Are there any Italian words which describe being arrogant as in wanting to do stuff or achieve something regarded as hard by others, with such word or words having a positive connotation?

For instance: ambizioso. Here is what the Devoto Oli has to say about it:

  1. Dominato dall'ambizione {so basically as though "possessed" by ambition: I read this as a negative connotation. And then the example:} pochi ambiziosi dichiareranno giustizia e pubblica necessità quello che non è se non capriccio e ambizione loro {so, as though by chance, the example also points out a negative attitude towards the (so-called) "ambiziosi", and then...}

  2. Che rivela un eccesso di ottimismo e presunzione (eg. progetto ambizioso).

What I am finding is that many, if not most, Italian words involving ambition as part of their dictionary definitions, end up having at least one quasi-neutral and one totally negative hue.

For instance, the saying "andarono come i pifferi di montagna" is an example of this: it is used to depict people who were too sure of their strengths {hence, arrogant}, and were subsequently defeated. This is just one example of how the Italian language always tends to view arrogance in a negative light.

Is it not so?



  • disinvolta fiducia in sé stesso e nella fortuna: la naturale baldanza dei giovani; anche, presunzione, spavalderia.
  • 2
    Something like "ambizioso"? Although it's indeed not postive, but neither negative and rather neutral, at least as per how I'd interpret it.
    – kos
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 13:44
  • I have amended my question. Thank you for your comment. Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 14:05
  • 1
    «This is just one example of how the Italian language always tends to view arrogance in a negative light.» Jack, this is the second question where you try to make this point. While it is a very interesting conjecture, I don't believe this is the place where it can be settled. Either some researcher in sociolinguistics has already tackled it, or it is difficult to solve it here, by more or less randomly sampling terms and idioms about “arrogance”.
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


While not commonly used (it's a bit of an high/formal/obsolete term), I'd say that the best word to use for your meaning would be "baldanzoso" (from the substantive "baldanza"). I can't really associate it with a negative perception of the term.

EDIT: As pointed out in the comment, a more commonly used term is "audace" (from "audacia"). It's also more generic: the "baldanza" is the "audacia" typical of the youth, while the latter is generic.

  • 3
    Nice one, and some of the synonyms offered by Treccani for baldanzoso might qualify too: «animoso, ardimentoso, ardito, audace, baldo, coraggioso, fiero, intrepido, risoluto, sicuro, temerario».
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 16:18
  • @DaG, thank you for pointing out these related words. I will look them up and learn them. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:12
  • Anyways, many of these words relate to the concept of risks involved. Sure, it's nice to think it can be done; sometimes, as age may teach us, a slightly different or better approach may help us; blessings to all whom can see clearly into the future! :-) Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:14
  • Well fair enough. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:15
  • And perhaps the opposite of "arrogant" ought to be "undecisive". Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:19

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