Translated by Alanna Quintyne

In today’s article called “What does Addirittura mean?”, I am going to talk about Addirittura, another of those strange words that are difficult to translate into the other language.

If you are curious to know more about it, keep reading! :)

How many Italian words lose something when they are translated?

Often, even if we try to explain them through roundabout expressions or with foreign words that are more or less similar in meaning, we feel that these terms lose all their expressive power and become flatter and less incisive.

Over the years I have already talked about some of these words that are difficult to translate into foreign languages, but today I would like to add another one that is used a lot by Italians: addirittura.

Even though in some Italian grammar manuals and books many meanings of addirittura are specified, I personally think that to explain this word it would be appropriate to highlight two uses only, the fundamental ones, which can actually encompass all the others:

  • addirittura used to express disbelief.
  • addirittura used to exaggerate something.

Let’s start from the first case providing, as always, some examples:

1. Addirittura used to express disbelief

Usually, when addirittura is used to express disbelief, it is used as an exclamation/question, i.e., it is pronounced with a particular emphasis that can express surprise or astonishment. Let’s take a look at an example:

    • Il romanzo “Va dove ti porta il cuore” è il migliore tra tutti quelli che ho letto. 
    • Addirittura?! 
      • The novel “Va dove ti porta il cuore” is the best of all the ones I’ve read.
      • Really?!


    • Sai che Luca è stato bocciato per l’ennesima volta all’esame di greco antico? 
    • Addirittura?! Pensavo che questa volta sapesse tutto. 
      • Do you know that Luca failed the ancient Greek exam for the umpteenth time?
      • Seriously?! I thought he knew everything this time.
    • Sono così stanco di lavorare, vorrei andare in pensione domani. 
    • Addirittura?! Non credi di esagerare un tantito? Forse hai solo bisogno di una pausa. = 
      • I’m so tired of working, I’d like to retire tomorrow.
      • Really?! Don’t you think you’re exaggerating a bit? Maybe you just need a break.

As you can see in the mini dialogues just presented the word addirittura is present all the time, but even if in all cases it expresses disbelief:

  • in the first case, it mostly indicates surprise,
  • in the second it shows disbelief mixed with frustration, and
  • in the third case, it expresses the will to downplay a situation perceived as a bit too heavy!

2. Addirittura used to exaggerate something

The word addirittura is also used to exaggerate something, not as a response or reaction to a statement made by someone else as in the previous case, but to highlight something strange, exceptional or something that goes beyond the norm.

In this case, addirittura is found within the sentence itself. Let’s look at some other phrases:

    • Non ci crederai mai ma mi ha detto che per lei studiare il latino è addirittura più semplice che studiare l’italiano!
      • You won’t believe it, but she told me that for her, studying Latin is even easier than studying Italian!
    • Faceva talmente freddo che ho indossato addirittura due pantaloni!
      • It was so cold that I even wore two pairs of pants!
    • Quando ha rotto con Paolo è scappata addirittura dall’altra parte del mondo pur di dimenticarlo.
      • When she broke up with Paolo, she even ran away to the other side of the world to forget about him.

From these sentences, therefore, it is clear that with this, addirittura intends to highlight an action that is not expected and that has a certain exceptionality.

What does addirittura mean in English?

You all know very well that it is always difficult to translate unique words that are typical of one language into others, but if I were to look for English terms that best translate addirittura, I would definitely say “really” to express disbelief and “even” to exaggerate the phrase.

Of course, I hope that this further explanation of addirittura will help you to better understand the meaning and the use of this term in Italian.

ila firma

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