Italian Idiom: Ogni morte di papa (once in a blue moon)

If you wish to convey that something occurs infrequently, or to use an English idiom, “once in a blue moon,” you can employ the Italian idiomatic expression (a) ogni morte di papa.

(a) ogni morte di papa

rarely / once in a blue moon

ogni morte di papa

The literal translation of this phrase is “with every death of a pope”. Used in a hyperbolic sense, this expression emphasises the infrequent nature of a pope’s passing.

Ormai uso il telefono fisso a ogni morte di papa. Preferisco il cellulare.

I rarely use my landline these days. I prefer my cellphone.

Sometimes people will say una volta ogni morte di papa, with una volta meaning “once.”

From below barber combing hair of handsome stylish male sitting in barbershop
Va dal barbiere una volta ogni morte di papa. = He goes to the barber once in a blue moon.

A variation on this idiom swaps papa with another religious figure, il vescovo (bishop).

Cantanti come Freddy Mercury nascono ogni morte di vescovo.

Singers like Freddy Mercury are born once in a blue moon.

Some possible synonyms for this idiom include:

  • raramente = rarely
  • di rado = rarely
  • poco frequente = infrequent
  • infrequentemente = infrequently
  • quasi mai = almost never
  • di tanto in tanto = every now and then
Italian idiom "ogni morte di papa"

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment