Today we have a fun word that made me smile from ear to ear the first time I encountered it!
Nientepopodimeno is a humorous variation on the adverbs nientemeno and nientedimeno, both of which usually translate as no less (than). It is normally followed by the comparative conjunction che (than).
Let’s break down the word to make it a little easier to digest:
- Niente means nothing
- Popo comes from po’ po’ (poco poco) which literally translates as ‘a little a little‘ but ironically means just the opposite
- (Di) meno means less
Il Signor Rossi ha nientepopodimeno che centodieci anni!
Mr. Rossi is no less than one hundred and ten years old!
Like the vast majority of words in the Italian dictionary, it is difficult to assess with absolute certainty when they were used for the very first time, but we know who played an essential role in spreading nientepopodimeno. All credit goes to Roman actor Mario Riva, who, between 1958 and 1960, presented a quiz and variety television program called Il Musichiere. He would use the word to introduce his most prestigious guests. (Source: Accademia della Crusca)
In the video below, you can hear him use this word to introduce Nat King Cole.
Far less commonly, nientepopodimeno may be used as an exclamation of surprise or shock. For example:
Ho fatto una scommessa e ho vinto un milione di euro! – Nientepopodimeno!
I placed a bet and won a million euros! – You don’t say!
The closest Italian synonym to this word, which also happens to be used more frequently, is addirittura.