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Italian expression of the day: ‘A mo’ di’

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/<a href=Nicolas Raymond" loading="lazy"/>
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This little phrase can serve as a useful means of self-expression.

Previously, we’ve discussed the use of “mo” in Italian to mean “now”, arising as an abbreviation of the Latin word for now, modo.

The “mo'” in a mo’ di looks similar, but it’s actually an abbreviation of the Italian word modo, meaning style or manner. “A mo’ di” therefore means “by way of” or “in the manner of”.

A mo’ di esempio, ti racconto una storia…
By way of example, I’ll tell you a story…

Ecco una copia della sua lettera, a mo’ di spiegazione.
Here’s copy of her letter, by way of explanation.

Dobbiamo farlo veloce e con precisione, a mo’ di chirurgo.
We do it must quickly and with precision, in the manner of a surgeon.

Notice there’s an apostrophe at the end of mo’ – that’s to show the word is an abbreviation of modo. You could theoretically say a modo di, but it sounds a bit stiff and formal.

The phrase also means “as” or “like”, when you’re using one thing as something else.

Usava il giornale a mo’ di ombrello per proteggersi dalla pioggia.
She was using the newspaper as an umbrella to shield herself from the rain.

Sto usando questo maglione a mo’ di cuscino per il viaggio in campeggio.
I’m using this jumper as a pillow for the camping trip.

Camping Everything Is Fine GIF by Kel Cripe

Finally, a mo’ di can mean “in the guise of”, when talking about dressing or styling a person or thing in a certain way.

Era vestito a mo’ di prete, così è riuscito a accedere al monastero.
He was dressed like a priest, and in this way he managed to gain access to the monastery.

Si vestiva a mo’ di strega per andare alla festa di Halloween.
She dressed up as a witch to go to the Halloween party.

And that’s what we’ve got for you, by way of explanation.

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


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