The word squarciagola in Italian, when preceded by the preposition a (at), is the equivalent of the idiomatic English expressions at the top of one’s lungs or at the top of one’s voice. Note that there is an equivalent expression in Italian: a pieni polmoni (lit. with one’s lungs full).
It is a combination of two words: the verb squarciare meaning to tear and the noun gola meaning throat. The literal translation is something along the lines of ‘as if tearing one’s throat‘.
Some common verbs you’ll see used with squarciagola include:
- gridare a squarciagola = to shout at the top of one’s lungs
- urlare a squarciagola = to scream at the top of one’s lungs
- cantare a squarciagola = to sing at the top of one’s lungs
Abbiamo cantato a squarciagola per tutta la sera e ora non abbiamo più voce.
We sang at the top of our lungs all evening and now we’ve lost our voices.
Synonyms of squarciagola you might encounter include:
- a gran voce (lit. with a big voice)
- a voce spiegata (lit. with a loud voice = to speak out loud)
- a perdifiato (lit. breathlessly)