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Expressing Urgency with Scappare

Scappare (to escape) is a word Italians seem to love. Its primary meaning is “to escape.”


Per fortuna però, c'era il mio amico commilitone Ernesto

Luckily, however, there was my friend and fellow soldier Ernesto,

che mi ha aiutato a scappare.

who helped me to escape.

Captions 22-23, Anna e Marika - in La Gazza Ladra

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Escaping is not necessarily a daily occurrence for most of us, but nonetheless, Italians often fit this verb into the conversation. More often than not, there’s a sense of urgency.


Certainly Dixi’s situation in this video is commonplace, especially if you are touring around some Italian city and drinking plenty of water.

A very informal way to express this bisognino (little need) among friends or family is, as Dixi says:


Mi scappa la pipì! Che dire? Succede a tutti.

"I urgently need to go!" What can you say, it happens to everyone.

Captions 6-7, Dixieland - La magia di Tribo

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But Italians also use the verb scappare when they’re in a rush, or have to leave.


Devo scappare.
I’ve got to go.


It doesn’t mean they’re trying to escape from a bad situation, but rather that they have to be somewhere. In the following example, Lara is simply telling her aunt that she’s leaving (for work). It’s part of saying goodbye.


Scappo zia!

Aunt, I'm off!

-Eh? Sì va beh, ciao, ciao.

-Huh? Yes, OK, bye, bye.

Captions 52-53, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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Sometimes you say or do something you didn’t intend to. It slips out. This is another use of scappare, which in this case is a synonym for sfuggire (to escape, to run away).


Non volevo dirlo, ma mi è scappato.
I didn’t want to say it, but it slipped out.


La scappata is the noun form, and is used to mean "a quick trip," "a dash to somewhere," or "a run for it."


Faccio una scappata, tempo di un caffè, e torno subito.
I’ll dash out, time enough to have coffee, and I’ll be right back.


Non scappare (don’t go away)! We’ll be back with more Italian lessons!



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