Planning a trip to the Eternal City? Immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of Rome by embracing the local dialect known as Romanesco! Embrace the essence of Roman culture as you familiarize yourself with these common Roman dialect words and phrases. By mastering this colorful language, you’ll effortlessly blend in and impress the locals on your next visit to Rome. Get ready to infuse your conversations with the authentic charm of Romanesco, ensuring an unforgettable experience in the heart of this timeless city. Following, is a curated list of the most commonly used terms and phrases every Roman knows and loves!
Tips and Tricks to learning Romanesco
- Articles such as un, uno and una lose the ‘u’ and become ‘n, ‘no and ‘na.
- When the letter ‘l’ is followed by a consonant, it’s pronounced ‘r’.
- Words that end in “gli”, “glio”, “glia” become “ji”, “jo”, “ja”
- Hai una penna? – C’hai na penna? – Do you have a pen?
- Si, lo voglio – Si, o’ vojo – Yes, I want it
- Ti voglio bene – Te vojo bene – I care for you/ I love you
- Che bello questo albero! – Che bello questo arbero! – This tree is beautiful!
Learn how to speak in “Romanesco”
1. Aò! – Hello
In informal social circles among friends, an iconic greeting emerges in Roman culture. Rather than using the traditional “ciao” to say hello, many Romans prefer to utilize “Aò” as an alternative greeting. This distinctive expression adds a touch of local charm to interactions among acquaintances.
2. Daje! – Come on!
This Roman expression serves as a call to action, equivalent to saying “come on.” It is employed when one is feeling annoyed or irritated with someone. In standard Italian, the equivalent would be “dai”.
3. Si nun è zuppa è pan bagnato
This Italian idiom is widely used throughout the country. In standard Italian, it is expressed as “se non è zuppa è pane bagnato,” which literally translates to “if it is not soup, it is soaked bread.” Romans employ this saying to convey the notion that, despite something being presented differently, its essence remains unchanged. In English, a similar expression would be “six of one, half a dozen of the other.”
4. Scialla – Calm Down!/ Chill!
This Roman saying is the English equivalent to ‘calm down’ , ‘relax’, or ‘ chill’. The standard Italian equivalent would be “tranquillo” (calm).
5. Avoja! – Sure!/ Hell Yeah!
This lively expression holds the same meaning as ‘sure’ or ‘hell yeah!’ in English. Derived from the standard Italian phrase ‘hai voglia’, this term showcases a distinctive feature of Roman slang, where the ending “glia” transforms into “ja”. While the letter “j” is not officially part of the Italian alphabet, it finds its place in various regional dialects throughout the country.
6. Ammazza! – Wow!
In its literal sense, this term translates to ‘kills’ or ‘slaughters’. However, when used in Rome, it takes on a whole new meaning, conveying a level of surprise comparable to the English term ‘wow!’. Fascinatingly, ‘ammazza’ can also be used to express disappointment, and the specific context of the conversation will indicate which sentiment is being conveyed.
7. Mica pizza e fichi – No small dead / No small feat
This expression holds a special place among my personal favorites. When translated literally, it reads as ‘not even pizza and figs’. Pizza and figs are well-known in Italy as two fundamental and readily available ingredients, both affordable and accessible. However, when the term ‘mica’ is added at the beginning, meaning ‘not’, it signifies that the task at hand is neither easy nor small in scale.
- “Hai finito la lasagna?” – “No, non ancora, mica pizza e fichi!”
- “Did you finish the lasagna?” – “No, it’s not a small feat!”
8. Tajarsi / Che tajo!’ / mi so’ tajato – To have fun
This particular term serves as a means of expressing the concept of ‘having a good time’. It can also be modified to ‘tajo’ to indicate something funny or amusing.
9. Aridaje – Again
In standard Italian, this term corresponds to “ancora,” which translates to “again”. It is utilized to express annoyance towards a repetitive situation. It’s as if you’re saying, “here we go again,” with a touch of sarcasm.
