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Galeotto fu il libro
(gah-lee-OH-toe foo eel LEE-bro)
The act of matchmaking two people together. It comes from the idea that if you give a book to a guy to give to a girl, she’ll be interested in him and they’ll fall in love.
Promettere mari e monti
(pro-MET-er-eh mar-ee eh MOHN-tee)
Literally it means to promise the seas and mountains, but it figuratively means to promise someone everything. You could say Non mi prometti mari e monti or Mi ha promesso mari e monti.
Non mi chiedere la luna
(non me key-ed-ER-eh la LOO-nah)
Don’t ask me for the moon. It’s on the same vein as the previous phrase.
Andare a monte
(ahn-DAR-eh a MOHN-teh)
This literally means to go to the mountains, but it figuratively means that everything went poorly to the point of cancellation making it similar to the verb disdire – to annul or to cancel
Un viaggio va a monte.
Il matrimonio è andato a monte.
Ne ho fin sopra i capelli
(neh oh feen SO-prah ee kah-PELL-ee)
This one sounds like something we would say in English and means I’ve had it up to here, like when you’re threatening someone that you’ve had enough of their BS. It literally means I have it up to my hair.
Capitare su un osso duro
(cap-ee-TAR-eh sue oon OH-so DER-oh)
This one means that you’re understanding how a person is. A person who is un osso duro is a stubborn person who is also slightly stupid. You would use this in a negative sense. Italians also do this cute thing where they tap their fist on the table when describing an osso duro. You could also describe someone as being un tipo tosto and mean the same thing.
Dare del filo da torcere
(DAR-eh del FEE-low da tor-CHEH-reh)
When you think of this phrase, think of the children who get to the ‘Why’ stage in their lives. You answer a question and they ask why and you answer a question and they ask why. A neverending cycle. They’re never satisfied with their answers. You could tell your friend that this is happening with your daughter by saying:
Mia figlia mi dà del filo da torcere
Mio figlio mi ha dato del filo da torcere.
It could also be in a positive sense like describing the child as very curious and therefore intelligent.
Essere in alto mare
(ESS-er-eh een AHL-toe MAR-eh)
According to my Italki teacher Giulia, this phrase is very used, and I could imagine Americans saying it a lot when they’ve procrastinated and are behind on projects/schoolwork. It literally means that you are in high water and very far from the coast. It figuratively means that you have a long way.
Non riesco fare i compiti per domani. Sono in alto mare.
Use one of these phrases in conversation today, even if you have to talk to yourself.