Italian Word of the Day: Dissestato (ruined / uneven / bumpy)

Dissestato isn’t the kind of word you will come across in everyday Italian, but for those keen on expanding their vocabulary, it is one worth remembering.

/dis·se·stà·to/ – [dissesˈtato]
Italian word "dissestato"

Because it is an adjective, the ending changes to correspond with the gender and/or plurality of the subject:

  • dissestato = masculine, singular
  • dissestata = feminine, singular
  • dissestati = masculine, plural
  • dissestate = feminine, plural

First and foremost, it is used to describe things that have been damaged to the point of losing some or most of their stability. Some very common examples include:

  • una strada dissestata = an uneven / rutty / bumpy road
  • un fondo/manto stradale dissestato = an uneven road surface
  • una struttura dissestata = a damaged structure
  • un meccanismo dissestato = an unbalanced mechanism
  • una casa dissestata = a damaged / unstable house

Dicono che il marciapiede dissestato di via Milano verrà presto riparato.

They say the bumpy sidewalk in via Milano will soon be repaired.

Pits on the road, destroyed asphalt, erased markings of a pedestrian crossing
Il fondo/manto stradale è completamente dissestato = The road surface is in a terrible state

Figuratively speaking, it may also refer to something, such as a company, that is in financial difficulty.

Hanno tentato in tutti modi di salvare l’azienda, ma era troppo dissestata.

They tried in every way to save the company, but it was too financially unstable.

Used as a noun, dissestato (and the feminine dissestata) can denote a person who is in dire financial straits, although this usage is uncommon.

Related terms include the verb dissestare, which means to destabilise, to upset, to unbalance or to ruin, and the noun dissesto, meaning instability or disarray.

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