40: Colorful Italian Expressions – GREEN!

by | Jan 20, 2021 | Podcast | 0 comments

I love idioms, expressions and as you likely know, proverbs in Italian. These are the things that make learning Italian fun for me, and really literally and figuratively color the language. I am starting a new series here on the podcast where we chat about expressions relating to color. Today’s color is green, andiamo!

  1. Essere al verde | To be at the green

If someone says they’re ‘at the green’, in Italian that means they’re broke or out of money. There are several possible explanations for where ‘essere al verde’ comes from. It could be a reference to a middle ages custom of making bankrupt people wear green caps as a sign of ridicule. Alternatively, in RenaissanceFlorence, candles with a green bottom were used to time public auctions, so that when the time was up and all the money spent, you would be ‘at the green’.

La verde età | The green age

‘Green’ has connotations of freshness, so the ‘green age’ generally refers to youth. But be aware that it’s sometimes used in an ironic way, like saying  ‘alla verde età di 90’ meaning ‘at the ripe old age of 90!”

Far vedere i sorci verdi | To make someone see green mice

This idiom has an interesting background. In 1936, an Italian Royal Air Force squadron adopted three green mice as its emblem. Dictator Benito Mussolini bragged about these pilots and in fact this squadron took part in numerous bombing raids throughout world war 2.

After that, ‘I’ll make you see green mice’ became a way to warn someone you were about to crush them in a  humiliating defeat.

Avere il pollice verde – to have the green thumb

Just like in English, having a green thumb means you’re good with plants!

That’s it for now ragazzi! A presto!


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Ciao, I'm Rachel

I am obsessed with everything Italian! After years living in Italy, being married to an Italian, getting my Italian citezenship through my Pugliese lineage, a BA in Italian language and literature, then a MA in Italian Art History, I have lots of experience with this country! Hang out with me to learn more!