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IT: Idiomatic Exprns

Idiomatic Expressions: From Mastering Italian Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach

ItalianEnglish
acqua in bocca Ora ti racconto un segreto, ma acqua in bocca! silence, not a word about it Now, I'll tell you a secret, but not a word about it.
alzare il gomito Non ti pare che stai alzando il gomito un po' troppo? to drink hard Don't you think you're drinking a little too hard?
ammazzare il tempo Cosa si potrebbe fare per ammazzare il tempo? to kill time What could we do to kill time?
avere l'acqua fino alla gola Credo che le cose gli vadano male e che abbia l'acqua fino alla gola. to be in great difficulties I think that things are going badly for him and that he's in great difficulties.
bisogna Domandiamo se bisogna prenotare i posti? one must; it is necessary Let's ask whether it's necessary to reserve the seats.
chiaro e tondo Te l'ho detto chiaro e tondo diverse volte! clearly and plainly I've said it to you clearly and plainly several times!
ci vuole Quanto temple chi vuole per andare in Sardegna? it takes; is needed (singular) How long does it take to go to Sardinia?
ci vogliono Ci vogliono otto ore circa. it takes; are needed (plural) It takes about eight hours.
combinare Ma che diavolo stai combinando? to contrive, to be up to (mischief) What the devil are you up to?
conviene Ormai non conviene più aspettare. it is advisable Now it no longer makes sense to wait.
acqua in bocca Ora ti racconto un segreto, ma acqua in bocca! silence, not a word about it Now, I'll tell you a secret, but not a word about it.
alzare il gomito Non ti pare che stai alzando il gomito un po' troppo? to drink hard Don't you think you're drinking a little too hard?
ammazzare il tempo Cosa si potrebbe fare per ammazzare il tempo? to kill time What could we do to kill time?
avere l'acqua fino alla gola Credo che le cose gli vadano male e che abbia l'acqua fino alla gola. to be in great difficulties I think that things are going badly for him and that he's in great difficulties.
bisogna Domandiamo se bisogna prenotare i posti? one must; it is necessary Let's ask whether it's necessary to reserve the seats.
chiaro e tondo Te l'ho detto chiaro e tondo diverse volte! clearly and plainly I've said it to you clearly and plainly several times!
ci vuole Quanto temple chi vuole per andare in Sardegna? it takes; is needed (singular) How long does it take to go to Sardinia?
ci vogliono Ci vogliono otto ore circa. it takes; are needed (plural) It takes about eight hours.
combinare Ma che diavolo stai combinando? to contrive, to be up to (mischief) What the devil are you up to?
conviene Ormai non conviene più aspettare. it is advisable Now it no longer makes sense to wait.
dare nell'occhio Non mi piace quel vestito, dà troppo nell'occhio. to attract notice I don't like that dress, it attracts too much notice.
dare importanza Perché dai tanta importanza a queste cose? to place importance Why do you place so much importance on these things?
dipende (it) depends
essere in gamba Bravo, sei proprio in gamba! to be in good form, be on the ball Bravo, you're really on the ball!
fare bella figura to make a good impression, to cut a fine figure
fare brutta figura to make a bad impression, to cut a bad figure
far(e) finta di Non fare finta di non capire! to act as if, to pretend Don't pretend you don't understand!
importa Non importa, telefoniamo dopo. it is important It's not important, we'll phone later.
in bocca al lupo Domani hai gli esami? In bocca al lupo! good luck Your exams are tomorrow? Good luck!
lasciar perdere Non discutiamo più, lasciamo perdere. let things alone Let's not argue anymore, we'll let it alone!
mettere il naso Ma è possibile che tu debba mettere il naso dappertutto? to stick one's nose into Do you really have to stick your nose into everything?
non vedere l'ora Non vedo l'ora di andare in ferie. to be unable to wait I can't wait to go on vacation.
prendere in giro Ma tu ci prendi in giro! to pull someone's leg You're pulling our leg!
promettere mari e monti Prometti sempre mari e monti, e poi non fai mai niente. to make wild promises You always make wild promises and then you don't do anything.
restare a bocca asciutta Giulio sperava tanto di avere quel posto ed è restato a bocca asciutta. to be left empty-handed Giulio was hoping so much for that position, and now he's left empty-handed.
serve Cosa ti serve? need (singular) What do you need?
servono Mi servono due matite ed un quaderno. need (plural) I need two pencils and a notebook.
si capisce! certainly, of course
tirar avanti Come va? -Si tira avanti. to make one's way, to get along How are things going? -We're managing.
toccare a A chi tocca? -Tocca a voi. to be someone's turn Whose turn is it? -It's your turn.
la via d'uscita Mi dispiace, ma non vedo altra via d'uscita. way out I'm sorry, but I see no other way out.
la via di scampo Bisogna lavorare, non c'è via di scampo! way out, escape We have to work, there's no way out of it!
aver le carte in regola Luca ha tutte le carte in regola per ottenere quel posto. to have the papers in order; have a good hand Luca meets all the requirements for getting that position.
avere le mani bucate Ma tua figlia è sempre senza soldi, ha proprio le mani bucate! to be a spendthrift But your daughter is always broke, she really is a spendthrift!
avere un diavolo per capello Oggi è meglio non parlargli, ha un diavolo per capello. to be mad as a hornet Today it's better not to speak to him, he's mad as a hornet.
cogliere al volo L'ho colta al volo mentre aspettavo il tram. to pick up I picked it up while I was waiting for the streetcar.
cogliere la palla al balzo Giorgio è stato furbo, ha colto subito la palla al balzo. to seize the opportunity Giorgio was clever enough to seize the opportunity at once.
dai! Dai, muovetevi! go on!, Get going! Go on, get a move on!
essere al verde Stasera non si esce, siamo tutti al verde! to be penniless This evening no one's going out, we're all penniless!
molto fumo e poco arrosto Questa è la classica storia con molto fumo e poco arrosto. much ado about nothing This is the classic story of much ado about nothing.
non c'è due senza tre all things come in threes
piangere lacrime di coccodrillo to weep crocodile tears
rimanere a bocca aperta Quando l'ho sentito sono remasto a bocca aperta. to be astonished, bewildered When I heard that, I was astonished.
senza mezzi termini Adesso glielo spiego io senza mezzi termini! without half measures; without mincing one's words Now I'll tell it to him without mincing any words!
tagliare la corda Non vorrai mica tagliare la corda proprio ora! to clear out, to run away You don't want to run away just now!
tocca ferro! knock (on) wood! touch wood!
togliere il disturbo Le tolgo subito il disturbo, signora, vorrei dire solo due parole. to cease disturbing I won't bother you for long, ma'am, I only want a few words with you.
venire al sodo Basta con le chiacchiere, veniamo al sodo! to come to the point Enough chattering, let's get to the point!
la via di mezzo Bisognerebbe trovare una via di mezzo più sicura. middle course; way out A safer way out ought to be found.
vivere alla giornata Non è nel mio carattere vivere alla giornata. to live from hand to mouth It's not in my nature to live from hand to mouth.
vivere di pane ed acqua to live on bread alone
venire alle strette to get down to brass tacks
Created by: PilarDLS