This phrase has appeared several times while I was looking up the word tondo.

  • Bello bello, chiaro chiaro e tondo tondo.
  • Pretty pretty, clear clear and round round?

Really? Or is it just a repetitive sentence that sounds nice in Italian to calm someone or some animal down?
Why would you say this? What would be its closest meaning? Are there other phrases like this that are commonly used? Is THIS a commonly used phrase? enter image description here

Okay - I have been looking further... I am also finding the phrase chiaro e tondo which seems to mean clear and simple, or bluntly or pure and simple. Could it be that the original phrase is just "verbal filler"?

  • 1
    Exactly where has this phrase appeared? The standard expression is chiaro e tondo, which means very clearly, unambiguously
    – Denis Nardin
    Feb 6, 2016 at 14:50
  • @DenisNardin I was looking up the words "tono tondo" which is in a pronunciation booklet I have. (Pimsleur) I was not able to find a definition for tono tondo - sometimes I think they are just using random words together, just to get you to sight read them phonetically in your brain. I did not find any translations for this - and as a final stab at it, I tried a search on context.reverso.net, which sometimes helps me, since there are so many 'translations' - I use this term advisedly - that sometimes the meaning becomes clear to me through sheer repetition and variety.
    – Msfolly
    Feb 6, 2016 at 15:06
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    @Msfolly In tono tondo: sometimes some words are put together just to get you used to speak in a certain way, a bit like tongue twisters are used when teaching a language. If I got which one youre talking about I believe in Pimsleur you would have also found things like "lama malato" o "il cuoco d'uovo"... some make sense others are a bit more of a stretch lets say. It should be an exercise geared more towards pronunciation than meaning. Feb 8, 2016 at 14:39
  • @Erik vanDoren - You have it in one, as we say... The tapes themselves are great, but I would kill for a transcript, and in the case of the reading exercises, a translation. I spend a LOT of time looking things up, because I can not bring myself to leave my questions unanswered. On the other hand, I tell myself that learning is learning, however I do it... It has been leading me down some very strange paths.
    – Msfolly
    Feb 8, 2016 at 15:59
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    @Msfolly, transcripts and translations of those tapes do exist, sometimes automated so not completely reliable, but it would ruin the learning process if you had them. All the other work wont be wasted and everything will come together nicely. Feb 8, 2016 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


Given the clarification in the comments, I am quite confident that this is simply a case of repetition for emphasis. The sentence in question is

Questo è il fatto... bello bello, chiaro chiaro e tondo tondo. Mio padre mi insegnò che è obbligo dare soccorso a mare

(Incidentally this sentence sounds a bit weird. It's not wrong but I would not consider it an example of "good Italian". Apparently it comes from some subtitle but I was unable to track down the movie in question. I have to assume that there is some visual context that explains it)

My interpretation is that it is a modification of the following

Questo è il fatto... Bello, chiaro e tondo

That we can roughly translate as

This is the long and short of it, without any possible ambiguity

(From chiaro e tondo, which means plainly, without mincing words, unambiguously, with an added bello for emphasis)

The speaker however repeats all the words in the expression twice in order to add further emphasis. This is not something I would commonly use. However the expression chiaro e tondo is quite common (ex: Te lo dico chiaro e tondo, I'm telling you plainly).

Just to add to your initial motivation for looking up this word: tono tondo is not a common Italian turn of phrase either. I can imagine using it to discuss some singer or musician (as in Her voice has a beautiful, round, tone in that passage) but that's about it, and even this is fairly uncommon.

  • Wow. This is exactly what I was looking for. Especially, since, from the context in my comments you also found for me the meaning of the original phrase, which set me looking for explanations originally! I had not found "tono" anywhere! It seems that every time I try to clarify one thing, I learn and/or encounter 6 other things...
    – Msfolly
    Feb 6, 2016 at 15:55
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    @Msfolly May I suggest that when you do not know a word you look it up on a dictionary? There are several good ones freely available online (both monolingual and English to Italian). For example dizionari.corriere.it/dizionario_italiano/T/tono.shtml, wordreference.com/iten/tono.
    – Denis Nardin
    Feb 6, 2016 at 15:57
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    @Msfolly: Apparently, this “dictionary function” is not much of a dictionary, if it doesn't include a normal word such as tono. :-)
    – DaG
    Feb 6, 2016 at 16:51
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    It's from Terraferma (2011) by Emanuele Crialese, Italy's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscar 2012. Here's the phrase in question on Youtube.
    – I.M.
    Feb 7, 2016 at 14:39
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    @Msfolly Don't worry about that. I am a native speaker and I cannot quite make out the words.. It is a very regional variant of Italian, and there are more than a few dialectal expressions in there.
    – Denis Nardin
    Feb 8, 2016 at 16:19

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