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In conversation with Italian (specifically Sicilian) friends, a word has come up which we are struggling to reach a shared understanding of.

The Italian word is "sballati" and, when fed through Google Translate, it comes back as "How High" which is confusing to me as a mainly English speaker.

They say it is used when someone drinks, gambles, takes drugs, etc. to excess, so to me it seems to mean something like vice; but maybe someone can translate into English to clarify its meaning so that I do not use it inappropriately?

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It looks like it is related to the verb sballare Just a guess ... "rubbish!" – Jim's Mum Aug 31 '14 at 5:50
@Jim'sMum Thanks for commenting but we think not - it seems to be used when someone drinks, gambles, takes drugs, etc to excess – PolyGeo Aug 31 '14 at 5:59
I agree with egreg: if you are asking for an English word, this is not the right site, even if you explain it by means of an Italian word. – DaG Aug 31 '14 at 7:11
I agree that the question is off topic. Nevertheless, I must admit that this was interesting for me because I didn't know this word, "sballati". – Charo Aug 31 '14 at 7:55
I don't agree that it's off-topic. The person is asking for a clarification over an Italian jargon word, and aims at understanding its meaning so it's perfectly ok. @randomatlabuser's answer is perfect. – martina Aug 31 '14 at 10:36
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The noun sballo can have different usages. It can mean something that is able to provide "a thrill of pleasurable, often reckless excitement"; it can also mean "the sharp stimulant effect of alcohol or a drug". In these cases the word you might be looking for could be "kick", or even "trip".

The adjective "sballato" can mean something that is absurd, illogical, nonsensical; or it can mean a person that is under the effects of alcohol or heavy drugs; it is also used for people who live a reckless, highly irregular, almost insane life.

Typically, a person who is "sballata" could be someone who has just spent the night in a disco, perhaps drinking too much or taking drugs and dancing uninterruptedly until sunrise, or just having extreme fun, probably more than the body can - or should - actually take.

Finally, "sbàllati" is the imperative mood of the verb "sballare", and it is an invitation to have wild and reckless fun.

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In conversation with Italian .. a word has come up which we are struggling to reach a shared understanding of...The Italian word is "sballati"... maybe someone can translate into English to clarify its meaning so that I do not use it inappropriately?

"sballato" is the past participle of the verb "sballare" which has the root 'balla' which means 'a stupid, exaggerated statement': fib, bunkum, baloney

Therefore, if it is used in relation to things like 'price', 'extimate' etc. it means just 'exaggerated', 'out of proportions'; in relation to 'result', 'calculation' etc. it means 'wrong'; in relation to a mechanical device such as 'motore', 'contatore' it means 'out of order', 'busted'.

When it is used with relation to people its root is:

  • 1)'sballare' as an intransitive verb that means 'to go wrong/bust', 'to go beyond the acceptable limit'. "è uno sballato" means he is 'nuts', 'a twit'.

  • 2) 'sballo': "Nel gergo dei drogati, il particolare e temporaneo effetto di eccitazione e di benessere psicologici e fisici provocato dall’assunzione di droga". Therefore 'sballato' means 'drug-addict': 'quel bar è un covo di sballati", "è entrata in un giro di sballati"

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