Italian Word of the Day: Farina (flour)

An ingredient that serves as the basis for a wide variety of baked goods is flour, known as farina (feminine, plural: farine) in Italian. It derives from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning.

italian word for flour

Flour is a powder made by grinding raw grains, roots, beans, nuts, or seeds. In addition to the standard white variety (farina bianca), there are many different types including:

  • farina di grano = wheat flour
  • farina di ceci = chickpea flour
  • farina di castagne = chestnut flour
  • farina gialla = corn meal
  • fior di farina = superfine flour
  • farina di segale = rye flour
  • farina di avena = oatmeal

Invece della farina bianca, ho usato la farina di ceci per fare i pancake.

Instead of white flour, I used chickpea flour to make pancakes.

flour in a bowl and Mama's hands in flour
Una ciotola di farina – A bowl of flour

If you call someone farina schietta or schietta farina (literally ‘sincere flour’), the implication is that they are sincere and loyal. It can also be used to describe the sincerity or truthfulness of a story, testimony, explanation, or justification.

Farina fossile, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that has been crumbled into a fine white powder. It is known as diatomaceous earth in English. Personally, I think the Italian term is easier to remember! 😉

Idioms featuring ‘farina’

Non è farina del tuo sacco

Literal translation: It’s not flour from your sack
English meaning: It’s not your work. / It’s plagiarised

La farina del diavolo finisce tutta in crusca

Literal translation: The devil’s flour all ends up as bran
English meaning: Things you obtain dishonestly will not give you happiness

Non è farina da far ostie / cialde

Literal translation: He/she is not flour to make hosts / wafers
English meaning: An expression said of someone around whom you should be careful or wary (often said in a playful way)

Spacciare / vendere semola per farina

Literal translation: To peddle / sell semolina for flour
English meaning: To make someone believe things that aren’t true

Le chiacchiere non fanno / danno farina

Literal translation: Small talk doesn’t make / give flour
English meaning: Talking without getting things done does not allow you to earn a living

Chi ha farina non ha la sacca e chi ha la sacca non ha farina

Literal translation: He who has flour does not have the sack and he who has the sack has no flour
English meaning: Certain things belong to those who do not know or cannot use them or vice versa

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