Italian Word of the Day: Strafalcione (big mistake / clanger)

Have you ever made a mistake so big that it has continued to haunt you over the years? Then strafalcione is the word for you!

cover image with the word “strafalcione” and a woman worried in the background

Because strafalcione is a masculine noun starting with the consonants st-, it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

lo strafalcione
the big mistake

uno strafalcione
a big mistake

gli strafalcioni
the big mistakes

degli strafalcioni
(some) big mistakes

A strafalcione is the kind of big mistake, blunder or clanger one generally makes when writing or speaking. For example, a student might receive a poor grade for submitting an assignment pieno di strafalcioni (full of mistakes), just as a politician might become a laughing stock due to a single strafalcione in his speech.

Il docente ha detto uno strafalcione oggi. – Cos’ha detto? – Ha detto che l’Italia è più grande dell’America!

The teacher dropped a real clanger today. – What did he say? – He said that Italy is bigger than America!

woman sitting near a window realising a mistake she did working with her laptop
Che strafalcione che ho fatto nella mail! = What a stupid mistake I made in my email!

The word derives from the verb strafalciare, which means to work poorly, or to make a big mistake out of ignorance or carelessness. The verb is the combination of falciare (to mow, to cut, to scythe) and the prefix stra- meaning ‘extra‘ or ‘over‘.

By extension, strafalcione may also denote a man who works in a careless manner, with strafalciona being the feminine equivalent.

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