Italian Word of the Day: Sfasato (out of phase / out of sorts)

The adjective sfasato in Italian, which derives from the verb sfasare (to dephase), is used in technical terms to mean out of phase mainly in reference to motors and electrical currents.


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What should be of interest to most learners of Italian isn’t so much the technical but rather the figurative meaning of this word. Namely, it can be used to describe a person who is not at their best due to fatigue or confusion.

When the issue is fatigue, some possible translations include out of sorts, off kilter or off colour. If confusion is the issue, the translations bewildered, confused or disoriented work best.

Il bambino era totalmente sfasato nonostante avesse fatto una lunga nanna.

The baby was completely out of sorts even though he’d had a long nap.

Abbiamo appena finito il trasloco, finalmente! Che sudata! Mi sento un po’ sfasato adesso.

We just finished the move, finally! What an effort! I feel a bit disoriented now.

Stressed or tired young female atelier owner sitting at table with opened laptop and waiting for orders
La povera commessa si sente sfasata dopo una dura giornata di lavoro.The poor saleswoman feels out of sorts after a hard day’s work.

When it ends in an o, sfasato is masculine. Its corresponding feminine and plural forms are:

  • sfasata (feminine, singular)
  • sfasati (masculine, plural)
  • sfasate (feminine, plural)

A few synonyms for sfasato you can come across are:

  • confuso = confused
  • stordito = dazed
  • disorientato = disoriented
  • stonato = out of sorts

Sfasato is also used quite a lot to talk about things that are out of sync, such as schedules or time zones.

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