As you may already know, an idiomatic expression is a sentence where the idiom’s figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning.    

The question is: what are the Italian idiomatic expressions that you should really know? Here are 10 of them for you to learn!    

  1. In bocca al lupo” / “In culo alla balena

    These are two expressions to wish good luck, their literal translation is “in the wolf’s mouth” and “in the whale’s ass”.    

You don’t reply with thank you, but rather “crepi il lupo!” (may the the wolf croak!) for the first one; and for the second one “speriamo che non scoreggi!” ( I hope the whale won’t fart!). Such colourful expressions, don’t you think?    

Of course, if you want to be boring, you can simply wish someone “buona fortuna”.    

  1. Che me ne frega?”

    “Che me ne frega” is a bit rude way of saying “I couldn’t care less”.      

Imagine you broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You bump into one of your stupid friends, who asks you, “What happened to your ex?” You would reply, “Che me ne frega?” (I don’t know, I don’t care, and I hope I will never see him/her again).    

  1. Tirare il pacco

  When you “throw the package”, it means you didn’t show up to a date or a meeting with a friend. At that moment, they would very likely want to throw a real package at your face. For example:    

“How was the date with Marta yesterday?” “She didn’t show up. Mi ha tirato il pacco.” “che str***a!”  (Let’s discuss this kind of expression at another time)    

  1. "Ogni morte di papa"

    This phrase literally means, “Every death of a pope”. Yes we have the Vatican, yes we have the pope, and now you’ll never forget it  (as if it was possible to forget it). The expression means very rarely.    

“How often do you schedule an Italian lesson on italki?” “Ogni morte di papa”    

  1. "Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala"

    The literal meaning for this expression is, “You wanted the bike? Now you have got to ride it!”    

You use this expression when someone doesn’t want to take responsibility for his/her own actions. Please take note that you should say it with a lot of sarcasm, the type of sarcasm when you already told your friend several times that he/she was making a mistake, but he/she didn’t listen to you.      

  1. "Non vedo l’ora!"

    Literally, “I can’t see the hour”. Is is used to express that you are looking forward to something. For example:    

"Non vedo l’ora di mangiare una pizza!" I can’t wait to eat a pizza!    

  1. "Non avere peli sulla lingua"

    This expression is mostly used when you talk about people who will say anything off of the top of their heads, without worrying about what someone else might think. You can also use this expression to ask for someone’s brutally honest opinion. You want the person to speak his mind, but be aware, you might not like what he/she has to say.     “Tell me senza peli sulla lingua, what do you think about this article?” “It sucks!”    

  1. "Vai a quel paese!"

    This is the polite version of f*ck off in Italian. Obviously we also have the rude one, which is way more effective, but it’s better to discuss it in another place. Literally, it means “go to that town”.    

We have several different ways to tell someone to get lost. You can also use the expression “vai a farti benedire!” (go to get blessed!)      

  1. Fare le corna a qualcuno”

    If your girlfriend/boyfriend puts horns on you, it means he/she is cheating on you. It’s a very popular idiomatic expression (yes, despite the Vatican, we behave like everybody in the world).    

You may have heard of the saying that the Italians speak with their hands. The rocker hand sign, unless you are at a Metallica concert, can be used to offend someone or just for casually chit-chat.    

“Luca and Marta are so cute together.” “Yes, but Luca le fa le corna!” (Said using the rocker hand sign) “Marta è cornuta.” (The person who has hors on him/her is a cornuto/cornuta.)    

  1. Magari!”

    Now, this word has several meanings and it is used in different expressions, but let’s just focus on the most important one.    

It’s the word you were looking for to express hope. The kind of hope when you really want to have something or you really wish that something happens. In fact, the direct translation is I wish!    

“Would you like an ice-cream?” “Magari!”    


Bonus expression!

  1. "Non mi rompere i maroni!"

    "Don’t break my chestnuts!" You say this expression when someone is annoying you. Once again, this is only the polite version.    

In culo alla balena for your Italian learning!

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