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: ‘Così’

This Italian word is so useful to know.

Italian word of the day: 'Così'

The Italian language features plenty of very versatile little words, like allora, ecco, quindi, insomma, cioè, and così, which have a multitude of uses and come in handy in all sorts of situations.

Helpfully, as Italian native speakers will demonstrate during almost any phone call, these words can also be used as fillers at times when you’re not sure what to say – but are still talking anyhow:

Ecco, così è, così siamo messi, così è andata

There you go, that’s the way it is, that’s where we are, that’s how it went

Today’s word might just be the most versatile of them all.

Così is a word that you’ll hear used all the time in spoken Italian, in all sorts of different ways. Here are a couple that you’ve probably heard or used yourself:

È così – That’s how it is (literally ‘it is so’)

Basta cosi? – Is that all?

Per così dire – so to speak/as it were

Non si fa così – don’t do that/that’s not cool (literally ‘it’s not done like that’)

As you can probably tell, così in its most common usages translates roughly into English as so, thus, such, that, or like this.

You pronounce it ‘koh-zee’ – click here to hear some examples.

Much like the English ‘that’, così can also be used to add emphasis, as in così tanto (‘so much’) or così poco (so little), or to modify an adjective:

Non è così comune

It’s not that common

It’s used to mean ‘so’ as in ‘therefore’:

C’era sciopero dei treni, così non siamo potuti partire.

There was a train strike, so we couldn’t leave.

You could even use it like this to stress how strongly you feel:

Siamo così così dispiaciuti per ieri sera.

We’re so, so sorry for last night

But normally, when you see it doubled up, it has a different meaning.

Così così is the equivalent of ‘so-so’ in English, which means ‘not good, not bad’ – but is the sort of phrase you might euphemistically use to indicate that you’re not feeling well, or didn’t like something very much.

Com’era il film? 

Così così… ho visto di meglio.

How was the film? 

So-so, I’ve seen better.

(Here, you could also use the word insomma instead of così così)

Le case sono mantenuti solo così così.

The houses aren’t very well maintained.

These are just a few of the many possible uses of così, but we’re sure you can see why this is a word every Italian learner should be familiar with. 

È così utile sapere! (It’s so useful to know)

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