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I can't find much information about this expression. Obviously the meaning is clear (being lazy), but I was wondering about its origin. I just found some unconvincing sources on yahoo answers, but nothing more. Anyone knows something about it?

  • This is a difficult one! – Roberto Dec 17 '13 at 20:31
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Here is a relevant, reliable source: http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/perch-fiacca-si-batte .

It's military jargon, like "battere la carica", "battere la ritirata", etc., and it originated in Piedmont at the end of the nineteenth century.

"Fiacca" means "stanchezza", "spossatezza", "lack of energy". It comes from "fiacco", and this from Latin "flaccus-a-um", meaning "stanco" (here and here).

So, "battere la fiacca" means "being strenuously committed to … let laziness/idleness/indolence/tiredness prevail" (the contrary of a military attack).

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  • Thanks, very interesting. I still don't get the ethymology of the word "fiacca", which, as far as I can understand, seems to be a sort of military drum? – Lorenzo Marcon Dec 18 '13 at 9:17
  • @LorenzoMarcon fiacca comes from the Latin flaccus, see here etimo.it/?term=fiacco – martina Dec 18 '13 at 11:33
  • thanks, it all seemed weird because I didn't get at first the figurative meaning, and I tought that "fiacca" was something physical used in the past. With the updates to the answer, everything is clearer :) – Lorenzo Marcon Dec 18 '13 at 12:12

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