Italian Word of the Day: Gironzolare (to wander / to hang around)

Today we’re going to be taking a look at the verb gironzolare, which describes the act of walking or moving around a place without any particular aim. Some possible English translations include to wander, to hang around or to loiter.

cover image with the word “gironzolare” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

As you might have guessed, gironzolare derives from the verb girare which means to turn / to spin or to travel around.

Since gironzolare is a regular -are verb, it is quite easy to conjugate. Here is the full conjugation in the present indicative tense:

(io) gironzolo
I wander

(tu) gironzoli
you (informal) wander

(lui / lei / Lei) gironzola
he/she/you (formal) wander

noi gironzoliamo
we wander

voi gironzolate
you (plural) wander

loro gironzolano
they wander

È da più di tre ore che gironzola per le vie della città. Spero che non si sia persa.

She’s been wandering the city streets for more than three hours. I hope she is not lost.

Young black woman drinking coffee wandering in the streets of Madrid on winter
Gironzolando per la città = Wandering around the city

Sometimes it can denote a suspicious looking individual who is hanging around a place or person.

Hai visto quel tipo strano che gironzola nell’atrio? Cosa vuole, secondo te?

Have you seen that weird guy hanging around in the foyer? What do you think he wants?

Portrait of mature bearded man looking suspicious at dark staircase
Un uomo sospetto che gironzola per le scale. = A suspicious man wandering up and down the stairs.

It can also be used for a person who hangs around someone else with the intention of pursuing him or her. In this case, it is followed by intorno (a) (with intorno meaning around).

Ci sono sempre un sacco di ragazzi che gironzolano intorno a Laura. – Ti credo. È una bellissima ragazza.

There are always a lot of boys hanging around Laura. – I believe you. She is a very beautiful girl.

A much less common variation on gironzolare is gironzare. Some other synonyms for this verb include:

  • girellare = to wander around aimlessly (iterative verb of girare, to go around)
  • bighellonare = to waste time wandering around aimlessly (from the noun bighellone, meaning loafer)
  • ciondolare = to wander around idly or aimlessly
  • andare in giro = to go around, to go for a stroll, to travel around
  • girovagare = to wander, to roam (from the word girovago, meaning wanderer)
  • vagabondare = to wander, to roam (from the noun vagabondo, meaning vagabond or nomad)

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