Italian Word of the Day: Sfida (challenge)

Sfida (feminine, plural: sfide) is the Italian word for challenge. It refers to the act of challenging someone to a battle, duel, race or any other kind of competition to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.

It comes from the verb sfidare which means to challenge or to defy.


Some verbs you’ll frequently see used with sfida include:

  • lanciare una sfida = to issue a challenge / to challenge
  • accettare / raccogliere una sfida = to accept a challenge
  • sostenere / affrontare una sfida = to face a challenge
  • rifiutare una sfida = to refuse a challenge

Sono pronto per affrontare questa nuova sfida, cascasse il mondo!

I’m ready to face this new challenge, no matter what happens!

Up to top, overcoming challenges. Strong athletic man climbing stairs
Non rifiuterò mai una sfida! – I’ll never turn down a challenge!

In the world of sports, there are a number of ways in which sfida translates including competition, contest, match, and so on.

  • vincere una sfida = to win a contest / competition
  • perdere una sfida = to lose a contest / competition

La sfida tra la Juventus e la Roma è in programma questa sera alle venti e trenta.

The match between Juventus and Roma is scheduled tonight at 8.30 p.m.

Two men in boxing gloves and shorts are fighting in cage
La sfida tra i due pugili – The match between the two boxers

Sfida can also be used as a synonym for provocation. Place the preposition di in front, and you get di sfida which means defiantly or provocatively. For example, un’aria di sfida translates as a provocative demeanour whereas uno sguardo di sfida is a defiant look.

Quel giocatore mi ha fatto un gesto di sfida.

That player gave me a gesture of defiance.

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