Italian Word of the Day: Stento (hardship)

The masculine noun stento in Italian is used to describe a situation of severe suffering or privation, much like the word hardship in English.



/stèn·to/ – [ˈstɛnto]
italian word stento

It derives from the verb stentare which translates as to struggle, to find difficult or to scrape by.

Because stento begins with the letters st-, it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • lo stento = the hardship
  • gli stenti = the hardships
  • uno stento = a hardship
  • degli stenti = (some) hardships

A few common expressions in which stento appears in its plural form stenti include:

  • vivere fra/tra gli stenti = to live in poverty
  • crescere fra/tra gli stenti = to grow up in poverty
  • morire fra/tra gli stenti = to die in poverty
  • fare una vita di stenti (also valid with the singular di stento) = to live a life of hardship

Lo hanno salvato da una vita di stenti e sfruttamento.

They saved him from a life of hardship and exploitation.

Man holding empty wallet.

More generally, stento can mean difficulty or struggle, and in this sense, it often appears in the expression con stento, which means with difficulty.

Ha finito il compito con molto stento.

He completed the task with great difficulty.

A stento, on the other hand, is a synonym for a malapena, usually translating as barely or hardly in English.

Dopo l’incidente, Elia si reggeva a stento sulle gambe.

After the accident, Elia could hardly / barely stand up.

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment