Learn Italian Typical expressions

Idiomatic Phrases and the Human Body II

When you are learning a language, it is the idioms and the slang that make you feel as you can really speak it.

As all other languages, Italian is also rich of curious expressions used by its speakers to define something not always related in meaning to the words used to express it. Today we will take a closer look at Italian idioms based on human body lexicon. You will find that some of them closely resemble English expressions and recall the same imagery, whereas others are very much unique!


Italian idioms include often words related to the human body (Roxanna Salceda/flickr)

Human body and Italian slang

  • Tenere d’occhio qualcuno                      = To keep an eye on someone
  • Occhio non vede, cuore non duole         = What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve (over)
  • Un piacere a vedersi                              = A sight for sore eyes
  • A quattr’occhi                                          = Eyeball to eyeball
  • Guardare qualcuno in faccia                   = To look someone in the face
  • Mettere il broncio                                     = To pull a long face
  • Salvarsi la faccia                                      = To save one’s face
  • Fare le boccacce a qualcuno                   = To make faces at someone
  • Fare buon viso a cattivo gioco                 = To put a good face on something
  • Rinfacciare qualcosa a qualcuno              = To throw something in someone’s face
  • Avere le mani in pasta                              = To have a finger in every pie
  • Incrociare le dita, fare scongiuri                = To keep one’s fingers crossed
  • Avere le mani di burro                               = To have butter fingers
  • Sapere qualcosa a menadito                     = To have something at one’s finger tips
  • Prendere qualcuno in contropiede, cogliere qualcuno in fallo  = To catch someone on the wrong foot
  • Cadere in piedi, cavarsela                          = To fall on one’s feet
  • Avere un piede nella fossa                         = To have one foot in the grave
  • Avere le mani ed i piedi legati                    = to have one’s hands and feet tied up
  • Essere in punta di piedi                              = on tiptoe
  • Fare piedino                                               = play footsie( with someone)t
  • Cercare il pelo nell’uovo                          = To split hairs
  • Giù le mani!                                                = Hands off
  • Avere la testa sulle spalle                 = To have a head on one’s shoulders
  • Non perdere la testa                        = To keep one’s head
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