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Italian word of the day: ‘Pantofolaio’

This word describes a certain type of comfortable lifestyle.

Italian word of the day: 'Pantofolaio'
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A pantofolaio  – roughly pronounced ‘pahn-toh-foh-lay-oh’, click here to hear it – is defined as a “person who spends life in their slippers”.

In English, you might lovingly refer to this person a “homebody”, or more rudely as a “couch potato”.

The Italian word pantofolaio is derived from the word for slippers (pantofole), and it describes a person who prefers a quiet life – in the comfort of their own home.

The word has been around for decades, and some say it comes from the French pantouflard, which means exactly the same thing.

It’s a way of living that some of us adopt as the weather gets colder – and one that we might be all too familiar with from 2020.

I lockdown sono stati difficili, anche per i pantofolai a cui non piace uscire

The lockdowns were hard, even for the homebodies who don’t like going out

It also suggests that a person might be particular about their habits, and somewhat set in their ways.

While some people might use it as a mild insult, we probably all know one person who’s happiest at home with a good book – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Non so se andranno d’accordo. Lei è una pantofolaia e non le piace andare alle feste, mentre lui è sempre in giro.

I don’t know if they will get along. She is a homebody and doesn’t like going to parties, whereas he is always out and about.

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Italian expression of the day: ‘Farla franca’

You won't get away with neglecting to learn this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Farla franca'

If you like Italian detective or murder mystery novels, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter the phrase farla franca: to get away with something.

Con Poirot alle calcagna, l’assassino non riuscirà mai a farla franca.
With Poirot on the scent, the killer will never get away with it.

Pensavi davvero di potermi derubare e farla franca?
You really thought you could steal from me and get away with it?

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According to the Treccani dictionary, the expression comes from the bureaucratic use of the adjective franco to mean ‘free’, describing either people that are exempt from carrying out their duties (like off-duty naval officers) or goods that are exempt from tariffs and duties.

One of the first recorded uses of farla franca as a phrase comes from the early 14th century.

The Florentine historian Giovanni Villani wrote that in June 1322, the city of Florence celebrated the Feast of San Giovanni with a big fair, ‘la quale feciono franca‘ for non-citizens – in other words, foreign merchants who came didn’t have to pay the usual taxes.

By the mid-1800s, the expression to mean escaping from some illicit act or risky endeavour without having to pay a penalty. In English (if you were being old-fashioned) you might talk in the same way about someone ‘getting off scot free’.

The la in farla franca is the part of the phrase that stands in for the ‘it’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to fare but can go somewhere else, as long as it’s there.

Non possiamo permettere che la faccia franca.
We can’t let him get away with this.

Pensa di poterla fare franca.
She thinks she can get away with it.

With this phrase now in your repertoire, there’s no telling what you’ll get away with.

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