Do you know what a “box” is in Italian? It might not be what you think it is! Over the years, the Italian language has borrowed many words from English, but they don’t always have the same meaning. The good news is, you already know the words, so they’re very easy to remember – you just have to learn the new meaning in Italian.
To help you remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials like word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…
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Remember and practice using what you learnt with the bonus materials for today’s episode.
Today’s Italian words
latte = milk
box = garage
zona “living” = literally “living zone”. Often used to talk about open plan living room/kitchen combos
toast = a toasted sandwich, usually with ham and cheese
slip = underwear/pants/briefs (men and women)
molto fashion = very fashionable
stage = work experience
beauty = washbag
baby parking/asilo = crèche or nursery
feeling = chemistry/rapport
una fiction = a tv series
Take the Quiz!
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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: English words used in Italian (that don’t exist in English!)
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Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.
Katie: Do you know what a “box” is in Italian? It might not be what you think it is! Over the years, the Italian language has borrowed many words from English, but they don’t always have the same meaning. The good news is, you already know the words, so they’re very easy to remember – you just have to learn the new meaning in Italian. Find out more in episode 36 of 5 minute Italian.
Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 minute Italian, hi everyone and welcome to 5 minute Italian. I’m Katie…
M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao.
K: All the way back in episode 2, we looked how English has borrowed some Italian words, and given them different meanings. Like latte or “latte”: if you ask for one in London, you’ll get a coffee, while if you ask for it in Milan, you’ll get a glass of milk. But the English are not the only ones to bastardise the words they borrow from other languages! The Italians don’t get off that easily either!
M: There are lots of words in Italian that Italians think are English, but that actually have different meanings.
K: For example?
M: Like box, which in Italian means “garage”, the place where you park your car by your house.
K: Another house-related one, which I heard a lot when we were looking for a house is la zona living which literally means “the living zone” and is often used to talk about open plan kitchens.
M: Then there’s toast, which is similar but not exactly the same as the English word for toast.
K: In Italian, the word toast, or “tost” with the Italian pronunciation, is a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese. Let’s move onto clothes now, what else have we got?
M: Then there’s slip,
K: Which means men’s underwear.
M: Actually, you can use it for both men and women.
K: Ah, OK. So I’ve often heard men use the word slip, which is funny because in English the word “slip” is a silky dress that women wear as underwear. So I still find this one quite funny because when I hear men use the word slip I always imagine them in a silky little dress.
M: Then we’ve got… fashion.
K: In Italian, fashion is sometimes used as an adjective, where we’d use the word fashionable. So sometimes you might hear Italians say molto fashion, where we would say “very fashionable”. It’s often used in a jokey or fun way – if your friend comes over with a new dress, you could say “look at you!” Molto fashion.
M: What about the word stage?
K: This is a really interesting one because I believe the word comes from French originally, stage, which means work experience or internship. Over time, I hear more and more Italians pronouncing it with the English pronunciation “stage”. Italians are often surprised to find that you can’t use the word “stage” or stage to talk about work experience in English. The standard pronunciation is stage (the French way) so it’s probably better to stick to that one if you’re speaking about an internship in Italian.
M: Then there’s beauty, which in Italian means “washbag”.
K: Those little bags where you keep your toothpaste and deodorant when you go on holiday.
M: We’ve also got baby parking.
K: Can you guess what that means? If you think about it very literally? It means “creche” or “daycare nursery”. The place where you park your babies of course!
M: But some Italians get annoyed by this phrase – the more standard way of saying this in Italian is asilo.
K: Then there’s the word “feeling” which is used to talk about relationships.
M: If you have un buon feeling with someone, it means that you’ve got good chemistry.
K: And it’s often used platonically, to say that you’ve got a good rapport.
M: Finally, we’ve got una fiction.
K: Literally translated as “a fiction” which means TV series.
That’s all we have time for today, thanks for listening. And if you’d like to get more mini Italian lessons delivered to your inbox, don’t forget to subscribe by following the link below. Grazie, and ciao for now, see you next time, or as we say in Italian, alla prossima!
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