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Is "essere fuori come un balcone" a well recognized phrase in regional usages?

One time I tell it to a person in Sicily, who was badly parking their car, and I had the impression that they didn't understand that phrase.

  • 3
    It is used in Lombardy but I don't know if people from other regions use it. – mariosangiorgio Nov 10 '13 at 13:29
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    Should we add a idioms tag? – egreg Nov 10 '13 at 16:35
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    Also: "essere fuori come una biscia" – Sklivvz Nov 10 '13 at 16:44
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    Living in Genova I've also commonly heard it. – o0'. Nov 10 '13 at 19:24
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    I live in Milan but I'm originally from Veneto. The expression "esser fuori come un balcone" was new (and bizarre) to me when I first heard it some four-five years ago, used by a friend who lives in Emilia. Now I hear people use it around here as well, and on top of everything else I've also frequently heard "esser fuori come un citofono" and recently "esser fuori come una roulotte". Never heard the one mentioning a "biscia". – Paola Nov 12 '13 at 23:29
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I believe it comes from essere fuori di senno (having lost one's mind), which is frequently contracted in essere fuori in popular language. Then, this fuori is qualified with something which is commonly outside something else: a balcony sticks out of a house.

So it's like è fuori di senno come un balcone è fuori dalla casa, but this of course loses freshness.

Its usage is regional, but spreading, so it's not surprising somebody doesn't understand it.

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As others already pointed out, in Italian we have the expression

Essere fuori di testa/senno

which almost directly translates to the English

To be out of mind

It is then often abbreviated into

Essere fuori

which translates to the English

To be outside

Whenever one wants to add more emphasis, some analogies for being outside are used.

Essere fuori come un balcone is indeed one of the most common in my region (I'm from Milano in Lombardia), but I bet many other regions have their own versions of it.

For instance I occasionally heard

Sei fuori come una mina

deriving - I believe - from mines (the bombs) to be generally placed in open fields. Generally speaking I think any native speaker would understand any sentence following the pattern Sei fuori come < X >, regardless of having heard the analogy before or not. It might sound weird, but it wouldn't lose the meaning.

Another funny example is

Sono fuori come gli agricoltori che raccolgono i pomodori

as found in the song "Sono fuori" by Articolo 31 (lyrics).

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1

The expression should be understood as essere fuori di testa come un balcone è fuori dalla casa. In Northern Italy, the expression would be understood by everybody. In other regions, the expression may not be understood, and the shorter essere fuori di testa or essere fuori di senno is the most used one. What probably makes the first sentence not clear to everybody is that di testa is implicit.

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    Never heard of the usage for breasts and doesn't really "feel right"; it would be more convincing if there was some implicit reference to the breasts ("ce le ha fuori come un balcone"?), although you can never exclude anything when talking about "covert male jargon". ;) – Matteo Italia Nov 11 '13 at 14:25
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You can think of it as a series, originated by the first and then somehow personalised by different people from different regions, I'm from Genova (Genoa) where it's usage is really common and with regional variants. (You'll find one at the bottom of the list.) All versions mean you are out of your mind. The more common I've heard are:

  • essere fuori di senno (Probably the original version and the more traditional one.)
  • essere fuori di testa (Originally among young people, which by now got old.)
  • essere fuori (The implicit, shorter version which is also heard as ma sei fuori?, as rhetoric question.)
  • essere fuori come un balcone (It was very common when I was a student in the 60's, and still is.)
  • essere fuori come un poggiolo (It has the same meaning of essere fuori come un balcone in local dialects, and it is also used since 60's.)

I now live in the Southern Italy, and I don't hear it very often.

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  • Benvenuto su Italian.SE! – Charo Sep 28 '18 at 5:07

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