My Italian Word of the Week - Sangue

Casa Editrice Nord (C)

Casa Editrice Nord (C)

Sangue (s.m.)

n. blood (anatomical)
n. fig. kinship, blood relation
n. fig. a state of being/disposition (ex. cold-blooded)
definitions ;


Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW

I picked sangue (n.m. blood) for this week's word in celebration of the fact that I just made my way through Il Profumo del Sangue (lit. The Scent of Blood), which is the Italian translation of Nalini Singh's Angel's Blood. If you don't already know, Nalini Singh is my favorite author, and, in my humble opinion, the Guild Hunter series is her best work. As such, I was psyched to find out three of her books had been translated to Italian. 

I began reading Il Profumo del Sangue by switching back and forth between the English and Italian versions. As my language skills improved, I went from page-to-page switches to chapter-to-chapter switches, and I eventually was able to eschew the English version all together. Given, I've read Angel's Blood more than half a dozen times (I tend to re-read the entire series whenever a new book comes out), so I know a lot of the scenes by heart. Nonetheless, I like to pat myself on the back whenever I can.

Some not so useful words I learned from this exercise include: un vampiro = a vampire; un succhiasangue = a bloodsucker; una cacciatrice dei vampiri = a vampire hunter (female); and Cacciatrice della Corporazione = Guild Hunter.

So I probably should get to the actual word of the week. Obviously, there's the anatomical use for the word sangue (blood), which is a singular masculine noun. On a related note, "to bleed" in Italian is sanguinare, which is a regular first conjugation verb. Similar to English, una banca di sangue is a blood bank, una trasfusione di sangue is a blood transfusion, and con parentela di sangue or di parentela di sangue is how one might indicate a blood relation. 

There are actually a lot of figurative uses of the word that corresponds perfectly to English. Sangue caldo (lit. hot blood) is used to describe someone who's hot-headed or impulsive, just as sangue freddo (lit. cold blood) is used to describe a cold-blooded (i.e. emotionless) person. Di sangue blu (lit. blue blood) is likewise used to describe someone with a aristocratic heritage, and di sangue misto or mezzo sangue (lit. mixed blood, half blood) indicates someone of mixed ethnic heritage (and no, it's not a polite thing to say in either language).

Far andare il sangue alla testa (lit. to make blood go to one's head) and sentirsi montare il sangue alla testa (lit. to feel blood climb to one's head) is pretty close to "to make someone blow a gasket" or "to blow a gasket," respectively (i.e. to make someone angry/to feel angry). Con calma a sangue freddo (with calm and cold blood) is something you might hear when someone is asking you to "calm down" or "keep your cool". Dulcis in fundo, one decidedly Italian idiomatic expression is Il vino fa buon sangue (lit. wine makes good blood), which is their equivalent of the English "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." I personally prefer the Italian version.

And since I must go in search of my bicchiere di vino (for health reasons, obviously), I'll end this 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