Italian Word of the Day: Purtroppo (unfortunately)

Purtroppo, which is the word for unfortunately in Italian, is an adverb that derives from the union of two words: pure (which indicates something extra) and troppo (too much / too many). When joined, pure loses the final e.

IPA: /pur·tròp·po/

Originally, purtroppo had the meaning of pure se è troppo (even if it is too much) but over the years, it has become more closely associated with the words sfortunatamente, disgraziatamente and malauguratamente. However, as you can see below, these three synonyms have more serious undertones:

  • sfortunatamente: used in situations where bad luck is involved (sfortuna means bad luck)
  • disgraziatamente: even stronger than sfortunatamente, used in tragic situations involving death and injury (disgrazia means terrible loss or misfortune)
  • malauguratamente: used in situations where ill omens are involved (malaugurio means ill omen or doom)

If someone asks if you have to go to work tomorrow when you’d rather stay at home, you might express your regret or disappointment by saying Purtroppo, sì (Yes, unfortunately). You might also use purtroppo when you have to deliver bad news to someone as in the example below.

Purtroppo il viaggio è stato annullato.

Unfortunately the trip has been cancelled.


Did you know that…?
Many Italians mistakenly write and pronounce purtroppo as pultroppo. This is because the r sound next to the t is barely audible. To complicate matters, pultroppo is also a common pronunciation in some Italian dialects. (Source: Pennerosse)

disappointed young man at a bar puts his hand on his face
Purtroppo la nostra squadra non ha vinto. – Unfortunately our team didn’t win.

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