In Italian, where is Boh from

11 funny Italian sayings & proverbs to smile about

As a writer, I love words and the sheer joy of speaking. My thoughts usually revolve around the fascinating melody of my mother tongue, Italian. I have friends from all over the world. Although I mainly speak English to them (accompanied, of course, with gestures for which we Italians are known), I still have the habit of unpacking Italian sayings in certain situations. So don't be surprised if most of my conversations include “you know what? In Italian we say [insert one or more Italian idioms here] “falls. I just can't help it! È più forte di me! ("It is stronger than I am!")

1. Italian idiom: Stare con le mani in mano

Literally: To be with your hands in your hand / hold your hands in your own hand

Importance: Twiddling your thumbs, doing nothing

If you know even a bit of Italian body language, you will immediately understand why this phrase has a negative connotation for us. Do you realize how frustrating it is for us Italians to stand still and not gesticulate wildly to express ourselves?

Example: This Italian idiom could be directed to someone who does nothing while everyone else is working:

  • Non stare lì con le mani in mano, aiutami con questa valigia!
  • "Don't stand with your hands in your hand, help me with my luggage!"

You can also use Italian idioms to underline the bad manners of someone who was supposed to bring something (a gift or food, for example) and didn't do it, so instead of a nice gesture, had their own hands in their hands:

  • Che maleducato! È arrivato alla festa di compleanno con le mani in mano.
  • "How rude! He came to the birthday party and held his own hands! "

2. Italian idiom: Non ci piove

Literally: It's not raining on it!

Importance: "No doubt!"

The weather is one of our favorite topics for Italian idioms because our moods get worse when the sun isn't shining. Take these two things, combine them, and you will understand why we have so many sayings about the weather.

A discussion with non ci piove ending means you have confidence in your final argument - what you say is so persuasive that it is no longer up for discussion.


  • L’Italia è il paese più bello del mondo, su questo non ci piove!
  • "Italy is the most beautiful country in the world, it doesn't rain on it!"

3. Italian proverb: Piove sul bagnato

Literally: "It's raining on wet ground."

Importance: "Misfortunes never come singly."

Speaking of rain and weather, here is another Italian weather-related proverb that is often used to describe a particular situation - one that is usually paradoxical and unfair: Piove sul bagnato - "It's raining on wet ground".

Example: This phrase is mostly used in negative situations, but can also be interpreted positively, for example when someone who is already very rich wins the lottery.

  • Ho perso il lavoro, la mia fidanzata mi ha mollato, adesso mi hanno anche rubato il portafogli… piove sul bagnato!
  • "I lost my job, my girlfriend left me and now they have stolen my wallet too ... it's raining on the wet floor!"

4. Italian idiom:Acqua in bocca!

Literally: "(Let the) water in your mouth!"

Importance: "Keep it to yourself!"

Let's stay a little longer in this humid microclimate and talk about more Italian idioms that have to do with water. We like to gossip in Italy. But we are also very careful not to reveal the source. Nobody wants to be accused of talking about other people's business. Every time we say something that we shouldn't continue babbling, we make sure that our blasphemy partner doesn't blow our cover: "Acqua in bocca!" ("Make your mouth water!") Is what we usually admonish him to do.


  • È un segreto, acqua in bocca!
  • "It's a secret, mouth watering!"

5. No be capace di tenerti un cece in bocca!

Literally: "You can't keep a chickpea in your mouth!"

Importance: "You can't shut up!"

This is what happens when someone is unable ... to keep their mouth watering. Was it really that hard to swallow that tiny pea? Why did you have to spit it out ?!


  • Non dirgli niente, non si sa tenere un cece in bocca!
  • "Don't tell him, he can't keep a chickpea in his mouth!"

6. Pietro torna indietro

Translation: "His name is Pietro and he has to come back!"

Importance: "Give that back!"

