10 Italian Expressions You Never Learned in the Classroom


Warning: Potentially offensive and lewd phrases are included below.

There are some expressions that you’ll likely never learn in a classroom, so if you’ve been taking Italian in the classroom, get ready to learn some phrases that are a just a tad more relaxed.

And awesome.

Never Learned Cover 1

1.) Sono brillo / brilla. – I’m tipsy.

SO-no BREE-low / BREE-lah

This expression was taught to me when I tried desperately to explain to an Italian ex-boyfriend that I was not quite drunk, but also definitely not sober.

He was stoked to learn the word tipsy too, and he said it at least fourteen times that night even though he was far more inebriated than I was.

It can be understood as high too, but I heard this less often.

2.) Ho preso una scimmia. – I’m wasted.

oh PREH-zo OOH-nah SHE-me-ah

This expression was taught to me when I was sober, which was a nice change of pace. It literally means ‘I have a monkey’, and is used to express total drunkedness. If you’re making fun of a friend, you can say ‘Hai preso una scimmia’.

3.) Senti chi parla! – Look who’s talking!

SEHN-tee kee PAR-lah

This is used when you’re being sarcastic with someone.

For example, you have a friend who is dating a really sucky guy, but she’s telling you that you need to break up with your sucky guy because it’s better for your life.

In this situation, you would say ‘Senti chi parla!’

4.) Lui è come un polpo. – He is like an octopus.

LOO-ee eh KO-meh oon POLE-po

This phrase derives from a conversation with the Italian ex-boyfriend when he was describing his ex-girlfriend’s endearing stalker-like qualities.

Interesting to note if you happen to attract a stage 5 clinger while in beautiful Italia.

Handheld octopus

[photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service]

5.) Sto godendo. – I’m in ecstasy.

sto go-DEN-doh

‘Godendo’ comes from the ‘godere’, which means ‘to enjoy’. It’s not always used in a sexual context, but it’s definitely that way in this expression.

You would use this during sex to express how completely you are enjoying yourself.

6.) Vaffanculo! – Fuck you. Fuck off.


Here’s an #Italianfail for you. I was with my friends in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, eating waffles and being all touristy, when a guy just walked up and acted blatantly rude and vulgar.

So, without thinking about the fact that other Italian speaking people might be in Amsterdam, I yelled ‘vaffanculo’ at him as he walked away.

Really, the shocked look on his face as he heard this coming from an Asian girl eating a waffle in Amsterdam was worth it, but he happened to be Italian and reply with something along the lines of ‘merda’ whatever.

Anywho, you can use this when some annoying guy just won’t leave you alone, but it is rather vulgar and offensive. It can also be used in the context of just saying ‘Fuck’, like you’re upset at a situation.

7.) Scusi, per favore, posso avere ancora un po’ di vino? – Excuse me, can I please have some more wine?

SKOO-zee, pear fah-VOH-reh, POHS-so ah-VARE-eh ahn-CORE-ah oon po dee VEE-no

So, they might teach you this in school, but I thought I’d throw it in for good measure. Being able to ask for more wine is a must.

8.) Sei una testa di cazzo. – You are a dickhead.

SEH-ee OOH-nah TEHST-ah dee KAH-tzo

This is an expression that you would use if you were, say, really mad at your Italian lover. I might’ve overused this in my time in Italy, along with using words like ‘inaffidabile’ or ‘unreliable’.

9.) Una figura di merda.

OOH-nah fee-GUR-ah dee MARE-dah

This phrase is used to express an event where you do something embarrassing or shameful and everyone is there to see it.

10.) Lei è una troia. – She’s a whore.

leh eh OOH-nah TROY-ah

Now, I am by no means a supporter of degrading women by using any negative words, but this one was too great for me to forget. It means prostitute or slut also, and it’s derived from Helen of Troy.

Really. Historical insults, ftw.

I hope you enjoyed the lewdness. :]

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