Are you wondering what the best Italian word is to describe that Scrooge in your life, the one who wouldn’t part with a penny if his or her life depended on it? Well, you’re in luck! 😉
The word for stingy in Italian is tirchio. According to Treccani, it likely comes from the old dialectal word pirchio, and may also be related to the verb tirare (to pull, to throw).
Because it is an adjective, the ending changes depending on whether you are talking about a man or a woman, or one person versus many people.
- tirchio = masculine, singular
- tirchia = feminine, singular
- tirchi = masculine, plural
- tirchie = feminine, plural
Dario è molto tirchio, non sgancia mai una lira.
Dario is very stingy, he never coughs up a penny.
Trivia: lira is the name of the former Italian currency, which was replaced by the Euro in 2002.
I’ve often wondered if there is any other word in the English language with as many synonyms as stingy, and I believe the same can be said for its Italian equivalent. Just as we can say penny-pinching, miserly, close-fisted, tight-fisted, skinflint and parsimonious, Italians can pick from the following wealth of options: avaro, stitico, taccagno, pezzente, gretto and spilorcio.
You may sometimes hear tirchio paired with the suffixes -one (meaning ‘big’) and -accio (pejorative).
Non voglio spendere cinquanta centesimi per entrare. – Sei un bel tirchione, lo sai?
I don’t want to spend fifty cents to go in. – You’re a real miser, you know that right?