Italian Word of the Day: Gradasso (boaster / show-off)

Orlando Furioso (The Frenzy of Orlando) and its sequel Orlando Inamorato (Orlando in Love) are two of the longest epic poems ever written in the Italian language. And they are packed with hundreds of characters, some of whom are so well-known and influential that their names have made their way into the Italian dictionary!

One such character is Gradasso, who, in the former poem (written by Matteo Maria Boiardo in the late 1400s) is the king of Sericana and the Arab people of the Nabataeans. Described as impulsive, doggedly determined, and prone to exaggerating his courage and strength, his name has became synonymous with the words millantatore and smargiasso (both of which also mean “braggart” in Italian). Source:

/gra·dàs·so/ – [graˈdasso]
the word "gradasso" with a muscular man in the background

Although gradasso is technically a name, it is listed as a masculine noun in the dictionary, and as such, takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • il gradasso = the braggart
  • i gradassi = the braggarts
  • un gradasso = a braggart
  • dei gradassi = (some) braggarts
Muscular man showing off his strong body, tightening his muscles. Bodybuilding.

However, when referring to a female braggart, it requires a feminine endings -a and -e.

  • la gradassa = the braggart
  • le gradasse = the braggarts
  • una gradassa = a braggart
  • delle gradasse = (some) braggarts

The expression in which this word is most commonly used is fare il gradasso (lit. to do the Gradasso, or to behave like Gradasso). The closest English translation would be “to show off” or “to brag“.

Volevi fare il gradasso parlando in inglese, e invece hai fatto una brutta figura.

You wanted to show off by speaking in English, but instead you made a bad impression.

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