In "Friends", Joey says a couple of times "va fa Napoli". I know now that it's a softer version of you-know-what, but how soft/rude is it?

Can it be used in the public? On a radio/TV? In a children show? Can I say it to a colleague as a joke?

A side question: is this expression widely understood at all?

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    Is something he says in the original? Or in the dubbed version? Or both? – DaG Feb 6 '18 at 12:50
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    In the original. – Russo Turisto Feb 6 '18 at 12:51
  • You can find the scene here – abarisone Feb 6 '18 at 12:52
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    To address the side question: this is the first time I hear about this particular expression, but it is immediately understandable, and there are scores of variants of vaffanculo, some probably invented on the spot: vaffallovo, vaffambene, vaffambagno and so on. – DaG Feb 6 '18 at 15:08
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    In Italy it would be understood but it doesn't exist in Italy, it's just obvious what the reference is but as an Italian in Italy I only ever heard it from Rachel in Friends. – SantiBailors Feb 9 '18 at 21:52

"Va fa Napoli" is not an Italian reference but a phrase that sounds like it and it sounds like vaffan... that is as rude as fu_k off.

If you say it in Italy we can understand what you mean but is quite ridiculous because it doesn't mean anything, it's an American stereotype if you prefer.

First time that I saw Friends in original version I laughed for it.

So if you use it to speak with other American people it could be rude because no one knows what it means, if you use it with Italians it's just ridiculous and meaningless.


My Italian-American grandparents would often use the phrase "va fa Napoli" (or sometimes shortened to "fa Napoli"). You can hear the expression used on The Sopranos and in the Academy Award winning movie Green Book. My grandparents were Napolitano and learned the Napoli dialect from their parents), but they grew up and lived in the Bronx. From what I understand "va fa Napoli" is more Italian-American slang, maybe more specific to New York Italians, from the boroughs, with roots in Naples dialect (which is why Joey on Friends would use it, or Tony Soprano, or Tony the Lip in Green Book). My Italian teacher, who was from Naples understood it, but said most Italian people don't use the expression. But my grandmother told me it meant "go to Naples" which was like saying "go to hell" because it's so hot down in Naples. I have no idea if this is true. But whatever the etymology, it's a negative expression but not vulgar, more akin to saying "get lost" than anything else... (certainly NOT "do it in the ass" as previously suggested.) There are so many Italian-AMERICAN expressions I picked up from my grandparents, most kinda vulgar, because they mostly spoke Italian in front of us to curse or insult someone. I've shared them with a Naples-native friend who understands these expressions perfectly, because they are still used, but often my pronunciation is slightly off--a product of the American influence and being diluted by generations who never learned to spell the words but could approximate the sounds of these expressions.

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    Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Sep 7 '19 at 19:18

According to Urban Dictionary, "va fa Napoli" is a more polite way of saying vaff****lo.

It's a more 'polite' way of saying vafanculo, the Italian obscenity meaning "go do it in your ass". Vafanapoli means literally "go to Naples", with the implication being that everyone in Naples does it in the ass.

It's a bit more polite way of saying you-know-what, similar to go to hell.

Obviously it can be used in an informal and colloquial context and, as the majority of imprecations, should be avoided in formal and public situations.

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    I know what it means :) I'm asking how rude this "more polite" version is. – Russo Turisto Feb 6 '18 at 12:52
  • @RussoTuristo Just edited – abarisone Feb 6 '18 at 12:53
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    @RussoTuristo Be warned that how "rude" or "polite" is depends on the familiarity of the audience. I personally never heard of it, and my reaction would be mostly confused. If you told me va' remengo, on the other hand... – Denis Nardin Feb 6 '18 at 14:24
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    @Russo Turisto / Yes, alternative versions are often used to sound less vulgar. Like vaffan’ brodo for your instance. Actually you may coin new ones, the “vaffan’” is the real term. – user519 Feb 6 '18 at 17:45
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    It's not more polite, it's less impolite. It makes a huge difference whether you say it impersonally vs. to someone. With Italians, don't direct it to people in situations where you don't intend to insult. The full meaning of the expression it is derived from, vaffanculo, is very specific and designed to be as insulting as possible, and any variation of it will still carry a good amount of that. – SantiBailors Feb 9 '18 at 21:41

Means "Go to Naples!" literally. There is another saying; "See Naples and die." Which means roughly that once you have seen Naples, you have seen everything; nothing else you see will ever measure up to that. However, If you consider BOTH of these sayings together, saying "va fa Napoli" to someone is saying "drop dead!" That more accurately sums up its real meaning and its use.

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    «Means "Go to Naples!" literally»: Actually it doesn't. – DaG Sep 10 '18 at 21:40

"va fa Napoli" exist in italian common language, but we wrote it "vaffannapoli" like "vaffanculo", in substance we use these two terms in the same way but "vaffannapoli" is not rude, it's like to say "fuck" and "damn".


The correct meaning is "get out of the way"...and go to do a walk in the city centre. It corresponds with the similar allocution "vai a farti benedire" ("go get yourself blessed") or "vaffanbagno" ("go to take a bath"), that's at a friendly or familiar level. The comparison with "vaffanculo" or "vai all'Inferno" ("go to Hell") is inappropriate (cause these two last phrases are at a different and heavy offensive level) and it actually is interpreted in this sense (by using this uncorrect meaning) by northern people, with the aim to mortify and offend Neapolitans and their city.

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    Welcome on ItalianSE! – abarisone May 20 '19 at 15:32

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