Saturday, June 18, 2022

20 Frasi Fatte – 20 Catchphrases (Clichés) in Italian Starting with the Letter A



One way of classifying catchphrases on the spectrum of words that more or less mean saying, from less to more originality
One way of classifying catchphrases on the spectrum of words that more or less mean "saying",
from less to more originality.


Backstory


Once, when talking with an Italian friend, he criticized someone for always using frasi fatte, that is, lacking originality in her speech. Frasi fatte translates literally to "made phrases", or more exactly to  “platitudes”, “clichés” or very literally “set phrases” or "catch phrases". Instinctively, I knew what frase fatte meant as soon as it was uttered without looking it up.  I thought, wow, if I could speak Italian only with frasi fatte, I’d be quite happy!

The more we investigated frasi fatte, the more we realized that studying these phrases could be useful for English speakers trying to learn Italian. In this post, we include some frasi fatte starting with “A”. (You know us, a series is in the works so stay tuned for more letters of the alphabet.)

The list we’re drawing from is the Wikipedia page Glossario delle frasi fatte. Our contribution is to give our two cents on which phrases we've heard commonly.

Definitions


Before we get to the list, let’s briefly mention the number of ways to express a “saying”. What are the differences between terms like adage, platitude, cliché, and proverb in English? In our opinion, they are similar and often used interchangeably if not incorrectly. One way you can think of them is to rank them by originality, from more original (adage or proverb) to less original (cliché and catch phrase).

So, on a spectrum of originality, we are dealing in this post with the less serious, throw-away catch phrases and clichés called frasi fatte (plural) in Italian. They may not dispense a lot of wisdom, but these catch phrases are useful in their own right.

The List


The list contains examples from news headlines and in a few cases* text inside the articles referenced.   


A bocca asciutta – high and dry, empty-handed. Literally, dry mouth or left thirsty.
Example: Champions League: Italia a bocca asciutta, ko anche Trento.


A buon mercato – a good deal, a good price, heap.
Example: Tesla: titolo è a buon mercato, UBS vede rimbalzo del 30%.


Acqua in bocca – mum’s the word, not a word, keep it a secret. Literally, keep your mouth shut as if you were holding water in it.
Example*: Martedì non mancava un po’ di agitazione in casa Maroni. Ma acqua in bocca. Davide non può parlare per contratto ed è stato tutto una sorpresa anche per i genitori.


Agli sgoccioli – at the end, on one’s last legs, running out. Literally, down to drops (sgoccioli).
Example: Ucraina, munizioni agli sgoccioli in Donbass: “nuovi aiuti o guerra è persa”


Alzare il gomito – drink, pick up a drink. Literally, to lift (alzare) your elbow (gomito).
Example*: Ad “alzare il gomito” si comincia a 12 anni. Ad assumere droga e sostanze stupefacenti - a partire dai cannabinoidi - anche prima.


A naso / Andare a naso – do something by intuition, literally with your nose (naso).
Example*: Se non ve la sentite di andare “a naso”, su Internet troverete tanti manuali per cimentarvi nella preparazione di saponi e cosmetici da fare in casa.


Alle grande – greatly, to a large extend.
Example: “Gli uomini preferiscono le bionde”, un film che funziona alla grande a 70 anni di distanza.


(Essere) alla mano – be available, easy reached, approached. Literally, to be at hand (mano).
Example*: La generosità di George Clooney, il suo essere alla mano con noi comaschi la conosciamo bene.


All'americana – American style or way.
Example: Confronto all’americana tra i candidati a sindaco di Viterbo


Alla romana – Roman style or split the bill (go Dutch) for something like dinner.
Example: Dal conto alla romana al blind menu, chi deve pagare al ristorante?


Amici per la pelle – best friends, thick as thieves.
Example*: I due ragazzi, negli ultimi mesi, hanno condiviso lo stesso appartamento diventando amici per la pelle.


Andare a quel paese – go to hell, shove it.
Example: L'Aria che Tira, brutale rissa tra Ignazio La Russa ed Emanuele Fiano: “Vai a quel paese”, “Vergognati”.


Andare a zonzo – stroll around, go for a stroll.
Example: Condannato per evasione da 2 anni sorpreso a zonzo in centro storico, arrestato 23enne.


Andare a tilt – go haywire, breakdown. We hear this one a lot.
Example: Roma Pride e Vasco Rossi, Roma rischia di andare in tilt.


Aria fritta – something without substance, like an idea or project: hot air. Literally, fried air.
Example: Alla Presidente Tesei risponde Fabio Paparelli: bugie su bugie e aria fritta.


Avere culo – to be lucky. Literally, to have culo or ass.
Example: Il Milan domina a Roma, ma per tutti ruba e ha culo. Maresca: sempre tu, speravo di non vederti più. Ibra immortale.


Avere fegato – to be courageous; gutsy. Literally, to have fegato or liver.
Example: X Factor, Erio ha “Fegato” e vola in semifinale con l’inedito scritto da Giuliano dei Negramaro.


Avere l'acquolina in bocca – mouth-watering. Literally, have drool or craving (acquolina) in your mouth (bocca).
Example: Spaghetti al tonno con tutto il profumo del limone: la ricetta che ti farà venire l’acquolina in bocca.


Avere le braccine corte – Be cheap, cheapskate. Literally, to have short (corte) little arms (braccia + ine).
Example: I consumatori criticano “le braccine corte” del Governo il quale, con il taglio provvisorio del costo della benzina…


Avere le mani bucate – to be a spendthrift. Literally, your hands (mani) are perforated (bucate) so that money falls right through.
Example: Johnny Depp e le altre star con mani bucate e spese pazze.


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