Learn Some Matti (Crazy) Italian Idioms

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When you learn a language, one of the hardest things is learning how to use non-literal language. Aside from hand gestures, Italians use idiomatic expressions a lot, so Italian learners had better know at least a few common ones. Idiomatic expressions are phrases whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up, like to fly off the handle or to open a can of worms in English. The meaning of these phrases has nothing to do with handles or worms; you just have to know what they mean from experience.

To get you started, let’s go over some useful Italian idiomatic expressions, and also take a look at their literal meanings:


amore a prima vista = love at first sight (literally: love at first view)
un bel niente = This like saying nada, zip or zilch in English. It means nothing. (literally: a beautiful nothing)
fuori di testa = crazy (literally: out of one’s mind)
portare male [or bene] gli anni = to age poorly [or well]. (literally: to carry [your] years poorly [or well])
roba da matti = That’s crazy, or craziness. (literally: the stuff of craziness)
prendere in giro = to be made fun of, made a fool (literally: to take for a spin)<
valere la pena = to be worth the trouble, to be worthwhile (literally: to be worth the punishment) Non ne vale la pena = It’s not worthwhile.


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