Italian idioms: my strategy to group them

Ciao! I am happy to see you here!
My name is Irene Cangi.

I help Italian learners to enrich their vocabuary and move from a good Italian to a WOW Italian.

You can try all my courses for one week and start improving your Italian. And yes, the trial includes a lot of Italian idioms!

Are you trying to improve your Italian with idioms? 

There you are! You’ve just decided to start enriching your Italian vocabulary in pursuit of speaking like a native Italian. It is probably clear that idioms are the next category in your Italian vocabulary journey.

Well good for you because you are in the right place. One of the main goals of Best Italian Classes is to help advanced learners of Italian to master idioms.

Get my free grid template for advanced Italian vocabulary and idioms

I know very well that all language learners collect new vocabulary one way or another. If the next chapter of your notebook says “ Italian Idioms” the first thing you need to know is that there are a lot of them.

To make things easier, I recommend breaking down your different idioms into subcategories according to their semantic area. If you don’t want to do all of the work on your own, remember that you can download my free Excel file to assist your learning of these advanced vocabulary topics.

Italian idioms with body parts 

Oh trust me, there are so many idioms related to parts of the body that they can almost be broken down into two separate categories: head and body.

Let’s add a couple of them to your list right now.

Avere qualcosa sulla punta della lingua.

This Italian idiom describes that feeling when you know what you want to say but that exact word seems to have disappeared from your memory. 

Avere polso.

If you literally “have wrist” , you are resolute and able to keep the situation or other people  under control. 

There are so many Italian idioms with the parts of the head that I’ve created a whole course on the topic.

Italian idioms with clothing vocabulary 

Yes, fashion is so important to Italians that we actually use clothing vocabulary to describe things completely unrelated to clothing. If I say:

Best Italian Classes è tutto un altro paio di maniche
I’m not talking about my jacket or shirt, I am stating that Best Italian Classes is very good (if you don’t mind me saying…)

Attaccare bottone
Can you stitch a button on a shirt? Although this is something no one does anymore …. Attaccare bottone has a completely different meaning. It means to start chatting with someone you don’t know, to begin a conversation.

With this topic being so important to speaking like a native Italian speaker, I decided to create an entire FREE course about Italian idioms with clothing vocabulary!

Italian idioms with animals

Like many other languages, Italian also has countless idioms with animals. Are you feeling desperately lonely? Then you are...

Solo come un cane.

There was almost no one at the party? 

C’erano quattro gatti alla festa.

Literally four cats! 

Not only can animals be the protagonists of an idiom, but we also use parts of animals in our idioms. In Italian we have different idioms with the word coda (tail) or becco (beak) for some examples.

Italian idioms with natural elements 

Water, fire, ground, sea… Italians also like using this category of words in their idioms. Let’s see a couple of examples to start enhancing your Italian vocabulary with these types of idioms.

Sono a terra. 

If you are “on the ground” you are sad or tired.

To feel happier you could stop worrying about everything that is 

Acqua passata

which means ‘belongs to the past’!

Italian idioms with religion vocabulary 

Religion is a part of the Italian stereotype, we have the Pope and we have churches everywhere. With this being said, we also use it in our idioms! Let’s use an example with two religious elements.

Essere come il diavolo e l’acqua santa.

If you use this expression, you are describing two people or two things that are the exact opposite, these two people or things will hardly suit each other.

Italian idioms with food 

The best for last? Food and its importance in Italian culture needs no explanation, that is why it is also a big part of the language. I could use tons of examples here. Imagine you are having a conversation with your Italian friend and suddenly he says…

Se non è zuppa è pan bagnato.

No, he’s not talking about dinner. He’s talking about something that has different names but in the end it is always the same thing.

Italian idiomatic expressions are a part of my daily content on my Instagram. Join my community to enrich your Italian vocabulary every day!

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