My Italian Word of the Week - Fuoco

Photo Credit: Flikr Creative Commons - Thomas's Pics' (C)

Photo Credit: Flikr Creative Commons - Thomas's Pics' (C)

Fuoco (n.m.)

n. fire, flame, blaze (the effect of a combustion)
n. a source of heat for cooking; a hearth
n. a blast or explosion from a firearm or explosive
n. fig. a sensation of ardor, heat, enthusiasm
n. tech. (in geometry) a focal point where two rays meet
definitions ;

Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW

It seemed logical to follow up mirare with fuoco, which literally translates to fire or flame.  I've run across it, along with calore (n. heat), quite a bit lately as I've decided to maintain my Italian via reading un romanzo rossa (a "pink" novel, aka Romance). In case you're wondering, said fuoco calore (fire and heat) were often located tra le cosce (between the thighs). Obviously, this use employs the figurative meaning of fuoco, which expresses enthusiasm or ardor (and not just in a romantic or sexual context). Just as il fuoco dell'amore can mean "the fire/ardor of love," il fuoco della fede can mean "the fire/ardor of faith."

We've already gone over un arma da fuoco (n. firearm) in my previous post, so you already know fuoco can mean a blast or explosion from a weapon. Aprire il fuoco translates to "open fire" and cessare il fuoco to "cease fire." Fare fuoco (lit. to "do" fire) is the synonym of sparare (v. to shoot at, to fire at). One cool derivative of this meaning is un gruppo di fuoco (n. pl. hired killers, gunmen). 

Since a lot of Italian life seems to revolve around food, fuoco also means a source of heat for cooking (n. hearth). For example, a stove top with 4 sources of heat is una cucina a quattro fuoco, and mettere sul fuoco  means "to put (something) on the stove or burner." This should not be confused with mettere a fuoco, which means to bring into focus or sharpen and is probably based on the geometric meaning of fuoco (n. focal point).

This brings us to some cool idiomatic expressions. Mettere troppa carne al fuoco (lit. to put too much meat on the fire) is equivalent to the English "to bite off more than one can chew." It's sort off related to C'e molta carne al fuoco (lit. there's a lot of meat on the fire), which is a close approximation of "there are plenty of fish in the sea" (i.e. lots of opportunities to take advantage of).

Una giornata di fuoco (lit. a day of fire) is equivalent to our "day from hell" (i.e. busy/hectic day). Since I do need to get on with some other chores, I'll leave off here. 

Ciao, tutti! Ci si vede il giovedì prossimo. (Good-bye all! See you again next Thursday.)

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my posts, please leave a comment.


Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at