I am very possessive of my books and if you want to borrow one from me it will probably be your worst nightmare. Don't be surprised if, before I entrust you with my paper treasures, I say to you: “You know his name, don't you? Pietro! Very good. ”This trick works in Italian because Pietro and indietro rhyme. As much as I would like to translate this rhyme into German, I haven't done it yet. So if you have an idea, write to me.


  • Giulia: Mi presti questo libro? -Stefano: Sì, ma c’è scritto Pietro sulla copertina!
  • Giulia: “Can you lend me this book?” - Stefano: “Yes, but it is there Pietro on the cover! "

7. Italian proverb: Non avere peli sulla lingua

Literally: "Have no hair on your tongue"

Importance: "Make no secret of something"

This saying is not used in connection with oral hygiene; no, it has nothing to do with that. People with hair on their tongues aren't afraid to be honest, even if they risk offending someone. There is, so to speak, no control barrier between the brain and the tongue.


  • Non rimanerci male, non è cattivo ... semplicemente non ha peli sulla lingua.
  • "Don't blame him, he's not a bad person ... he just doesn't have any hair on his tongue."

8. Chiodo scaccia chiodo.

Literally: "One nail drives out another nail."

Importance: "You will get over it."

When your relationship ends badly and you seek advice from an Italian Mom or Nonna are looking for (and believe me, Italian Moms and Nonnas are always the wisest), you will surely get this advice: "Chiodo scaccia chiodo!“- or in other words: you will forget this (rusty, disgusting) nail because a new, shiny nail will soon take its place. This encouragement phrase is usually used for painful love relationships, but can also be used in other situations in which someone has to come to terms with something (with an unloved job, a disappointment, an argument).


  • Be ancora innamorato di lei? Dai, troverai presto qualcun altro… chiodo scaccia chiodo!
  • “Do you still love her? Don't worry, you'll soon find someone else ... one nail will drive the other out. "

9. Avere un diavolo per capello

Literally: "Having a devil for every hair"

Importance: "To be fox devil"

Is there anything that would describe an angry person better? This person is not just angry as a devil, nor is he just angry one Sat devil on your shoulder. No, nothing like that. To explain this anger, one has to horde nasty demons whispering bad advice and nasty things in your ear. How many? As much as you have hair on your head! Picture it and then claim again that you can find a better expression ...


  • Lasciami stare… ho un diavolo per capello
  • "Leave me alone ... I have a devil for every hair!"

10. Da che pulpito viene la predica!

Literally: "Look at the pulpit from which this sermon comes!"

Importance: "Better to touch your own nose."

As you probably know, religion is a pretty big deal in Italy. My grandma still tells me stories about how she was afraid of Sunday sermons. Why? Because it was then customary for priests to expose the sins of their congregation from the pulpit during the sermon. They didn't use first and last names - the confessional secret was "safe" - but they knew how to make it clear who they were talking about. As a result, there is a lot of emotional baggage behind this idiom and one of the worst things you can say to describe a hypocritical person. Does this rich, stingy man say poverty is a big problem in the world but does nothing to alleviate the grief of the poor? Look at which pulpit this sermon comes from!


  • Pensi che dovrei mangiare meglio? Senti da che pulpito viene la predica!
  • “You think I should eat healthier? Look at the pulpit from which this sermon comes! "

11. È il mio cavallo di battaglia

Literally: "It's my warhorse."

Importance: "That is my strength."

If you hear Italians talking about horses and slaughter, don't be afraid. We're not in a sequence of game of Thrones . Always with Tranquillity. We're just showing off our abilities a little. After all, isn't your warhorse the most suitable, the strongest, and the one to whom you entrust your life? Believe me, it's a good thing to see other people's warhorses. This term is used to emphasize people's strengths. If horses aren't your thing, so can you la punta di diamante (Say "the sharp end of the diamond").


  • Il falsetto è il suo cavallo di battaglia!
  • "The falsetto is his warhorse."