Italian Word of the Day: Meno male (thank goodness)

In Italian, there’s no better exclamation to convey your relief than meno male. In English, it can be translated as thank goodness, or more casually, it’s like letting out a big sigh of relief – phew!

/mé·no mà·le/ – [ˈmeno ˈmale]
Italian interjection "meno male"

Meno means less whereas male means bad, so the expression literally means “less bad.”

Studio shot of a young woman against a grey background.
Ho superato l’esame, meno male! = I passed my exam, thank goodness!

There is some debate amongst academics about whether meno male should be written as one word or two. According to Accademia della Crusca, there are more registered cases of meno male being written as two words rather than one. What’s more, many dictionaries don’t even treat it as a standalone word but rather as an expression under meno (less).

Regardless, the Accademia della Crusca suggests that both variations are correct and even encourages the use of the unified spelling to distinguish it from the alternative meaning “less bad / not as bad.

If a declarative sentence follows meno male che… (thank goodness that…), the verb in that sentence should be in the indicative mood, not the subjunctive. For example:

There are a few possible synonyms for meno male including:

  • fortunatamente = fortunately, luckily
  • per fortuna = fortunately, luckily
  • grazie a Dio = thank God
  • grazie al cielo = thank goodness

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