Italian Word of the Day: Calabrone (hornet)

I’ve been stung by many api (bees) and vespe (wasps) in my lifetime, but I thank my lucky stars that I’ve never been on the receiving end of a calabrone sting!

The word calabrone comes from the Latin crabronem of the same meaning.

cover image with the word “calabrone” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of coffee

Calabrone is a masculine noun. The plural is calabroni.

un calabrone
il calabrone

dei calabroni
i calabroni

A hornet sting is una puntura di calabrone and the phrase to be stung by a hornet translates as essere punto/a da un calabrone. The part that holds the sting is called pungiglione (stinger).

Cosa accade quando si viene punti da un calabrone? – La puntura può provocare uno shock anafilattico nelle persone che sono allergiche al veleno iniettato dall’insetto.

What happens when you get stung by a hornet? – The sting can cause anaphylactic shock in people who are allergic to the venom injected by the insect.

A hornet macro shot
Un calabrone visto da vicino – A hornet seen up close

The idiomatic expression essere nero come un calabrone (to be as black as a hornet) describes someone with a very brown complexion, since hornets are dark in colour. In a figurative sense, it denotes a person who is in a very bad mood.

Since hornets, in addition to being dangerous, can also be quite irritating, the word also has the figurative meaning of pest or nuisance.

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