Italian and English possess are surprisingly-large number of cognates. Italian words such as farmacia (pharmacy), intelligente (intelligent), and necessario (necessary) mean exactly what a native English speaker would expect them to mean. This shared linguistic history means that Italian language learners need to be extra wary of Falso Amico, or false friends.
In a previous lesson, we examined twelve such Italian words. Building on that lesson, here are another dozen Italian-English false friends.
Abusare means “to take advantage of” but does to suggest outright abusive behavior. Italian verbs equivalent to the English “to abuse” include insultare (insult, abuse) and maltrattare (abuse, maltreat).
Accomodare means “to arrange.” If you need to accommodate a person’s request or make living accommodations for him or her, use alloggiare.
In Italian, basket refers to the sport of basketball. There are several Italian words for different types of containers, such as cesto and cestino, but basket itself is not one of them.
Candido means “pure or innocent” and can also mean “snowy or white.” What candido cannot mean is “honest.” If you need to have a candid conversation with someone, use schietto.
The Italian divertire means “to entertain or amuse.” The correct verb for the English “to divert” is deviare.
Estate is the Italian word for “summer.” The Italian equivalent of the English word “estate” (in the sense of property or land) is proprietà.
Flipper is the Italian term for pinball or a pinball machine. Pinna is the correct word for the fin of a fish, a flipper/turner for cooking, or a paddle for rowing.
The Italian adjective grosso means “big.” To talk about something or someone being “gross,” use adjectives such as lordo (gross, filthy, dirty) or grossolano (coarse, gross, crass, earthy, dirty, lowbrow) depending on the exact meaning you wish to convey.
The Italian adjective lunatico means “moody” but does not imply that a person is a lunatic. Pazzo and folle are two commonly-used adjectives that describe a person as crazy or insane.
Morbido is an adjective meaning “soft or smooth.” The Italian equivalent of the English adjective “morbid” is morboso.
In Italian, ostrica means “oyster.” The Italian word for “ostrich” is struzzo.
Pavimento means “floor” in Italian. A sidewalk or the pavement of a driveway is il marciapiede.