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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘Senz’altro’

This is certainly a handy phrase to know.

Italian expression of the day senz'altro
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Pop quiz: if you ask your waiter for a glass of water and he replies “Senz’altro!”, what can you expect?

A: Sweet nothing.
B: Your water.
C: An empty glass.

The correct answer, at least in any establishment worth its salt, is B. While senz’altro might look like ‘without anything else’, it’s actually an expression of assent or confirmation – like ‘certainly’ or ‘by all means’.

– Posso prendere in prestito questo libro?
– Sì, senz’altro!

– May I borrow this book?
– Sure, by all means!

The implied meaning is somewhat similar to another phrase that sometimes trips up Italian learners: ci mancherebbe altro (”something would be lacking otherwise’), which you can use to suggest that something goes without saying.

Like that expression, senz’altro implies that a certain conclusion is inevitable: it’s like saying ‘of course’ or ‘no doubt’. 

Hanno senz’altro dimenticato l’appuntamento.
No doubt they forgot the appointment.

More broadly, it emphasizes your conviction in what you’re stating, the way English speakers might say ‘definitely’ or ‘for sure’.

Riconosco lei senz’altro.
I definitely recognize her.

lo farò senz’altro domani.
I’ll do it tomorrow for sure.

And when used in response to a question, as we’ve seen, senz’altro is like giving a very strong ‘yes’.

– Vieni con noi stasera?
– Sì, senz’altro! 

– Are you coming with us tonight?
– Absolutely!

– Mi scriverai?
– Senz’altro!

– Will you write to me?
– Of course!

Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Delusione’

We hope this word doesn't disappoint.

Italian word of the day: 'Delusione'

Experiencing a delusione (deh-loo-zee-OH-neh) in Italian may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t mean you need escorting to the psychiatrist’s chair.

That’s because while delusione may look and sound like its English cousin ‘delusion’, the word actually means something quite different: disappointment.

Disappointment Disappointed GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Food Review GIFs

The two nouns actually have the same root in the Latin dēlūsiō, meaning a deceiving or deluding, and delūdō, meaning to deceive, dupe, or mock.

But while the English ‘delusion’ has hewn close to the original Latin meaning over the centuries, delusione at some point branched off to its current, quite different, definition.

There’s not much in the way of information about exactly when and how that happened, but it’s clearly a short associative hop from feeling ‘deceived’ or ‘duped’ by things turning out differently to what you’d expected to feeling ‘disappointed’.

Che delusione.
How disappointing.

La festa era, purtroppo, una grande delusione.
The party unfortunately was a big disappointment.

Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad Che Delusione No Che Vergogna GIF - Disappointment Disappointed Oh No GIFs

The adjective for ‘disappointed’ is deluso for a single masculine subject, changing to delusa/delusi/deluse if the subject being described is feminine singular/masculine plural/feminine plural.

Era delusa da come era venuta la torta.
She was disappointed with how the cake turned out.

Devo dire che siamo davvero delusi dal fatto che siamo stati trattati in questo modo.
I have to say that we’re very disappointed to have been treated this way.

A word you’ll often see used in combination with deluso/a/i/e is rimanere (ree-man-EH-reh): rimanere deluso.

You might correctly recognise rimanere as meaning ‘to remain’, and wonder why we’d use that word here – but rimanere also has an alternative meaning along the lines of ‘to become’, ‘to get’, or simply ‘to be’.

For example, you can rimanere incinta (get pregnant), or rimanere ferito (get hurt or wounded, for example in a car accident).

It’s also very often used with emotions, usually those experienced in the moment rather than long-term ones: you can rimanere sorpreso (be surprised), rimanere triste (be sad), rimanere scioccato (be shocked)… and rimanere deluso (be disappointed).

Sono rimasto molto deluso quando mi ha detto di aver abbandonato la scuola.
I was very disappointed when she told me she had dropped out of school.

Siamo rimasti delusi dalle condizioni della stanza d’albergo al nostro arrivo.
We were disappointed by the condition of the hotel room when we arrived.

With that, we wish you a weekend free of delusioni (disappointments)!

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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