My Italian Word of the Week - Quarantotto

Photo Credit: Flikr, Mark Hogan (C)

Photo Credit: Flikr, Mark Hogan (C)


adj. forty-eight
n.m. fig. a state of great confusion, bedlam, and/or pandemonium


Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW

Due to my Italian classe's recent focus on the congiuntivo (subjunctive mood–believe it or not, it's worse in English), my brain is un po stanco (a little tired)so I must keep this post short and sweet. 

Quarantotto literally means forty-eight. Yes, you guessed right: quaranta means fortyand otto means eight. Since we're on the subject of numbers, I probably should at least go over 1-10:

1-uno, 2-due, 3-tre, 4-quattro, 5-cinque, 6-sei, 7-sette, 8-otto, 9-nove, 10-dieci

So you're probably wondering why I picked 48 as my word of the week. Apparently, 1848 was a particularly unpleasant year in Italy. Secondo Wikipedia (According to Wikipedia, which is something I've said a surprising number of times lately), the period was marred by sconvolgimenti (mayhem) as a result of a series of revolts against Austrian control. 

The situation was so bad, in fact, that the word quarantotto became synonymous with a general state of confusion or bedlam. Depending on the situation, it is now also used to signify a "catastrophe". This expression would be appropriate, for example, when describing the current mess in Atlanta (seriously, folks–2 inches of snow should not a state of emergency make).

In context, one could say fare un quarantotto (to create mayhem), or è successo un quarantotto (great confusion occurred). And on that uplifting note, I'll end this week's post! 

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