Italian Idioms starting with F

Other "Learn Italian" sections

Follow ItalyHeritage on Facebook:
Fare come l'asino di Buridano (= to behave like Buridanus' donkey (unable to decide)
It means to be unable to choose between two alternatives. It refers to the famous paradox attributed to philosopher Jean Buridan, according to whom a donkey, faced with two perfectly equal quantity of hay, being unable to decide, would die of starvation.

Fare di tutta l'erba un fascio (= make of all grass one sheaf)
The origin is uncertain and refers to farmers that realize that they could not unite all types of grass together. The expression indicates the attitude of those who, by treating a given topic, generalize too much, ignoring the differences (intentionally or unintentionally).

Fare fiasco (= make a flagon)
To fail blatantly, and in general a negative outcome. The saying has uncertain origins, although it exists also in French, English and German. It may derive from the ancient art of making glass: when a glassmaker, blowing on the hot compound to make a cylindrical vase, obtained a poor product, he went on blowing to inflate the middle and then covered it with straw. Others trace it to an episode in the career of Dominic Biancolelli, a comic actor of the 17th century, who used to perform in the role of Harlequin improvising, taking a cue from whatever. It is said that one evening he chose as an argument a fiasco, and he was booed.

Fare il diavolo a quattro (= to act like four devils)
It means having a raging reaction, and of derives from medieval representations that were called "big devilries", because there appeared four or more devils.

fare l'avvocato del diavolo (= to act as the devil's lawyer)
It means to defend the devil, which is normally considered evil and wrong, therefore indefensible. It means, basically, to see the same problem from another point of view, trying to ask patently impossible, inconsistent, senseless questions; this to the aim of understanding the problem better.

farla in barba a qualcuno (= do something under the beard of someone)
It means to cheat someone, such as to steal something almost under his eyes, that is, in front of his obviously metaphorical beard.

Franco tiratore (= franc-tireur)
An individual who does not follow the ways generally used by members of his group and, instead, adopts an autonomous, unpredictable behavior, often outside the limits imposed by the rules. The term originates from the military jargon and is a translation of the French franc- tireur.