It’s time for a new round of Italian ways of saying, don’t you think?
After writing two posts about ways of saying that have something to do with food and other two about idiomatic phrases that are related to animals, I thought it was time to write a post about Italian idiomatic phrases related to numbers.
This idea came to me one day when, while telling a friend about something which ended up really bad, I said: “è finito tutto a carte quarantotto“. After saying such a thing, I realized that there are quite a few Italian ways of saying that include numbers, so I went ahead and wrote this post.
As I told you before, I love writing this kind of posts because they are really nice and funny and give me the opportunity to reflect on the language to find out why we say a certain thing and what is the history behind a specific way of saying.
I love languages and it’s always great to learn new things about them – even when it is your own native language you are focusing on.
As I did for the other posts of this series, I created a pdf file that contains all the idiomatic phrases I am listing here below. Actually the pdf file I compiled for this specific post has something more: it contains a list of examples, so that you can see how a certain way of saying is applied in real language.
You can find the file in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here. I do hope you’ll find it interesting!
Well, let’s discover the Italian idiomatic phrases that have to do with numbers, shall we?
Dare i numeri
Literal meaning: to give the numbers
Actual meaning: to go crazy
Sparare a zero
Literal meaning: to shoot to zero
Actual meaning: to say bad things about someone or something
Fare due chiacchiere
Literal meaning: to have two chats
Actual meaning: to have a little chat
Su due piedi
Literal meaning: on two feet
Actual meaning: immediately
Fare due più due
Literal meaning: to make two plus two
Actual meaning: to put things together to finally realize or understand something
Due lati della stessa medaglia
Literal meaning: two sides of the same coin
Actual meaning: even if two things seem different, they are the same
Prendere il due di picche
Literal meaning: to get the two of spades
Actual meaning: to be turned down in matters of love or sex
Contare come il due di picche a briscola
Literal meaning: to count as the two of spades at briscola (Italian card game)
Actual meaning: not to count for anything, to have no importance
Non c’è due senza tre (e il quattro vien da sè)
Literal meaning: there is no two without three (and four comes on its own)
Actual meaning: if something (usually negative) happens twice, it will surely happen a third time
Tra i due litiganti, il terzo gode
Literal meaning: between two disputants, the third is happy
Actual meaning: if two people fight, it may be that it’s a third one who gets some kind of benefit
Ogni due per tre
Literal meaning: every two multiplied by three
Actual meaning: often
Chi fa da sè, fa per tre
Literal meaning: he who does it on his own, does it for three people
Actual meaning: things turn out better if you do them on your own instead of asking for help
Sbandierare ai quattro venti
Literal meaning: to flaunt at four winds
Actual meaning: to tell everybody
Farsi in quattro
Literal meaning: to make oneself in four
Actual meaning: to work hard, to do a lot (usually for others)
In quattro e quattr’otto
Literal meaning: in four and four eight
Actual meaning: suddenly, very fast
Dirne quattro a qualcuno
Literal meaning: to tell four to somebody
Actual meaning: to reprimand or scold someone
Costare quattro soldi
Literal meaning: to cost four coins
Actual meaning: to be very cheap
Partire in quarta
Literal meaning: to start in fourth
Actual meaning: to start something with great enthusiasm and excitement
Sudare sette camicie
Literal meaning: to sweat seven shirts
Actual meaning: to work hard to obtain something
Contare fino a dieci
Literal meaning: to count to ten
Actual meaning: to think before doing or saying something
Fatto trenta, si fa trentuno
Literal meaning: when thirty is done, let’s do thirty-one
Actual meaning: if you have already done something big, you can go an extra mile and do something else
Finire a carte quarantotto
Literal meaning: to end in cards forty-eight
Actual meaning: to fail, to end in a mess or very badly
Fare un quarantotto
Literal meaning: to make a forty-eight
Actual meaning: to make a mess
Dirlo cento volte
Literal meaning: to say something a hundred times
Actual meaning: to repeat something over and over
Literal meaning: thanks a thousand!
Actual meaning: to give thanks
Now it’s your turn! Are there similar ways of saying in your language? Let me know in the comments below!
As I told you at the beginning of this post, I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned together in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
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