Vaffanculo and not only – 3 ways to express your anger in Italian

*** WARNING: This article contains coarse language. It is NOT intended to offend anyone so just don’t read it if you don’t like coarse language. ***

After having handpicked 5 beautiful words, the time has come to explore some more colloquial expressions. When you learn a new language, you should be able to state your emotions, whatever they are. Italian is such an expressive language, not only to manifest your wonder but also to give vent to your anger.

So, if you are pissed off and want to take advantage of the Italian expressiveness, here are some handy phrases.

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Vaffanculo

It is the contraction of the sentence vai a fare in culo (literally meaning “go and practice anal sex” and interpreted as a rude way of saying “go away”). Its origin dates back to the Roman times, where passive sodomy was regarded in a derogative way. Vito Tartamella notices how the success of this word might be also related to the sound of the fricatives in this word (/f/ and /v/) and points out that also its English equivalent, “fuck off” has the same fricative consonant.

To see it in practice, watch this famous clip from the film Tre uomini e una gamba. If you want to fuck someone off in a less rude way, you can say Vai a quel paese! For an edulcorated explanation of this expression, watch this video (in Italian).

Non rompermi i coglioni

This is my absolute favourite. It literally translates in “don’t break my balls” and it is roughly the equivalent of “don’t bother me”, used when someone is giving you a hard time. There are some variants such as non rompermi le palle or non rompermi i maroni (this last one in Northern Italy). The difference lies in the way you refer to testicles, but the meaning is the same.

You can see this expression directly translated in English by the Italian-American fictional character Tony Soprano:

« Dr. Jennifer Melfi: What’s the one thing, every woman, your mother, your wife, your daughter, have in common?

Tony Soprano: They all break my balls. »

Fatti i cazzi tuoi

It is used to say “mind your own business”; the word used to substitute “business” is “cazzo”, i.e. the vulgar term for penis. A less vulgar way to express the same concept is fatti gli affari tuoi.

On a side note, “cazzo!” in Italian is used in interjections a bit like “fuck!” or “damn!” in English. It is also used as an intensifier, for example you can say Che cazzo fai? meaning “What the fuck are you doing?”.

What Italian expression do you use when you are pissed off?

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