Written by:
Sep 17, 2020

11 Italian Idiomatic Expressions Using Suffixes

In Italian, the usage of some nouns modified with suffixes (wondering how to use Italian suffixes?) is so well-established that they have given rise to idioms and fixed expressions. Their meanings iares immediately understood by native speakers, yet they remain obscure to Italian language learners. 

The list of these Italian idiomatic expressions is endless, but here are some of the most common expressions for you along with their etymology. Many of these Italian idiomatic expressions are related to body parts and body language. 

Italian idioms and expressions

1. To go arm-in-arm

In Italian, to go together is: 

Andare a braccetto 

» to walk arm in arm; figuratively, to go together

(from braccio, "arm")

2. Penny pincher

In Italian, the expression for “penny-pinching” is literally “to have short arms”

Avere il braccino corto 

» penny-pinching

(from braccio, "arm")

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3. How lovely!

Che bel quadretto! [often ironic]

» What a lovely scene! Or literally, “what a lovely painting!”

(from quadro, "painting")

4. To sleep like a baby

In Italian, “to sleep like a baby” is literally “to sleep like a little angel”.

Dormire come un angioletto 

» to sleep like a baby

(from angelo, "angel")

5. To stick one’s tongue out

Fare la linguaccia 

» to stick out one’s tongue

(from lingua, "tongue")

6. To wink

Fare l’occhiolino

» to wink at someone

(from occhio, "eye")

7. To shrug

Fare spallucce 

» to shrug one’s shoulders

(from spalla, "shoulder")

8. To make a bad impression on someone

Fare una figuraccia 

» to make a bad impression

(from figura, "impression")

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9. Pinky swear!

In Italian, the expression equivalent to “pinky swear” is often used by children. It’s:

Giurin giurello!

» Pinky swear!

(from giurare, "to swear")

10. To get a dig in at someone

Lanciare una frecciatina 

» to get in a dig at someone, literally “to throw an arrow”

(from frecciata, "arrow shot")

11. Snug as a bug in bed

Stare al calduccio 

» to lie snug in bed, literally “to stay warm”

(from caldo, warmth)

That’s it! Do you have a favorite Italian idiomatic expression? Share it with us in the comments below!


About the Author: Viola Librenti is a translator who, as part of her work, translates for Drops.

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