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50 good-to know adjectives part 5

We've come to the final 10 adjectives of the list of 50 good-to-know Italian adjectives. If you can learn these and use them in a sentence, you will have a good basis for conversation in many situations. Of course, there are many more and we'll feature new lists from time to time. 


41) simpatico (likeable, congenial, nice)

This is such a great Italian adjective, but it’s hard to translate into English. It describes a person that you want to get to know, someone who is attractive as a person, rather than physically, someone with a great personality, and a warm smile. More about simpatico here.

E poi il cuoco è uno simpatico, stava simpatico pure a te.

And besides, the cook is a nice guy. You liked him, too.

Caption 62, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 9

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41a) antipatico (unpleasant, troublesome, nasty)

The opposite of simpatico, antipatico can describe a person, but also behavior or a situation.

È severo e pure un po' antipatico.

He is stern and also a bit unfriendly.

Caption 41, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 4

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Ti devo dare una notizia un po’ antipatica (I have to give you some unpleasant news).

Il mio insegnante di Italiano è veramente antipatico (my Italian teacher is really not very nice).


42-42a) Educato (polite, well-behaved, good-mannered) and its opposite, maleducato (rude, ill-mannered, impolite) have nothing, or very little, to do with going to school and getting an education. They have to do with manners and behavior, and also training as regards children and animals.

È una ragazza madre ed è una persona tanto carina, tanto gentile, educata.

She's a single mother and is a very nice person, very kind, polite.

Caption 43, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 6

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Non si azzardi più a chiamarmi a quest'ora, maleducato!

Don't you dare call me again at this hour, how rude!

Caption 69, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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In other words, educato and maleducato are generally false friends. They do not mean "educated" and "uneducated."


43) Sospettoso mostly describes a person. For something that’s suspicious-looking, the adjective sospetto is normally used. Il sospetto is a noun that means  “the suspect.”

No, il barone era sospettoso e faceva assaggiare il cibo prima di mangiare alla moglie,

No, the baron was suspicious and had the food tasted, before eating it, by his wife,

Captions 14-16, Caravaggio EP1 - Part 20

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44) affettuoso (affectionate, loving, tender)

Un tipo affascinante, simpatico, affettuoso.

A charming, friendly, affectionate type.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 10

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45) ingenuo (naive, gullible, inexperienced, innocent)

Someone who is ingenuo isn’t all that familiar with the ways of the world. They may be too trustful and might easily get conned.

Mi crede così ingenuo da affidare a Lei un compito così delicato?

Do you think I'm so naive that I would entrust such a delicate task to you?

Caption 47, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 3

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46) tranquillo (tranquillo, calm, with no worries)

This very useful adjective covers a lot of ground, so it’s a good one to have in your Italian vocabulary. If you travel in Italy, you’ll undoubtedly hear this expression a lot: Stai tranquillo. It means, “Don’t worry.” The polite version is Stia tranquillo. It can also mean, “Stay calm.”

Lei non è incriminato di niente, deve stare tranquillo, va bene?

You haven't been incriminated of anything, you can rest easy, all right?

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 7

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47) preoccupato (worried, concerned)

This adjective looks like it should mean “preoccupied,” but it basically means “worried.” 

Sono molto preoccupato per mio figlio (I’m very worried about my son).

And someone might say to you:

Non ti preoccupare (Don’t worry). 

And if the situation is formal:

Non si preoccupi (Don’t worry [formal]).

More about worrying in Italian, here.

48) intelligente (intelligent)
This is an easy cognate and it means just what you would think!


49) stupido (stupid)
This is another adjective that means just what you would imagine it would.


50) pazzo (crazy)

This is a fun word and primarily describes a person or animal. Note that just as in English we can be crazy about something or someone, Italian uses this adjective, too.

Sono pazza/pazzo di te (I’m crazy about you).

And “to go crazy” is diventare pazzo (to become crazy).


When we are talking about something, on the other hand, we need the adjective pazzesco. Pazzo is only for humans and animals.

Hai avuto un successo pazzesco, eh?

You were wildly successful, huh?

Caption 1, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP2 Una mina vagante - Part 2

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51) furbo (clever, cunning, shrewd)

Ho detto: "Non fare il furbo".

