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A Dictionary Of Beautiful, But Forgotten, Italian Words

These "vintage" Italian words have fallen out of fashion, but we think it's about time they made a comeback. Check out our favorites.

Illustration by Elena Lombardi

Italian is world-famous for sonorous and emotionally expressive words. But, believe it or not, there are many wonderful Italian words that never made it to modern times. We think that’s a shame, so we’ve collected our favorite "vintage" Italian words that deserve a comeback.

Apostrofare

verb: to harangue

Ammaliare

verb: to charm

Artefatto

adjective: unnatural

Bislacco

adjective: odd

Buonamano

noun: tip

Forbito

adjective: refined

Frusto

adjective: threadbare, worn-out

Gaglioffo

noun: a rapscallion

Granciporro

noun: an enormous mistake (literally: a big crab)

Lapalissiano

adjective: obvious
The word originates from the grave of Marshal Jacques de La Palice. The tombstone said "Ci-gît le Seigneur de La Palice: s’il n’était pas mort, il ferait encore envie." (Here lies the Seigneur de La Palice: If he weren’t dead, he would still be envied.) The words were misread in "… s’il n’était pas mort, il serait encore en vie" (If he weren’t dead, he would still be alive). Quite obvious, right?

Luculliano

adjective: plush
From Lucio Licinio Lucullo, an ancient Roman famous for his sumptuous feasts.

Meditabondo

adjective: pensive; contemplative

Obnubilato

adjective: clouded

Pleonastico

adjective: pleonastic
From the Greek πλεονασμός – pleonasmòs – which means "superfluous"

Ramanzina

noun: telling-off
Variant: romanzina (a long speech)

Sagittabondo

adjective: with eyes able to launch love arrows
From the Latin sagitta which means "arrow."

Sciamannato

adjective: shabby

Sgarzigliona

noun: a buxom woman

Smargiasso

noun: braggart

Solipsista

adjective: selfish
This comes from the philosophical idea of Solipsism.

Trasecolato

adjective: astonished
Literally: "out of the century." To be so surprised, you’re in another century.

Vattelappesca

interjection: who knows?!
The "and all" that Holden Caulfied says constantly in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye became "vattelappesca" in the most famous Italian translation.

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