesting.


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