In English Language and Usage there is an interesting question about immature adults.

Some of the terms that might fit in Italian, with different nuances of course, are "bamboccione" from the famous neologism introduced by Tommaso Padoa Schioppa, "vitellone" (from F. Fellini's movie) and "mammone" (mama's big boy).

It seems that these terms are synonyms or at least hyponyms of "immature (adult)"; they have been used more frequently in different periods of time, but essentially with the similar, very close meaning of immature adult person (usually a man) who will not grow up, a bit of a slacker, lacking any ambition or autonomy, even "un fannullone" and/or "un buono a nulla".

Are there other synonyms/hyponyms of "immature (adult)" that have been famous for a little while and then discontinued/replaced?

2 Answers 2


Bamboccione is derived from bamboccio, which in this case means an adult that behaves like a child or that has no willpower or character (see http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/bamboccio/).

Mammone is somebody who's very attached to his/her mother (see http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/mammone1/).

Vitellone refers to young, idle and lazy persons without ambitions or hopes who spend their time in entertainments (see http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/vitellone/).

So, no, they aren't synonyms. They certainly refer to immature adults, but with different perspectives.

  • If, as you acknowledge, they mean "immature adult" with different perspectives, with different nuances, then they are synonyms. They are certainly not perfectly interchangeable synonyms of course, but that was already clear. "Mammone" is a person who cannot live without mummy's reassurance and protection, it is normally used for someone who is unable to make important decisions in their life or does not intend to leave their mother's house due to a lack of autonomy (so it is not just being attached to their mother).
    – user193
    May 14, 2014 at 10:22
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    @randomatlabuser I said “different perspective”, not “nuances”. Also vitello, vitellone, manzo, bue refer to the same animal species, but they aren't synonyms, are they?
    – egreg
    May 14, 2014 at 10:27
  • Right and left are opposite notions, I'm not sure it is the best example in this case. Consider "guardare" and "vedere": they are clearly different actions, but they are still regarded as synonyms in the dictionaries although they are certainly not perfectly interchangeable.
    – user193
    May 14, 2014 at 10:32
  • @randomatlabuser I changed the example.
    – egreg
    May 14, 2014 at 10:33
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    I think we can agree that "bamboccione", "vitellone" and "mammone" are at least hyponyms of "immature (adult)", if not synonyms. I have edited the question accordingly.
    – user193
    May 14, 2014 at 14:08

I found in an old synonyms dictionary (Nuovo dizionario dei sinonimi della lingua italiana, Volume 1 by Niccolò Tommaseo, 1838) that in that period the word Bamboccione used to be a synonym of the word Fantoccione. Now it is no longer so, but it is interesting what I found there:


Quando fantocio s'usi nel senso più ovvio, cioè figurina fatta per lo più di legno o di cencio, il suo accrescitivo non ha molta affinità a bamboccione. Ma quando fantoccio significa o sciocco o uomo di goffa struttura, allora il suo accrescitivo diventa sinonimo all'altro, con queste due differenze.

I°. Che, nel fantoccione, preso in senso di persona goffa, supponesi mole d'ordinario maggiore. Non è già che fantoccione non si chiami anco un bambino ben grosso: ma se dirò bamboccione, non penserò tanto alla mole quanto alla forma badiale di lui.

II°. Che preso in senso d'uom grossolano od inetto, il bamboccione par che sia più inesperto; il fantoccione più triviale. Il bamboccione regge un poco alla celia; il fantoccione è più duro. Difficile imaginare un bamboccione senza un bel visone lustro; nè il fantoccione senza una forte ossatura, anche secco ch' e' sia.

So Fantoccione used to be an harsher, coarser and vulgar person, while the term Bamboccione used to indicate a more childish, pranking person.

  • 1
    I am not sure this answers the question, but it is quite interesting how certain words become "obsolete" for long time and then suddenly fashionable with new meanings and colour - apparently this is the case of "bamboccione" (which does not seem to be a neologism after all …).
    – user193
    May 15, 2014 at 0:49

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