Italian Word of the Day: Squarciagola (the top of one’s lungs)

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.

Leader of strikers young motivated man with loudspeaker yelling demands, raising fist up, leading international group of demonstrators fighting for human rights, against racism, for climate change
Il manifestante urlò a squarciagola. – The protester yelled at the top of his lungs.

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)

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