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10 Idiomatic Italian Expressions That Will Make You Sound Like a True Italian

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Want to Sound Like a True Italian? You Must Learn These 10 Idiomatic Italian Expressions

Idiomatic expressions are phrases or sayings that often have a metaphorical meaning that differs from the words’ literal meaning. Italians use idiomatic expressions as an integral part of the language in everyday conversation.

This article will explore some of the most common Italian idiomatic expressions and how they can be used in conversation.

1Fare buon viso a cattivo gioco

Translation and Meaning: Making a good face to a lousy game means “having a positive attitude even in an unfavorable situation.”


  • Quando sono la’ faccio buon viso a cattivo gioco.
  • When I’m there, I have a positive attitude even if I don’t like the situation.

2Essere alla frutta

Translation and Meaning: To be at the fruit, and the meaning is “to be at the end of something and be out of energy.”


  • Alla fine dell’allenamento ero alla frutta.
  • At the end of the workout I was beat.

3Essere al verde

Translation and Meaning: To be at the green, and the meaning is “to be without money, to be penniless”.


  • Come mai sei sempre al verde?
  • How come you’re always without money?

4Essere un pezzo di pane

Translation and Meaning: Being a piece of bread means “being a good person.”


  • Luigi e’ un pezzo di pane.
  • Luigi is a good person.

5Facile come bere un bicchier d’acqua

Translation and Meaning: As easy as drinking a glass of water. This is a metaphor that shows how a specific action is easy or it is deemed to be easy. This is the equivalent of the English “easy as a piece of cake”.


  • L’esame e’ stato facile come bere un bicchier d’acqua.
  • The exam was a piece of cake.

6Fare le scarpe

Translation and Meaning: Making shoes means “to take someone else’s place.”


  • Gli ha fatto le scarpe e ha preso il suo posto.
  • He won and took over his position.

7Finché c’è vita c’è speranza

Translation and Meaning: As long as there is life there is hope. Italians use this idiomatic expression to manifest hope.


  • Non ti arrendere, finche’ c’e’ vita c’e’ speranza.
  • Don’t give up, there’s still hope.

8Fischiare le orecchie

Translation and Meaning: Whistling the ears. This expression is used when one feels that someone speaks poorly of them.


  • Ieri mi sono fischiate le orecchie. Stavate parlando di me?
  • Yesterday my ears were whistling. Were you talking about me?

9Gettare la spugna

Translation and Meaning: Throwing the sponge. This expression is the equivalent of the English “throwing the towel”. The meaning is “to surrender.”


  • Alla fine ha gettato la spugna.
  • In the end, he threw the towel.

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