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First, X happened, and then Y. On top of all this, now I have to do Z. Peggio di così!

In conversation with my friend, I just heard this unfamiliar phrase. I wonder if it is a short form of "Peggio di così si muore!". If so, is it common for native speakers to omit the last two words?

Also: In English, you can place various comparative adjectives in the expression "things couldn't be worse/better/easier". In Italian, do these expressions all take a form similar to "Peggio di così si muore!"?

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It's not necessarily a shortening of Peggio di così si muore, but more of a shortening of many expressions with more or less the same meaning, all starting with Peggio di così. A few examples:

Peggio di così non può andare

Peggio di così non si può stare

Peggio di così non è possibile

It is very common in the spoken language to just say the beginning of the sentence and to leave it to the listener to mentally add his/her favorite completion (the meaning will not change much anyway).

To address your edit, yes this expressions are the exact equivalent of the English Things couldn't be worse. For example in Italian you can say

Meglio di così non può andare (Things couldn't be better)

1

Locuzione avverbiale di uso comune. Da Treccani:

Comparativo dell’avverbio male, che quindi significa più male, in modo peggiore:

  • mi sento peggio; non poteva finire peggio di così.

You can see usage examples here in Google Books

  • 1
    Remember that the OP asked the question in English, so an answer in the same language is expected. – Charo May 23 '18 at 18:33

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