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Italian Idioms and Expressions

Interesting and funny expressions in Italian

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Avere la Botte Piena e la Moglie Ubriaca : To have the wine cask full and the wife drunk – to have your cake and eat it, too.

Avere le mani d’oro : to be gifted in doing things

Attaccare il Cappello : To hang up one’s hat – used of a man who marries a wealthy woman, and (presumably) doesn’t have to work anymore.

A piede libero : out of jail

Alzare il gomito : to drink too much

Andarci coi piedi di piombo: to be cautious

Attaccalo al chiodo: Hang it to the nail ( forget about it )

Avere le mani in pasta: to have power to influence someone else’s decisions, to be powerful

Avere le mani legate : to have one’s hands tied

Avere un piede nella fossa: to be almost dead

Buona Notte al Secchio: Literally, good night to the bucket, it’s used to mean … and then we’re screwed. Why there should be a bucket involved I do not know.

Buono Come il Pane: As good as bread, very good hearted.

Caduto dalle Nuvole: Fallen from the clouds – Completely surprised, or pretending to be.

Siamo incasinati: We’re in a mess (or we’re very busy”).

Cadere in piedi: to land on one’s feet, to come out of a situation without damage

Cogliere qualcuno con le mani nel sacco: to catch someone red handed

Dare manforte: to come to the rescue

Dare una mano a qualcuno: to help someone

Darsela a gambe: to run away

Essere alla mano: to be easy going

Dalle Stelle alle Stalle: From riches to rugs

Dente Avvelenato – Ho il dente avvelenato: I am quite upset

Essere in gamba: to be fit (usually referred to someone of a certain age or that has just been ill)

Fare man bassa: to ransack

Fuori di Testa: Out of your mind

Gallina Vecchia fa Buon Brodo: old chicken makes good soup – age does not matter

Fuori dai piedi! : clear out!

Il bue dice cornuto all’asino: The ox calls horned the donkey

Il Sangue Al Cervello – the blood on the brain (to describe that anger increases)

In Bocca al Lupo: Into the wolf’s mouth: good luck ( it works like Break a leg in English ) The proper response is Crepi il lupo (May the wolf die)

Leccapiedi: brownnose

Legarsela al dito: to tie it to the finger – to remember a wrong bitterly

Man mano che: as/while

Metter le mani avanti (prima di cadere): to take action to prevent later damage

Mettere il dito sulla piaga: to touch where it hurts

Mettersi le mani nei capelli: to be desperate, helpless

Metterci la ciliegina sopra: To place the cherry on top – To finish up something

Metti il sale sulla coda – Put salt on his tail / Try to catch it !

Mi piace un casino: I like it a lot.

Mordersi le mani: to regret something.

Nella Botte Piccola C’è Vino Buono: Into a small cask there is good wine: A friendly compliment to a short person.

Non fare il passo piu’ lungo della gamba: Don’t make your step longer than your leg (or, don’t bite off more than you can chew)

Olio di gomito: oil from the elbow / Physical labor: Usare olio di gomito: Faticare

Ogni morto di papa: Every Death of a Pope: once in a blue moon.

Peli Sulla Lingua: non ho peli sulla lingua: I have no hair on my tongue – I speak frankly

Peli Sullo stomaco: (Avere peli sullo stomaco): don’t mind anything

Prendere qualcosa sottogamba: not to take it seriously

Piove sul Bagnato: It rains on what’s already wet : When it rains it pours !

Qualcosa bolle in pentola: Something is boiling in the pot (You are up to something)

Ragionare coi piedi: to be illogical

Sentirsi prudere le mani: to feel like hitting someone

Star con le mani in mano: to be idle, to be sitting on the fence

Su due piedi: on the spot

Ti scureggia il cervello (A fun Roman expression that means: Your brain is farting ! / you are saying something very stupid ! )

Tirarsi su le maniche: Pull up the sleeves : Getting ready to work

Venire alle mani: to fight

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