I heard a few times the use of the suffix -issimo/issima with substantives and couldn't find an immediate appropriate translation, so I thought it must be metaphorical way of speaking. I don't remember many examples, but recently I stumbled upon the in gambissima expression. Is it grammatically correct to attach the suffix to substantives in some cases? Are there any other examples of this practice?

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    As far as I can tell, I informal speech you can even say in gambissimissima, but in more formal contexts avoid it. Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 21:21
  • @KyriakosKyritsis Yes, ... if you are 6 years old. Older than that using issimissima sounds really awkward. If you want to sound "funny" you could also say in gamberrima which will have exactly the same effect.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


In the past we had il campionissimo, that is, Fausto Coppi. He was so good in cycling that calling him campione was too reductive. Probably the term was coined under the influence of il generalissimo Franco (taken from Spanish, of course).

Such a usage of the superlative with nouns rather than adjectives has its roots in sport journalism, where people is often in search for astonishing words.

The phrase in gambissima is a joke for saying that someone is in gamba, that is, in good health (or, by extension, good in something) at a very high grade. So it is the superlative of an an adverb, which is not so uncommon, actually, for instance benissimo and malissimo.

Thus sta benissimo can become è in gambissima.

  • So it's correct to use "il campionissimo" and such astonishing words?
    – symbiotech
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 21:45
  • @symbiotech Yes, it is. Abuse is dangerous, of course.
    – egreg
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 21:51
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    @symbiotech: In linguistic matters, it is dubious what “is this correct” means. Grammars and dictionaries register actual use, when it has spread among a population of speakers of a languages. You might say that the whole Italian Vulgar is a very incorrect Latin (with declensions and conjugations all amiss), or you might say - as one usually does - that it is an entirely new linguistic phenomenon. On a different scale, the same holds for single constructions, words and suffixes like your “-issimo”. So: what do you mean by “correct”?
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 14:07

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