Italian Word of the Day: Schiera (ranks / group)

Today we’re going to be looking at the Italian word schiera, which can be traced all the way back to the Franconian skara. It entered the language via the ancient French eschiere and the Provençal esquiera.

/schiè·ra/ – [ˈskjɛra]
Italian word "schiera"

Schiera is a feminine noun whose plural form is schiere. It takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • la schiera
  • le schiere
  • una schiera
  • delle schiere

The original meaning of the word, used in reference to soldiers in the army, is ranks, formation or troops. For example, una schiera di soldati would translate as a line or row of soldiers, wheres schiere nemiche means enemy troops.

Il comandante condurrà la schiera dall’accampamento alla città.

The commander will lead the troops from the camp to the city.

Polish army
Una schiera di soldati in marcia = A line of soldiers on the march

However, the meaning has since expanded to any homogenous group of animate or inanimate things, as in the following examples:

  • una schiera di turisti = a flock of tourists
  • una schiera di api = a swarm of bees
  • una schiera di libri = a hoard of books
  • una schiera di ammiratori = a host of admirers
  • una schiera di paparazzi = a crowd of paparazzi

Una schiera di formiche si presentò al nostro picnic!

A host of ants showed up at our picnic!

The expression a schiera means in a formation, and is recognisable in the common words case a schiera or villette a schiera, both of which means townhouses or terraced houses. The plural a schiere, on the other hand, is another way of saying in large numbers.

I tifosi si presentarono a schiere in piazza.

The supporters arrived in large numbers in the square.

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