10 New Words in the Italian Language

Jan 18, 2016


Nuove Parole

New Words

Some 500 new words are making their official debut in the 2016 edition of Italy’s dizionario Zingarelli. One in ten is English. (Una su dieci è inglese.) Others reflect the latest trends in our changing world. Here’s a sampling:

*Jihadista –- used for one who supports Jihad (utilizzato per chi sostiene la Jihad), a term that has entered the common imagination (l’immaginario collettivo) through reports from the news and television programs (notiziari e programmi televisivi).

*Svapare –- smoking an electronic cigarette (fumare una sigaretta elettronica), which emits a characteristic vapor similar to smoke (un caratteristico vapore simile al fumo). It’s still not known if electronic cigarettes are less dangerous. (Non si è ancora capito se le sigarette elettroniche facciano meno male.)

*Coding — programming of computer software and the web (programmazione di software per computer e web). In an increasingly digital society (una società sempre più digitale), more terms related to the use of computers (legati all’utilizzo dei computer) are entering everyday speech—often in English.

*Poltronismo –- una poltrona is an easy or comfy chair, so this might translate into “big-chair-ism” in English. But in Italian politics, it describes an “atteggiamento che diventa quasi un’ossessione “ (attitude that becomes almost an obsession) to occupy poltrone, di ricoprire incarichi (chairs, or hold positions of power).

*Supercazzola -– a word or phrase that makes no sense (parola o frase senza senso), uttered with great seriousness (serietà) solely to amaze and confuse (sbalordire e confondere) others. The term was first used in an Italian cult comedy of the 1970’s, Amici miei, directed by Mario Monicelli. Click here for a clip. 

*Sciarpata –-this term describes Italy’s equivalent of “the wave” in an American stadium: the coreografia dei tifosi di una squadra (choreography of the fans of a team), who sway back and forth stendendo tra le mani la sciarpa del proprio team del cuore (stretching between their hands the scarf of their favorite team)

*Disposofobia -– compulsive hoarding or paura ossessiva di eliminare oggetti e abiti (obsessive fear of throwing away objects and clothing) and the conseguente tendenza patologica ad accumularli (the consequent pathological tendency to accumulate them). Victims tend to be women who never want to buttare un vestito o un paio di scarpe vecchie (throw away a dress or pair of old shoes) while they continue to accumulare nuovi capi d’abbigliamento (accumulate new clothes)

*Bartender -– in Italy, a barista whips up an espresso or cappuccino at a bar (café), so Italian uses the English “bartender” for colui che prepara e serve i cocktail (one who prepares and serves cocktails).

*Acquaponica — a type of mixed farming (una tipologia di agricoltura mista) that involves growing plants with their roots in water rather than soil (facendo crescere piante con le radici in acqua anziché nella terra).

*Italofobiaatteggiamento di avversione (an attitude of aversion), di odio nei confronti dell’Italia e degli italiani (of hate against Italy and the Italians). Although new to the dizionario, the word dates back to the 19th century, when Italian immigrants in the United States and European countries were discriminated against and  attacked as “brutti, sporchi e cattivi” (ugly, dirty and bad). The bias persisted in cliches based on shows such as  The Sopranos and Jersey Shore.  Italians may also criticize their country–but rise to its defense when others engage in "Italy bashing."

Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discoverednow available in paperback, and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.


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