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What is the origin of the expression 'un ficosecco' meaning something of very little importance or very little value?

Ficosecco:

  • fico seccato al sole o nel forno

  • un ficosecco, (fam.) nulla: non capisce un ficosecco |fare le nozze coi fichisecchi, fare con pochi mezzi ciò che richiederebbe una spesa molto maggiore.

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    Curiosa la grafia unita: io l'ho sempre visto staccato (“fico secco”), come riporta anche il Treccani. – DaG Mar 16 '15 at 21:32
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    Lungi dall'essere una risposta, ma ho trovato questo: forum.corriere.it/scioglilingua/23-04-2010/… – laureapresa Mar 16 '15 at 21:41
  • What do you mean by origin? I mean, it's an expression derived from the intrinsic properties of that fruit and thus seems implicit to me; unless you mean something else that you may want to clarify. – edmz Mar 22 '15 at 11:50
  • @black - a lot of things may have the valueless connotation of a ficosecco. So why just this expression became popular? – user519 Mar 22 '15 at 11:59
  • @Josh61 That's arguable then. But you need to rephrase your question since you're asking two different things, in my view. – edmz Mar 22 '15 at 12:08
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I think the main reason why some sayings use the 'fico secco' or 'ficosecco' words to indicate valuelessness is that the fig plant is an endemic and fast growing plant. It is not unlikely (it was more common in the past, though) to find this plant in the countryside, in nobody's land, carrying abundant harvest withering on the plant with nobody caring to harvest them.

The fig tree is diffused in temperate and warm climates, in Italy and in many other regions, yet robust enough to stand freezing winters. It needs little water and prefers calcareous and poor soils. Contrary to most fruit plants in the Mediterranean area, it is not grafted, and does not require any care to bear plenty of fruits. If you want to have your own fig tree, you do not buy seeds or a small plant to grow, just throw a couple of fig fruits in the ground (nearby a plot surrounding wall for example, as it prefers calcareous soils) to have a fruit bearing tree in just a few years.

There might be other, may be less important but supporting, reasons. One could be that although the dry fig fruits you buy are nice looking (and somewhat expensive), when on the tree they look withered and wrinkled, giving a feeling of somethind passed-away and disposable. A second might be that the 'c' (k) and 'cc' sequence in the two words give it a rather sharp pronunciation, a pretty distinctive feature in the Italian language.

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