Italian Word of the Day: Nascondere (to hide / conceal)

Whenever my mom and I take my son to school, he enjoys playing hide-and-seek behind the walls and buildings that line the streets, adding a bit of excitement to our daily stroll! His penchant for this game inspired me to write about the word nascondere, which translates to to hide.

/na·scón·de·re/ – [nasˈkondere]
italian verb nascondere

The word originates from the Late Latin (i)nabscondĕre, composed of the prefix in- and abscondĕre, through aphaeresis (the omission of the initial sound of a word).

Nascondere is an -ERE verb which is conjugated in the present tense in the following manner:

io nascondo = I hide
tu nascondi = you hide (informal)
lui nasconde = he hides
lei nasconde = she hides

Lei nasconde = you hide (formal)
noi nascondiamo = we hide
voi nascondete = you hide (plural)
loro nascondono = they hide

Nascondere is a transitive verb, which means it must always take a direct object. For example, in the phrase Elia nasconde l’uovo di cioccolato (Elia hides the Easter egg), the egg is the object.

But what if you want to describe the act of hiding from someone or something? In this case, you need to use the reflexive verb nascondersi (literally “to hide oneself”).

Cheerful brothers playing hide and seek at home
Il bambino si nasconde sotto il bancone = The boy is hiding under the counter

Figuratively, nascondersi can also refer to something, such as a fact, feeling or story, that is hiding or hidden behind something else, such as a facade or false emotion.

Coming back to hide-and-seek, this game is called nascondino in Italian, which is the combination of nascondere and the diminutive suffix -ino. Two synonyms for nascondino are nasconderella and nasconderello, both of which are primarily used in Rome. In order to win this game, you need to find a good nascondiglio (hiding place).

A nasconditore is a hider or concealer while the noun nascondimento refers to the act of hiding or concealing something. Keep in mind that these two words are mostly used in literary Italian.

Idiomatic expressions containing ‘nascondere’

Lanciare / Tirare il sasso e nascondere la mano

Literal translation: to throw the stone and hide the hand
English meaning: to intentionally do something that damages or offends someone else, only to deny involvement once exposed

Nascondere la testa sotto la sabbia

Literal translation: to hide one’s head under the sand
English meaning: to bury one’s head in the sand

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