Let's look at a false friend. Not always false, but frequently.
When something bad happens, like an accident, or a natural disaster, one word Italians commonly use is una disgrazia. È successa una disgrazia (something bad happened/there's been an accident).
Domani, me [mi] capiterà 'na [una] disgrazia. -Che disgrazia? -Qualcosa de [di] male. Perché oggi sto troppo bene, canterino.
Tomorrow, some calamity will happen to me. What calamity? -Something bad. Because, today, I feel too good, songbird.
Captions 3-6, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 13Play Caption
The woman says it: something bad. In the following example, a suspect is describing someone dying as a terrible accident, not a murder.
È caduto e ha battuto la testa, ma non volevo! È stata, è stata 'na [una] disgrazia!
He fell and hit his head but I didn't want that. It was, it was a terrible accident.
Captions 20-21, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 13Play Caption
Here, again, a terrible tragedy:
Era sull'autobus dove è successa la disgrazia.
She was on the bus where the tragedy occurred.Play Caption
The cognate is, of course, "a disgrace," but if we look up disgrace, we see other words that are used more commonly, such as una vergogna.
Tu sei la vergogna della nostra famiglia. Vergognati!
You are the disgrace of our family. Shame on you!
Captions 46-47, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 11Play Caption
So, disgrazia often refers to a natural disaster or someone dying suddenly. It's just something to keep in mind (tenere a mente or tenere presente). Because it might happen that when you are traveling in Italy, you'll get some bad news. It's important to know that disgrazia might refer to a tragedy, an accident, a misfortune. Not necessarily will the speaker be talking about a disgrace.
As we have mentioned in the past, Italian and English don't always correspond regarding parts of speech.
Italians love to call each other names (just like lots of folks). One way to say that someone did something you totally do not approve of is to call them a disgraziato (a disgraceful fellow). We have to be a bit careful because it can either mean someone who has fallen on misfortune, but it can also mean someone who ought to be ashamed of himself, so context is key.
Don't take our word for it. Let's look at some examples:
Disgraziato, ti ho scoperto con le mani dentro al sacco!
You bastard, I've discovered you with your hands in the bag!Play Caption
Io non sono come quei disgraziati che parte [sic: partono] per fame, ma'. Io vado a Roma per fare lu [pugliese: il] cinema, ma', sia chiaro, eh, cinema.
I'm not like those poor guys who leave because they're hungry, Ma. I'm going to Rome to make movies, Ma, to be clear, uh, the movies.
Captions 41-43, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 4Play Caption
Keep in mind that when you want to call someone a disgraziato, you need to distinguish between masculine and feminine and singular and plural.
Disgraziato can be used as an adjective or as a noun. We could say that as an adjective it is more likely referring to misfortune:
Tu cosa diresti? -Be'... direi... povera disgraziata la signora! -Eh. -Eheh!
What would you say? -Well... I would say... poor unlucky lady! -Uh-huh. -Uh-huh!
Captions 49-50, Un medico in famiglia S1 EP1 - Casa nuova - Part 6Play Caption
As a noun (especially if well-articulated) it might very well be talking about a "bad" person:
Disgraziato! Delinquente! Assassino!
Scoundrel! Delinquent! Murderer!
Caption 58, Psicovip Super Minivip - Ep 17Play Caption
Or it can be a combination.
Speriamo la prossima stazione di questo disgraziato sia qui vicino.
Let's hope the poor bastard's next stop is near here.Play Caption
Strappare (to tear, to yank, to rip) is an interesting Italian verb, with a useful, related noun uno strappo (the act of ripping up) that goes hand in hand with it.
Sembrerebbe un tuo capello.
It seems like one of your hairs.
Va be', dai, strappami il capello, forza. Strappa 'sto capello.
OK, come on, pull out a hair, come on. Yank this strand out.
Come on, ow!
Captions 37-40, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuolaPlay Caption
The previous example is literal and you can easily visualize the act. The following example could be literal, but not necessarily. It describes a somewhat violent act, but this grandfather might be speaking figuratively.
Insomma, mi hanno strappato via la mia nipotina dalle braccia.
In short, they tore my little granddaughter from my arms.
Caption 84, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuovaPlay Caption
Even when we're talking about hair, strappare can be used figuratively.
Guarda, mi strappo i capelli da, proprio...
Look, I'm really tearing my hair out from, right...
Caption 24, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 1Play Caption
In this week's segment of La Ladra, there is a wonderful Italian expression with the noun strappo.
Ma sono vegetariano.
But I am a vegetarian.
Ma non fai mai uno strappo alla regola?
But don't you ever make an exception to the rule?
E... allora potresti venire nel mio ristorante, naturalmente saresti mio ospite.
And... so you could come to my restaurant, you'll be my guest, naturally.
Captions 61-64, La Ladra - EP. 8 - Il momento giustoPlay Caption
Did you hear the percussive T, the well-articulated R, and the double, percussive P? It's a fun word to say. Remember that in Italian a double P sounds different from a single P. To hear the difference, go back to the examples about hair. There's a double P in strappare, or strappo, but there is a single P in capello or capelli. Tricky!
Strappare (to tear, to rip, to yank) is very close to rompere (to break) or even spezzare (to break, to snap, to split). So fare uno strappo alle regole, means "to break a rule," "to make an exception."
Another expression with the same noun — strappo — is dare uno strappo (to give [someone] a lift).
Ti do uno strappo a casa?
Shall I give you a lift home?Play Caption
The more conventional word would be un passaggio. Read more about passaggio here.
Here are some situations in which you might want to use the verb strappare or the noun strappo:
You want someone to tear off a page from their notebook or pad. Mi strappi una pagina? (Would you tear off a page for me?)
You want someone to give you a lift home. Mi dai uno strappo? (Will you give me a lift?)
You hardly ever eat ice cream, but today, you'll make an exception. Faccio uno strappo alla regola. Mangerò un gelato! (I'll make an exception. I'm going to have ice cream!)
You are very frustrated with listening to someone complain. Quando comincia con certi discorsi mi viene voglia di strapparmi i capelli. (When he/she starts up with that story, I get the urge to tear my hair out.)
Try fitting in these new words to your Italian practice. Send in your suggestions and we'll correct them or comment on them.