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Italian word of the day: ‘Intanto’

While you’re here, take a moment to learn this handy word.

Italian word of the day intanto
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Intanto is a word you’ll hear crop up often in Italian conversations.

Its most common English translations are ‘meanwhile’, ‘in the meantime’, ‘for the time being’, or ‘until then’.

Luisa arriverà tra cinque minuti. Intanto entra e mettiti a tuo agio.
Luisa will be here in five minutes. In the meantime, come in and make yourself comfortable.

L’anno prossimo mi laureerò come medico, ma intanto lavoro come cameriera.
Next year I’ll graduate as a doctor, but for the time being I’m working as a waitress.

Voi preparatevi a uscire, io intanto finisco di lavare i piatti.
You get ready to go out, meanwhile I’ll finish washing up.

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The dictionary points out that when used as a translation for ‘meanwhile’, intanto can have a somewhat adversarial quality, highlighting the contrast between two situations.

Io sto preparando una cena per dieci persone e intanto te ne stai lì a guardare la TV.
I’m preparing a meal for ten people, meanwhile you sit there watching TV.

Tu paghi l’affitto e tutti i conti, lui intanto non paga niente e non riesce a tenersi un lavoro per più di due mesi.
You pay the rent and all the bills, meanwhile he doesn’t pay for anything and can’t hold down a job for more than two months.

Relatedly (talking about highlighting contrasts), intanto is sometimes used to mean ‘however’:

È divieto di fumare nella casa, intanto si può fumare sul balcone.
Smoking in the house is forbidden, however you can smoke on the balcony.

La popolazione, intanto, si dimostrava contraria allo svolgersi degli eventi e pretendeva un’elezione.
The townspeople, however, showed their opposition to the turn of events and demanded an election.

Finally, intanto can mean ‘for starters’, ‘first of all’, or ‘for one thing’.

Allora, intanto, io sono cittadina americana.
First of all, I’m an American citizen.

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Intanto, a te quella mercedes non serve.
For starters, you don’t need that Mercedes.

Intanto sei sempre in ritardo.
For one thing, you’re always late.

Try it out in a conversation this week – and in the mean time, have a browse of our word of the day archive to see what else you can learn.

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

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For members


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.

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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.

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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.