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March 19, 2015

English Words of Italian Origin

www.tuscanmuse.com-15As a student trying to learn the Italian language, it is fun for me to learn Italian words that crept into our everyday use of the English language. Typically, if there is a story behind the word, I am better able to recall the word itself and its meaning. Here are a few of my favorites:

The word “piano” is a shortened form of pianoforte, the Italian word for the musical instrument. The musical terms “piano” and “forte” in Italian mean "quiet" and "loud", respectively. Bravo in Italy can only be used properly when said to one man. To a woman, you must say, brava! To a group of people, you would say bravi!


Fiasco is an Italian word referring to a glass bottle or flask with a long neck. According to the Oxford English dictionary “fiasco”, meaning a failure or complete breakdown, comes from the Italian expression “fare fiasco”, to make a bottle. Nobody knows how this Italian expression came to be in the English language. Today, old trattorie are still called fiaschetteria which are working men's taverns. These taverns were known for their hearty, cheap Tuscan wines and later for their more homey Tuscan food specialties that paired with the wines.

The following English words are just a few of the many that are of Italian origin:

Coffee, macaroni, broccoli, algebra, caliber, lava, lagoon, influenza, balcony, alarm, novel, replica, casino, zero, pedal, magazine, finale, balloon, bankrupt, alert, sonnet, cartoon, façade, bronze, ballot and of course, pizza!

Learning to speak Italian is challenging, but fun. When I’ve studied long enough for one session, to avoid a fiasco, I find a good glass of Brunello to be quite the reward!

Join us for a tour of Tuscany or a workshop in Tuscany and experience the joys of the Italian language with us!

  • Our stay at Le Casacce will always be a glorious memory. By the time the trip was over, we already missed our new friend, Linda. We came home filled with tales of the sights we had seen, the excellent food we had eaten and the good times made possible by Tuscan Muse
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