The Italian word for patience is pazienza (feminine, plural: pazienze). You can trace the origin of the word back to the Latin patienta meaning suffering.
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Some common verbs you’ll see used with pazienza include:
- avere pazienza = to be patient, to have patience
- armarsi di pazienza = to prepare oneself to be very patient (lit: to arm oneself with patience)
- perdere la pazienza = to lose one’s patience
- far perdere la pazienza (a qualcuno) = to make (someone) lose their patience
- portare pazienza = to be patient
- mostrare pazienza = to show patience
Sto per perdere la pazienza!
I’m running out of patience!
In Italy, you will often hear the expressions abbi pazienza (singular, informal), abbia pazienza (singular, formal) and abbiate pazienza (plural), all of which are commands that literally mean be patient. You can also use the verb portare instead of avere (porta pazienza / porti pazienza / portate pazienza).
Although they can be used in their literal sense, these expressions are just as frequently used as a courteous way of apologising. Compare the follow two examples:
Although it can be used in the literal sense, this expression is just as frequently used as a courteous way of apologising. Compare the follow two examples:
Capita a tutti di attraversare momenti difficili. Abbi pazienza e si sistemerà tutto, vedrai! (literal)
We all go through difficult times. Be patient and everything will be fine, you’ll see!
Abbi pazienza, ma oggi non posso accompagnarti. (apology)
I’m sorry, but I can’t go with you today.
This expression can also be used as a complaint that is similar in meaning to the English exclamations Oh, come on! or Give me a break!
Abbi pazienza, come faccio a fare tutto in un giorno?
Oh come on, how can I do everything in one day?
Sometimes you may hear Pazienza! exclaimed in isolation, in which case it means the same as the English expressions Oh well! or Never mind!
Purtroppo la gita non è andata come speravo. Pazienza!
Unfortunately, the trip didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. Oh well!
Santa pazienza! (lit: saint patience), on the other hand, is a very mild expletive meaning For goodness sake!
A person who has una pazienza da certosino (lit: patience of a Carthusian monk) would certainly have no trouble playing un gioco di pazienza (a game, such as a puzzle, that requires patience and concentration).
Here are a few words related to pazienza in Italian:
- impazienza = impatience
- impaziente = impatient
- paziente = patient (it also means someone who’s receiving medical care, just like in English)
- pazientemente = patiently
- pazientare = to wait patiently, to bide one’s time
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.