Italian Word of the Day: Menefreghismo (couldn’t-care-less-attitute / indifference)

If you happen to meet someone who simply doesn’t care about other people’s problems or the issues facing the world, they may be suffering from what is called menefreghismo in Italian (masculine, plural:menefreghismi).

Sadly, there isn’t really a word-for-word translation for menefreghismo in English, which is a shame because we could definitely benefit from a word like this!

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

It is the combination of the expression me ne frego and the suffix -ismo (-ism). Literally, it translates as something close to “I-don’t-give-a-damnism”. Most dictionaries provide the translations indifference, callousness and couldn’t-care-less-attitude.

Non è un ragazzo cattivo, ma il suo menefreghismo lo rende antipatico a tutti.

He’s not a bad guy, but his couldn’t-care-less-attitude makes him appear unpleasant to everybody.

The word menefreghista describes a person who doesn’t care about other people or what’s happening around him or her (or in other words, it refers to a person who suffers from menefreghismo). You can also use it as an adjective. Here as well, there isn’t a direct translation in English.

In ufficio fa sempre il menefreghista. Prima o poi lo licenzieranno.

He always has an uncaring attitude at the office. Sooner or later they’ll fire him.

Bored guy with open book looking at camera
Odio il suo atteggiamento menefreghista! = I hate his couldn’t-care-less attitude!

What does ‘Me ne frego’ mean in Italian

Me ne frego means I don’t care or I don’t give a damn. It contains the verb fregare, which translates in many ways: to rub/scrub, to steal, to cheat or to care less. From fregare we also get the colloquial form fregarsene, which is an intransitive pronominal verb and the version you see in this expression. Here is how you conjugate it:

(io) me ne frego
(tu) te ne freghi
(lui/lei) se ne frega
(noi) ce ne freghiamo
(voi) ve ne fregate
(loro) se ne fregano

Before the First World War, when Fascism had an iron grasp on the country, the slogan me ne frego was popular amongst members of the arditi, a special force of soldiers who volunteered for the front and didn’t care if they lost their lives.

Me ne frego was also the title of one of the most famous songs of the Fascist era, in which the old war song of the arditi appears in the third stanza.

Me ne frego
I don’t care

me ne frego
I don’t care

me ne frego è il nostro motto
I don’t care is our motto

me ne frego di morire
I don’t care if I should die

per la santa libertà!
For our sacred freedom!

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