Being Italian, I have always been using these English words. Only after coming to the Netherlands I discovered that they are reinvented by Italians. Here’s a top 12.



Footing. We know that the whole country is football mad. But… many young  and less young men and women are always announcing that they’re off to do a bit of “footing” themselves. In fact, “fare footing” has nothing to do with kicking a ball about. It simply means jogging : “Facciamo footing?” (“Shall we go jogging?”).




Mister. Let’s remain in the football theme… In English, “Mister” – or its abbreviated form “Mr” – is a formal title used to address a man. In Italian, the equivalent is “signore”. If you use “Mister”, you’re assumed to be referring to a sports coach.



Smoking. No, not puffing on cigarettes – though Italians do plenty of that. When they refer to a “smoking”, they mean what the English used to call a “smoking jacket” – now called a “tuxedo”. A Dutch guy told me that Dutchies also use the word “smoking” in the same way.



Baby parking. In case you’re wondering, it’s illegal in Italy for babies to park cars. A “baby parking” is simply a day care centre – typically in a mall or on a beach – where you can leave your child while you go off and do other things. Literally, it’s a place where you can “park” your child. In the Netherlands we have the Baby Dumps. But that a big warehouse where they sell baby stuff.



Basket. As a game, “basket” doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. So what is it – seeing who can toss their wicker basket the highest? Nope – it’s just the Italian abbreviation for “basketball”.


Nigh club

Night. The Italian for night is “notte” – so what do Italians mean when they say “night”? A “nightclub”, of course!

7. BOX


Box. Don’t panic! Like in the Holland, when an Italian suggests putting your child into a box, they are just suggesting that you pop them into a playpen. Just to confuse things, “box” also means garage.


sex shop

Sexy shop. Hmmm. Which shops do you find sexy? Weird question. In Italy, however, “sexy shops” are what English speakers would call sex shops. Sounds much nicer, actually.



Pressing. Pressing oranges? Trouser-pressing? In Italy, you’re most likely to find this word in the politics section of newspapers. “Fare pressing,” for instance, simply means to put pressure on someone. This usage is also common in football, where “pressing” is the tactic of trying to stay very close to the opposition when they’re in possession of the ball, thus putting pressure on the other team.


direct train

No-stop. An expats would be alarmed to hear that on New Year’s Eve there would be a “no-stop” service on the metro. Luckily, “no-stop” is sometimes used to mean “non-stop” in Italy, although you’ll find both spellings. Trains are very often delayed in Italy. So no-stop doesn’t mean that you will arrive in time.

11. SLIP


Slip. A “slip” is a loose-fitting under-garment, a short petticoat. Or what happens just before you fall. To Italians, a “slip” is either a man’s briefs or a woman’s knickers.



Toast. If someone offers you a toast in Italy it’s not just any old slice of toasted bread. It’s a toasted sandwich – what we might refer to in English as a “panini” which, by the way, is just the plural of sandwiches in Italian. Here in Holland we say a “tosti”, just to make it even more confused. Probably, whatever you say, a good bar man will understand you.


Photos: Shutterstock.



Publisher / Community / Marketing Manager at expatsHaarlem
Arianna was born in Rome, Italy and grew up mostly in Florence. When she was 18 years old she came to the Netherlands, where she remained till today. Arianna likes to make trips, discover Haarlem, taste good food, meet internationals and share experiences. Currently she is living with her hubby and 3 toddlers in one of the cutest little neighborhoods of Haarlem, de Vijfhoek.