Italian Word of the Day: Carponi (on all fours)

The adverb carponi (also written as a carponi or the less common carpone) is how you would say on all fours or on one’s hands and knees in Italian. It is probably connected with the Latin carpere which means to swipe or to pilfer.

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

Some common verbs you’ll see used with carponi include:

  • camminare carponi = to walk on all fours, to crawl
  • avanzare carponi = to crawl on all fours
  • strisciare carponi = to crawl on all fours
  • stare / essere carponi = to be on all fours
  • mettersi carponi = to get down on all fours

Per nascondersi dai paparazzi, l’attore ha camminato carponi fra le automobili.

To hide from the paparazzi, the actor crawled on all fours amongst the cars.

Senior fitness lady standing on all fours, straightening leg up, exercising at home
Si è messa a carponi per fare yoga. – She got down on all fours to do yoga.

To emphasise the prolonged duration or discomfort of being on all fours, there also exists the doubled (and somewhat antiquated) version carpon carponi.

A synonym for carponi is gattoni which comes from the verb gattonare (to crawl). You’ll also encounter the expression a quattro zampe (lit: on four paws), especially for animals.

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