Italian word of the day: ‘Adocchiare’

We've got our eyes on this word.

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

“You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you…”

We could be referring to an alluring object of our affection, that bag we’ve been lusting after, or a particularly delicious cake.

In all cases, we’re eyeing up something we covet, or in Italian, the verb to replace the English phrasal verb is adocchiare (pronunciation here).

Non fa altro che adocchiare le ragazze.
He’s too busy eyeing up the girls.

Ma niente cioccolatini senza di me, ti ho visto adocchiare quelli che ho comprato ieri.
But no chocolates without me. I saw you eyeing up the ones I bought yesterday.

In these examples, we could translate the verb as ‘eye up’ or ‘to have one’s eyes on’.

Like in English, you can see the derivation – adocchiare contains the part of the word for eye, occhio.

But it’s not always used to express desire for something or someone. It can also simply mean to spot, like you’ve noticed something or can see something if you pay attention.

E se guardate attentamente, potrete adocchiare le rovine dell’antico castello che ha dato il nome alla nostro comune.
And, if you look closely, you can spot the remains of the old castle, after which our town is named.

Se stiamo zitti, possiamo adocchiare uno scoiattolo o addirittura un piccolo capriolo.
If we’re quiet, we can spot a squirrel or even a roe deer.

Se aguzzi la vista, potresti anche adocchiare personaggi ricchi e famosi tra la folla.
If you pay attention, you could also spot rich and famous people in the crowds.

You could also translate it as ‘catch sight of something or someone’.

I miei amici, quando adocchiarono mia sorella, non smisero di battibeccare su chi la dovesse invitare ad un’uscita.
When they caught sight of my sister, my friends did not stop bickering about who should invite her out.

So now you know what word to drop in the next time you’re eyeing up your cute neighbour or a scrummy dessert.

Do you have an 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: ‘Mollare’

Don't ditch this verb before you've mastered its many uses.

Italian word of the day: 'Mollare'

If you spend much time in Italy, you’ll get used to hearing the verb mollare used in a variety of contexts – but what does it mean?

For starters, it can be used as a translation for ‘to release’ or ‘to let go’, in a physical sense:

Mi molli la mano, per favore?
Would you please let go of my hand?

Mollalo subito, Rocco!
Drop that right now, Rocco!

Or to ‘ditch’ something (or someone):

Non possono risalire a noi per la rapina, abbiamo mollato l’auto il giorno stesso.
They can’t trace the heist back to us, we ditched the car the same day.

Scusa se ti abbiamo mollato alla festa di Laura.
Sorry we ditched you at Laura’s party.

It’s also frequently used to refer to dumping a person you have some kind of relationship with – usually with reference to romantic relationships, though not always:

Hai tempo per parlare? Francesco mi ha mollata.
Do you have time to talk? Francesco dumped me.

Lo dovrebbe aver mollato ormai.
She should have dumped him by now.

La mia terapista mi ha mollato quando si è trasferita in Spagna.
My therapist dropped me when she moved to Spain.

It can mean to ‘drop out’ or ‘quit’:

Ha mollato l’università dopo tre settimane.
He dropped out of university after three weeks.

Non pensare nemmeno di mollare la scuola.
Don’t even think of dropping out of school.

Or to talk about ‘dropping everything’:

Molla tutto quando la chiami.
She drops everything when you call.

Ragazzi, mollate tutto e stammi e sentire.
Guys, stop what you’re doing and listen up.

Finally, mollare can mean to give in, or back down (in this context, you’ll usually hear it used as an encouragement to non mollare, or not give up).

Non mollo, è esattamente quello che cercano.
I’m not backing down, that’s exactly what they’re after.

Ora più che mai, non bisogna mollare!
Now more than ever, you mustn’t give up!

brigitte nielsen GIF by Isola dei Famosi

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