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Another Look at Insomma

The useful but tricky filler word insomma crops up again in some recent episodes of Commissario Manara and L’oro di Scampia.

We discussed insomma in a previous lesson, but here it is again, so it’s worth looking at, since it is such a popular word with several different meanings. For more about insomma and other filler words, read What to Say While You’re Thinking of What to Say!


In this segment of L’oro di Scampia, Toni is off to the Olympics with his father. His mom wants to be encouraging:


Comunque vada avete già vinto.

However it goes, you've already won.

E insomma. -E perché?

Not really. -And why?

Perché, Teresa? Il secondo non se lo ricorda nessuno.

Why, Teresa? The runner-up isn't remembered by anyone.

Captions 27-29, L'oro di Scampia - film

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Toni's mom is being encouraging, but he and his father are being more realistic.

So in this case, insomma is negative, as if to say, “I don’t think so,” or even “yeah, right.” It’s a way of disagreeing without actually coming out and saying so. Raising one's eyebrows and shaking one's head slightly seem to be partnered with this one-word expression.


In the following example there’s another instance where insomma means something negative—without the speaker coming out and saying that something is terrible. In this week’s segment of Commissario Manara, Lara is asking Luca’s sister how she likes staying at Ada’s hotel.


Ah, a proposito, come ti trovi da Ada?

Ah, by the way, how is it over at Ada's?

Ma insomma...

Well, nothing special...

diciamo che mi sono adattata nella stanza di Luca, ma russa.

let's say I've adjusted to being in Luca's room, but he snores.

Captions 90-93, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo

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But sometimes insomma means something completely different: “in short,” “to sum up,” “in other words,” “all in all,” or “what I really mean to say is...” Manara is asking questions, but instead of listing all the possibilities, he says insomma, to put them all together, figuratively, to get right to the point.


Forse Lei può aiutarci.

Maybe you can help us.

Sa se aveva nemici... insomma, sa qualcosa?

Do you know if she had enemies... in short, do you know anything?

Captions 34-35, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo

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Insomma, (to conclude), we hope this helps you understand insomma a bit better!


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