Italian Word of the Day: Balordo (stupid / foolish)

Balordo is one of those fun Italian adjectives that you will rarely see in a textbook, but comes up all the time in casual conversation between native speakers. Its etymological origin has not been confirmed. It may derive from the French balourd, which in turn comes from the ancient French beslourd.


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Being an adjective, the ending changes according to the gender and/or plurality of the subject in question.

  • balordo = masculine, singular
  • balorda = feminine, singular
  • balordi = masculine, plural
  • balorde = feminine, plural

The primary translation for balordo is stupid, silly, foolish, harebrained or absurd. It can be used to describe both people (e.g. un uomo balordo = a foolish man) and things (un’idea balorda = a harebrained idea).

Non c’è niente di peggio che fare discorsi balordi con persone balorde.

There is nothing worse than talking about silly things with foolish people.

Cropped image of business colleagues shaking hands to confirm deal
Evita di fare affari con persone balorde. – Avoid doing business with foolish people.

A less common translation for balordo is dazed, stunned or groggy in reaction to a surprise or some kind of indisposition. For example, sentirsi balordo means to feel peculiar.

You can also use balordo when talking about a poorly made object or something does not bode well such as, for example, tempo balordo (unsettled weather) or un affare balordo (a bad deal).

Che tempo balordo! Prima sole, poi pioggia, poi sole… Adesso grandina pure!

What crazy weather! First sun, then rain, then sun… And now it’s hailing!

Sometimes balordo and its feminine equivalent balorda can function as nouns, in which case they translate as fool or idiot. If you say sta facendo il balordo, the person in question is acting like a fool.

In Italian slang, balordo is also one way of referring to a thug, delinquent or lowlife.

Etymologically related to this word are the terms:

  • balordone = literally a ‘big balordo
  • balordaggine = stupidity, monkey business
  • balordamente = stupidly, foolishly
  • sbalordito = amazed, astonished
  • sbalordire = to astound, to blow away
  • sbalorditivo = amazing, astonishing

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