Italian Word of the Day: Accanito (relentless / obstinate)

If you can imagine a dog sinking its teeth into your favourite pair of shoes and refusing to let go no matter how hard you pull, you are already halfway to understanding the meaning of the adjective accanito!

/ac·ca·nì·to/
cover image with the word “accanito” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

Accanito itself derives from the word for dog in Italian, which is cane. It is used to describe people or things, like the aforementioned canine shoe thief, that are unrelenting in nature.

Because it can have either a positive or negative connotation, there are numerous possible translations for this word, including:

POSITIVE

diehard, passionate, dogged, keen, tenacious

NEGATIVE

fierce, obstinate, stubborn, heated, violent, ruthless, relentless, inveterate

To get an idea of how accanito can be used in a sentence, take a look at the following example phrases:

Mario è un tifoso accanito della Juve.

Mario is a diehard Juve fan.


Mio zio è un fumatore accanito.

My uncle is a relentless smoker.


Il circuito di Le Mans è stato teatro di una lotta accanita tra i due piloti.

Le Mans’ racetrack was the scene of a fierce battle between the two drivers.


Young parents having argument by breakfast with their little daughter sitting near by
Una discussione accanita = A heated argument

Given that accanito is an adjective, the ending changes for the feminine and plural forms.

  • accanito = masculine, singular
  • accanita = feminine, singular
  • accaniti = masculine, plural
  • accanite = feminine, plural

Related to accanito is the verb accanirsi which also has various meanings including:

  • to pick on (someone)
  • to throw oneself into (something)
  • to rage (against something)

Il governo corrotto si è accanito contro il popolo.

The corrupt government persecuted the people.


Likewise, the noun accanimento can translate as rage, fury, doggedness or tenacity.

Rally driver, the man in the helmet tensely and seriously looking forward, side view through the car window at the racer participating in the rally
Il pilota guida con grande accanimento. = The driver drives with great tenacity.

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