Italian Word of the Day: Putiferio (commotion / rumpus)

Some Italian words lend themselves to exploration, and putiferio is one such gem. It’s the perfect term for describing a commotion, uproar, or rumpus in Italian.

/pu·ti·fè·rio/ – [putiˈfɛrjo]
Italian word "putiferio"

This word, according to the Devoto-Oli dictionary, is a deformation of the word vituperio, meaning bitter or abusive language. It is derived from the late Latin “vituperium”, which in turn comes from “vituperare” (to vituperate), composed of “vitium” (fault) and “parare” (to prepare).

Being a masculine noun, it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • il putiferio = the commotion
  • i putiferi = the commotions
  • un putiferio = a commotion
  • dei putiferi = some commotions

It is common to see it used with verbs such as sollevare (to raise / stir up), far scoppiare (to start) and scatenare (to set off / unleash). Some possible translations include:

  • to kick up a fuss
  • to cause an uproar
  • all hell breaks loose

Security guard asking crowd to remain calm.

As with many words, putiferio also has a figurative meaning, which is mess, jumble or confusion.

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