EURO 2020

Italian word of the day: ‘Tifoso’

We think you’ll be a fan of this Italian word.

Italian word of the day: ‘Tifoso’
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you’re following the Italian news at the moment, you’ll know this word is everywhere.

It might be easy to tell from the context of news reports that the word tifoso means “fan” or “supporter”. But do you know how to use the word correctly?

The verb tifare means to support, cheer for, or to root for, and it’s pretty much exclusively used when talking about sports..

– Sono qui a tifare per l’Italia

– I’m here to support Italy

So a supporter, then is un/a tifoso/a. The plural tifosi is used to describe a group of supporters (all-male or mixed gender – an all-female group would be tifose). 

These are probably going to be fans of football teams. But you may also hear people talking about tifosi in relation to other sports, too.

According to the Collins dictionary. in English the word tifoso is more often associated with motor racing fans. While in Italy, we’ve also heard it used in conversations about the Giro d’Italia.

Whatever the sport, the word implies that these particular fans will be particularly dedicated – perhaps truly fanatical.

You can also say fare il tifo, which also simply means ‘to support’ or ‘to cheer for’.

– Facciamo il tifo per voi in questa maratona

– We’ll cheer for you in this marathon

An online search may give you the impression that the word tifo, derived from the ancient Greek typhos, means typhus, or typhoid fever. This often leads people to believe that the word tifoso means “feverish”, perhaps suggesting that fans have come down with “football fever”.

But several Italian dictionaries note that it’s more likely to be connected to the other meaning of the ancient Greek typhos: smoke. As Treccani explains, enthusiastic spectators at the ancient Olympics used to celebrate the victories of their heroes by gathering around a bonfire.

You could also describe these supporters as appassionati, but you wouldn’t call them fans – even though the Italian language has adopted this English word.

‘Fan’ is more commonly used in Italian when talking about admirers of musicians or other famous people. So while you could be un fan di Madonna, you would be un tifoso di calcio (a football fan).

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

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Italian word of the day: ‘Baffi’

You'll be licking your chops over this word.

Italian word of the day: 'Baffi'

A word that can feel particularly satisfying to say in Italian is baffi: a moustache, or, on an animal, whiskers.

It takes the plural form in Italian, as it’s referring to the two halves of a moustache.

In fact English at one time did the same – moustache (which comes from the archaic Italian mostaccio) used to be used in the plural, but became standardised as singular in around the 19th century.

Ha dei baffi enormi.
He has an enormous moustache.

You don’t need impressive upper facial hair to talk about your baffi, though, as the word also features in certain everyday expressions.

Leccarsi i baffi is to lick your chops – if something is delicious or mouthwatering it’s da leccarsi i baffi.

Si stavano leccando i baffi.
They were licking their chops.

Ha preparato una cena da leccarsi i baffi.
He’s made a mouthwatering dinner.

Buonp Buonissimo Delizioso Da Leccarsi I Baffi Simpson Ned Flunders GIF - Yummy So Good Moustache GIFs
Source: Tenor

And ridere sotto i baffi (‘to laugh under your moustache’) is to laugh or snicker under your breath.

Ti ho visto ridere sotto i baffi.
I saw you snickering.

La smettete di ridere sotto i baffi!
Wipe those smirks off your faces!

The next time you want to express appreciation for a well-cooked meal or tell someone off for sniggering, you’ll know what just to say.

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

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