Bomba d’acqua! Italian media and new words.

Italian media and social networks are changing our language very rapidly. Here’s a small collection of “neologismi”, new words that are now of common use in spoken and written Italian.

I decided to write this post because it’s raining a lot in Italy. My country is facing difficult times because of terrible weather conditions. Rivers are overflowing and many big cities like Milan and Genoa are under water. Again.

Last time I checked, the Italian word for describing a “heavy and sudden rainfall” was nubifragio, but apparently it was not enough clear or aggressive, according to Italian journalists and social media trend-setters. The buzzword now is bomba d’acqua, “water-bomb”.

I am not fond of this neologismo but that’s a good example of how new words are making other Italian terms obsolete with a simple #hashtag. Other neologismi are really entertaining and fun. I chose a few of them. Italian media, and social media in particular, have the tendency to talk about negative events and behaviors, so It’s not my fault, don’t shoot the messenger!

I hope my poor English will be appropriate for translating some poor Italian.


Another neologismo related to weather. Afa means muggy weather and sometimes it’s fatal to senior Italian citizens during summertime. Of course media like to put a label on things, so a heat wave, which comes every year, becomes an unexpected killer heat wave.


The prefix “baby” in Italian media means “premature” rather than baby. So, baby-pensionati are people retiring in their 50’s, a baby-soldato is a child soldier, baby-inventore a creative teenager and so on.


This is a very popular new entry. Although pretty vulgar, it’s a viral word in social media and among young people. I can’t really translate it literally, not because I don’t want to, but because it wouldn’t make much sense. It means “stupid childish sucker”. No offense!


20 years ago all the main Italian political parties were involved in a big scandal. Bribery (“tangenti” in Italian), blackmailing, waste of public money, mafia, suicides, politicians fleeing the country. That period went under the name of Tangentopoli , “the city of bribery”. In 2006 there was a similar outrageous scandal with football (calcio) and Calciopoli is now the term for describing corruption in football. Since football and corruption are both popular sources of entertainment, you will hear this one for sure.


Again, football… DASPO is an acronym (Divieto di Accedere alle manifestazioni SPOrtive): ban from any sports events, against hooligans and violence in sports. Now, the media use daspo for any sort of ban involving violence or other felonies.  


It doesn’t mean “clean Mafia” but criminal activities related to environmental crimes, like dumping toxic wastes where it is forbidden and so on.


“Non fare un c….” means “do nothing”. Mind, it’s a bad word. Fancazzista is used ironically against someone “specialized in doing nothing”. I included it in the list because this word is as widespread as people who deserve it.


“Il Gattopardo” is a classic Italian novel about the decadence of the Sicilian aristocracy, desperate to survive and keep privileges during the Italian revolution in 1860.  The spirit of the adjective gattopardesco is in this sentence “Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi” if we want to keep everything as it is, we need to change everything. Act as if you want to change but don’t. Typical  Sicilian and Italian apparent contradiction.


Italianization of the English “hacked” used in the world of internet and computers.


This word comes from the Neapolitan dialect but it’s now pretty common everywhere. It means “to conspire under one’s breath”, making agreements under the table.


Eat-eat! When powerful people “eat without paying the bill”, or take advantage of their power for stealing money.

OGM (ogiemme)

Organismo Geneticamente Modificato -> GMO in English


Italianization of “high performing”


Same as in English. It’s used ironically against upper class radical leftists and liberals, philanthropists, philosophers talking about “poor people’s needs”, while they eat caviar at exclusive cocktail parties. Right or wrong, you can hear this analogy every day on Italian TV. I usually change channel…

If you watch Italian TV or read popular Italian facebook pages every day, you will hear and read a lot of those words. I prefer to read books, where I still can find nice and familiar words like nubifragio. Thanks for reading! 

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Milanese, graduated in Italian literature a long time ago, I began teaching Italian online in Japan back in 2003. I usually spend winter in Tokyo and go back to Italy when the cherry blossoms shed their petals. I do not use social media.

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9 years ago

I’d love to see a post about “popular Italian Facebook pages” so I can follow a few interesting ones. What are your favourites?

Reply to  Vogatrice
9 years ago

Ciao Vogatrice, thanks for your comment. To be honest, I don’t see Facebook as a good way to study Italian. For English speakers however, I can recommend “La Bella Lingua”, a clean and interesting FB group created by Dianne Hales Ciao!

Don`t copy text!