I have read the following sentence in an Italian learning tool:

Abbiamo visto i tuoi disegni all'esibizione.

I thought that "esposizione/mostra" were the words used for a professional exhibition of art and "esibizione" was used for a generic display, such as a Science Fair or an exhibition of strenght. Can "esibizione" also be used for such an artistic event? If not, I assume it refers to amateur drawings (e.g., drawings of a child in the school).

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    Indeed, esibizione does definitely not mean “exhibition” in the sense of public display of artworks and the like. It's an ugly claque from English. The closest meaning of esibizione is some kind of sport, music etc. shows. Have I to repeat my opinion about those “learning tools”? :)
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 20:45
  • @DaG: Tuttavia, una delle accezioni di "esibizione" sul Grande dizionario della lingua italiana è «Esposizione, mostra; pinacoteca, museo», con questi esempi:
    – Charo
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 21:07
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    @AlanEvangelista That would be an amazing question to ask on this site, and I encourage you to do so! One of the reason is because of a big debate going back at least to the 16th century and not completely over today about what the Italian language really is. One of the prevailing schools of thought was the so-called "purist" school (who composed the majority of the writers of the Vocabolario della Crusca for most of its existence), which argued for a language as close as possible to the Tuscan models of the fourteenth century, and so when writing the dictionary they took care that (cont.)
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 6:12
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    (cont.) every word could be traced back to that ideal model: hence the emphasis on literary models, and especially on archaic literary models. It even took decades for "recent" authors like Tasso to be allowed into the Vocabolario. Since most of the early dictionaries were modeled on the Vocabolario della Crusca (indeed it was the first dictionary ever written!), they kept up the tradition of explaining words via literary models, although they often opened up a bit the cast of "acceptable writers", allowing recent and sometimes even contemporary authors.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 6:14
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    As an example of a very good, contemporary dictionary with a strong focus on modern Italian, check late Tullio De Mauro's dictionary; see for instance the entry fatto. Its main author was a great linguist especially interested in the different levels of use of Italian words and phrases.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


In contemporary Italian, esibizione does definitely not mean “exhibition” in the sense of public display of artworks and the like. It sounds like a claque from English like, say, realizzare (from “to realize”) to mean rendersi conto, or sottomettere (from “to submit”) to mean sottoporre, presentare. Nowadays, the closest meaning of esibizione refers to some kinds of sport, music etc. shows.

As pointed out by Charo, the Grande dizionario della lingua italiana records some past occurrences of esibizione as “Esposizione, mostra; pinacoteca, museo” with the examples “Rezzonico [in Migliorini, 572]: A Londra, all’Esibizione, vidi rappresentata assai bene in un quadro questa celebre abbazia. G. Raimondi, 3-304: Ci eravamo mossi, per visi­tare l’eccezionale esibizione dell’arte moderna. Si sa, come sia doveroso, in oggi, la costante, aggiornata informazione di cotesta instancabile arte, detta figurativa”.

  • Thanks! Which word would an amateur exhibition of drawings done by children in a school use? Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:08
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    I'd say mostra, mostly.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:21
  • off-topic: wordreference.com/iten/sottomettere says that one of the meanings of "sottomettere" is "to submit". treccani.it/vocabolario/sottomettere seems to agree: 2. Sottoporre, presentare al parere o al giudizio di altri: s. un quesito a un legale; s. una questione all’assemblea dei soci. In senso più astratto: s. un’idea, una tesi, una supposizione al giudizio della ragione, o al vaglio di una critica severa. Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:26
  • @AlanEvangelista: I had especially in mind the calque used by some colleagues of mine, when they say that sottomettono un articolo (submit a paper), which is especially funny used absolutely (not sottomettere a qualcuno/qualcosa), and in Italian sound simply like “subdue a paper”.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 19:24

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