Italian Word of the Day: Marachella (mischief / prank / trick)

Marachella is a lovely-sounding Italian word that denotes a forbidden action, carried out in secret, that can be considered forgivable once discovered. In English, we can translate this word as mischief, prank or trick depending on the context.

/ma·ra·chèl·la/ – [maraˈkɛlla]
Italian word "marachella"

Marachella is a feminine noun, so it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • la marachella = the trick
  • le marachelle = the tricks
  • una marachella = a trick
  • delle marachelle = some tricks

According to Treccani, marachella is derived from the Hebrew meraggēl (explorer or spy). It is thought to be linked through the Triestine dialect to maraghèl, also meaning spy. Originally, it had the same meaning in Italian, but it has since come to signify mischief, prank or trick instead. Indeed, the original meaning survives in just one set phrase: fare la marachella (to be a spy).

A few common synonyms of marachella are birichinata, bricconata and birbanteria.

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