- “Ancora con questa storia” – “Aridaje co sta storia”
- “Again with this story” or, “Here we go again with this story”
10. Stai Manzo– Chill, relax, don’t worry
The literal translation of this expression offers a humorous twist. In English, “manzo” means “beef”. However, this saying doesn’t suggest telling someone to “stay beef”. Instead, “manzo” is considered a derivative of “mansueto”, which means “meek” or “gentle”. Over generations, Romans have adopted this expression to advise someone to “stay calm” or “just chill”.
11. ‘Na pennica – A nap
“Na pennica,” a cherished Roman term among fathers and grandfathers alike, refers to a delightful indulgence: “a nap”. Following a leisurely Sunday lunch with the family, when you are starting to feel a food coma (“abbiocco”), all you yearn for is to take “na pennica” – a brief and rejuvenating slumber.
12. Annamo / ‘Nnamo – Come on, let’s go
This widely-used term rivals the popularity of “ao” and “daje” in everyday conversations. Stemming from the Italian word “andiamo,” meaning “let’s go,” it has become a go-to expression to encourage someone or a group of people to begin or accelerate their movements.
13. Sto ‘na crema! – I’m fantastic
Although the word “crema” translates literally to “cream,” Romans have adopted it as an expression to convey a state of feeling fantastic. It serves as a colloquial way to communicate a sense of comfort, contentment, and overall well-being.
- “Hai Caldo?” – “No sto ‘na crema!”
- “Are you hot?” – “No, I’m fantastic!”
14. Mo s’è fatta ‘na certa – It’s quite late
When you find yourself out late on a Saturday night with your friends and you’re ready to head home, you might exclaim: “mo s’è fatta ‘na certa”. This Roman expression effectively communicates the notion that the hour has grown late, indicating that it’s quite late and time to call it a night.
15. Annamo bene! – Seriously?!
In standard Italian, this expression is “andiamo bene,” which translates to “we are going well.” However, it is meant to be said sarcastically, so it takes on a meaning similar to the English phrase “we’re off to a good start.” This sarcastic saying serves as an ironic way of expressing disbelief or exasperation, conveying a sense of “seriously?!” in response to a situation or statement.
16. Na cifra! – a lot
In standard Italian, this expression is “una cifra,” which directly translates to “a number.” However, it is commonly used to convey the idea of “a lot” or as a means to express a positive opinion about something or someone. The context of the conversation will provide clues to determine how the individual is utilizing this expression, allowing you to interpret its intended meaning.
- “Quanta carbonara vorresti?” – “‘Na cifra!“
- “How much carbonara would you like?” – “A lot”
- “Ti e piaciuto il dipinto?” – “Si, ‘na cifra bello”
- “Did you like the painting” – “Yes, it was very beautiful”
17. Nun fa ‘na piega
This term originates from the standard Italian phrase “non fare una piega,” which directly translates to “to not make a wrinkle” or “to not make a crease.” This expression refers to a person’s speech or argument that is flawless, that requires no corrections. It signifies a level of perfection in communication where everything is presented seamlessly, without any room for improvement.
18. Stai a rosicà?’ / rosicone – Jealous, envious
Romans employ this term to indicate feelings of jealousy. “Stai a rosica” serves as a direct question, asking someone if they are experiencing jealousy. On the other hand, “rosicone” refers to an individual who embodies the characteristics of jealousy.
19. Abbiocco – Food coma
When the desire to take “‘na pennica” (a nap) immediately follows a lengthy Sunday lunch, it is likely a result of experiencing a food coma known in Rome as “abbiocco”.
20. Anvedi! – Check this out!
When Romans encounter something unusual, remarkable, or extraordinary before their eyes, they express their surprise using this particular term. Beloved by many Romans and Italians well-versed in their dialect, this saying captures the essence of their astonishment and is cherished for its distinctiveness.
You are now ready to speak in Romanesco!
With this comprehensive list of the most popular Roman dialect terms and sayings, you are now ready to make use of them.
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