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