Questions tagged [etymology]

Questions about etymology, i.e. the origin and history of a word. Use this tag for questions regarding the origin of single words. If your question is about the origin and history of a phrase, an idiom or a proverb, please use the tag "phrase-origin".

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8
votes
3answers
6k views

Origin and meaning of the saying “Donna barbuta, sempre piaciuta”

Does anyone have a clue about the origin of the saying: "Donna barbuta, sempre piaciuta" and what its real meaning is?
13
votes
0answers
2k views

Italian number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction [duplicate]

Let's count in Latin from one to twenty: ūnus/ūna/ūnum, duo/duae/duo, trēs/tria, quattuor, quīnque, sex, septem, octō, novem, decem, ūndecim, duodecim, tredecim, quattuordecim, quīndecim, sēdecim, ...
7
votes
1answer
435 views

Where does the expression “battere la fiacca” come from?

I can't find much information about this expression. Obviously the meaning is clear (being lazy), but I was wondering about its origin. I just found some unconvincing sources on yahoo answers, but ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How was the expression 'rompere le scatole' born?

As a foreigner I have always found the expression 'rompere le scatole' to be very funny. I know its meaning and I was wondering where it comes from.
14
votes
8answers
4k views

Is using “assai” in Italian considered vulgar language?

My conversation manual included the word assai very often as an equivalent for troppo, molto, etc. When I got in Italy one of my friends from there, of Neapolitan origin, said that is a Neapolitan ...
7
votes
2answers
231 views

What's the origin of the “-mente” postfix? Is it connected to the “mente” substantive?

What's the origin of the rule that composes the adverbial forms finishing in -mente (e.g. velocemente, normalmente, assolutamente, diversamente etc). Is it somehow connected to mente (Latin mens, ...
7
votes
2answers
523 views

How come there are two gender forms, “tavola” and “tavolo”? Which one is proper?

I noticed that in Italian usually there is only one gender for one word, but there are some exceptions I thought were because of "bad native speakers". One of this exception is "tavolo" / "tavola". ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Does “sfiga” come etymologically from “figa”?

It is somehow a common rule in Italian to find many verbs negated with the s- prefix (e.g. smonta, sparecchia, sposta). Does sfiga ("bad luck, misfortune") etymologically come from figa (vagina) or ...
5
votes
1answer
649 views

Perché il suffisso '-accia/-accio' connota negativamente le parole cui viene aggiunto?

Credo che il suffisso -accia / -accio sia usato sempre per connotare negativamente qualcosa, per esempio: roba e robaccia, parola e parolaccia, donna e donnaccia e così via. Sapreste indicare quali ...
9
votes
8answers
8k views

Origini ed etimologia della particella 'nee' alla fine di frasi in dialetti del Nord Italia

Soprattutto nel nord-ovest sento spesso usare 'nee' alla fine di talune asserzioni, per esempio: 'Non chiederlo ancora, nee.' 'Prendi il libro, nee.' 'Sono stanco ora, nee.' Sapreste dirmi ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Origine e diffusione dell'espressione “dare un colpo di telefono”

Girando per l'Italia ho sentito dire "dagli un colpo di telefono". Sapreste dire se tale espressione è piuttosto comune o meno? O se, diversamente, viene intesa nel suo significato letterale "...
8
votes
1answer
888 views

Etymology of “non capisce un'acca”

Where does the phrase "non capiscono un'acca" (meaning "they are stupid") come from? I understand that "acca" may mean the letter "H", but I am not sure why not "understanding" it may be symptom of ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Usage of prepositions “a” and “in” in statements about places and directions

The use of prepositions, showing direction and answering the questions "Dove?" and "Verso dove?", is usually explained with very few rules, such as a with the names of cities, in with the names of ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

origine dell'espressione “di punto in bianco”

Sono un'insegnante di inglese e spesso mi sento rivolgere dai miei studenti la domanda di come possono rendere delle espressioni italiane in inglese, mantenendo il significato originale. Per questa ...

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