We are all well aware that English is abound with words of Italian origin but did you know that Italian regularly borrows from English as well?
Italian has a long history of incorporating foreign words into its vocabulary but it is only in recent years that the amount of English vocabulary entering Italian has exploded. Some words depict new concepts such as selfie and sitcom whereas others have somehow succeeded in replacing the Italian equivalent such as meeting and weekend. And quite often, the original English meaning is partially or completely lost in translation!
Love it or hate it, it looks as if English vocabulary in Italian is here to stay. In this article, we take a look at ten of the most common loanwords you’ll encounter, all of which have a different meaning to the original English word.
English meaning: a toasted slice of bread
Italian meaning: a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese
Ho mangiato solo un toast a pranzo e adesso sono affamato.
I only ate a toasted sandwich for lunch and now I’m starving.
English meaning: literature that describes imaginary people, places and events
Italian meaning: a drama or TV series
La sceneggiatura della fiction è tratta da un romanzo.
The script of the TV series is based upon a novel.
3. Baby parking / Baby park
English meaning: the combination of these two words doesn’t exist
Italian meaning: a supervised play area where parents can leave their children while they shop
Ho lasciato mio figlio al baby park mentre facevo la spesa.
I left my son at the supervised play area while I went grocery shopping.
English meaning: an emotional state or reaction; an idea or belief
Italian meaning: chemistry between two people
Non c’è molto feeling tra di noi.
There isn’t much chemistry between us.
English meaning: a combination of qualities that is pleasing to the eye
Italian meaning: cosmetic bag, toiletry bag
Ho messo il dentifricio dentro il beauty.
I put the toothpaste inside the cosmetic bag.
English meaning: the latest and most popular style of clothing, hair or behaviour
Italian meaning: to be fashionable, chic, trendy
Wow, come sei fashion!
Wow, you’re so fashionable!
English meaning: a square or rectangular container with a flat base and sides
Italian meaning: a garage for a car, stall for horses, playpen, shower box
Ho bisogno di un box in affitto per la mia moto.
I need a rented garage for my motorcycle.
English meaning: the state of things as they actually exist
Italian meaning: a reality TV show
Non mi piace guardare i reality, sono così stupidi.
I don’t like watching reality TV shows, they’re so stupid.
English meaning: the act of buying goods from shops (food, clothes, etc.), the actual goods bought from a shop
Italian meaning: the act of shopping specifically for clothes and personal items
Melissa adora fare lo shopping con la sua migliore amica.
Melissa loves to go shopping with her best friend.
English meaning: a loose-fitting garment, typically a short petticoat
Italian meaning: men or women’s underpants
Ho bisogno di comprare dei slip nuovi. Quelli che ho sono tutti bucati.
I need to buy new underpants. The ones I’ve got have holes in them.
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.