Italian Idiom: Non avere peli sulla lingua (to not mince words)

Do you know someone who always speaks their mind, even if it means being brutally honest? In Italian, you can describe this kind of straight talker as “not having hairs on their tongue”: non avere peli sulla lingua. This idiom can be translated in a few ways including:

  • to not mince words
  • to not beat around the bush
  • to speak one’s mind

Non avere peli sulla lingua

To not mince words / beat around the bush

non avere peli sulla lingua

Let me give you an example. Imagine I step out with messy hair and bleary eyes from a sleepless night with my young son. (Yes, it happens a lot!) Someone who is “senza peli sulla lingua” might candidly remark, “You look terrible!” instead of opting for a more indirect approach like, “Did you have a late night?

Giovanna non ha peli sulla lingua. Dice sempre quello che pensa.

Giovanna doesn’t mince words. She always says what she thinks.

The origin of this idiom stems from the concept that if hairs were present on the tongue, they would impede smooth and clear speech. Those without a “hairy tongue” can communicate openly, although not necessarily with finesse!

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