I said "Don't be a wise guy."

Caption 39, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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This adjective can either be positive or somewhat pejorative, depending on the context. It is sometimes transformed into a noun, as in the example above.

And with that, we’ve given you more than 50 (but who’s counting?) good-to-know Italian adjectives to put in your pocket. Try them out for size — practice them as you go about your day, observing your human, animal, and physical surroundings.

Learn more!
Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos available with a subscription. Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace and through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


Adjectives as adverbs and vice versa

An adverb modifies, or describes, a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. But in Italian (as in other languages), we sometimes mix and match. Sometimes we use an adjective like an adverb and vice versa. Let's look at a few of the common adjectives that fall into this category. 


One of these cases is the adjective leggero (light, lightweight). It might be more correct to say Guarda come vola in modo leggero, (look how she is flying, as light as a feather). Or we could consider leggera (lightweight) as modifying the noun, in this case, una farfalle (a butterfly). 

Guarda come vola leggera.

See how weightlessly it's flying.

Caption 19, Gatto Mirò EP 10 Piantiamo un albero

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Another is forte. It's basically an adjective, as in the following example.

Orfeo era... aveva un carattere forte.

Orfeo was... He had a strong personality.

Caption 35, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 4

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But forte is used quite often as an adverb, especially after a verb. In the following example, it's translated as "great," also primarily an adjective, but we use it as an adverb, too.

Sto andando forte, eh?

I'm doing great, right?

Caption 24, Non è mai troppo tardi EP 2 - Part 12

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Fortemente exists as an adverb and is used in some contexts, especially before the adjective it happens to be modifying. 

Io non le ho prese. -Non lo so, ma sei fortemente indiziata! -Ma!

I didn't take them. -I don't know, but you're a very strong suspect [strongly suspected]. -Well!

Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena - Part 4

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But it's very common to use the forte when it comes to modifying verbs. Fortemente would sound wrong. 

Dai papà, alza la testa e fai resistenza mentre io ti spingo giù, ispirando forte.

Come on Daddy, lift your head and press while I push you down, inhaling deeply.

Captions 18-19, Provaci ancora prof! S2E3 Dietro la porta - Part 22

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Like forte, veloce is often used in place of the adverb velocemente

Dixi l'aveva soprannominata saetta, perché andava veloce come un fulmine.

Dixi nicknamed it "Saetta" (lightning bolt), because it went fast like lightning.

Captions 8-9, Dixiland In bicicletta

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E perché, vado troppo veloce?

And why? Am I going too fast?

Caption 56, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 3

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Oh cowboy, se tu cambi obiettivo così velocemente, la selvaggina scappa!

Oh, cowboy, if you change your target so quickly, the game gets away!

Caption 35, Il Commissario Manara S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro - Part 6

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Piano is the opposite of both forte and veloce. There is no specific adverbial version, but it can be used both as an adjective and an adverb. Piano has different meanings, so it's not always clear, even from the context, which meaning it has. 

Ciao. -A presto. Vai piano.

Bye. -See you soon. Go slowly.

Captions 48-49, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 6

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Luca, non senza autorizzazione! -Shh. Parla piano.

Luca, not without authorization! -Shh, speak softly.

Captions 46-47, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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Let's keep in mind that adjectives used as adjectives need to agree with the nouns they modify, but when they are used as adverbs, they stay just the way they are. In the following example, forte is used as an adjective to describe i sentimenti (the feelings).

Spero solo che anche i suoi sentimenti siano altrettanto forti.

I only hope that his feelings are as strong as yours.

Caption 12, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 11

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Lo spada è uno dei pesci più veloci esistenti,

Swordfish is one of the fastest fish in existence.

Caption 10, Linea Blu Sicilia - Part 3

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Some cases don't seem to fit the pattern. In this final example, veloce seems to be used as an adverb, but its plural ending agrees with the plural noun like an adjective. 

Poi dice che sono gli etiopi che corrono veloci, eh.

Then they say that the Ethiopians are the ones who run fast, huh.

Caption 42, Sposami EP 6 - Part 4

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How to Hurry Up in Italian

We may think of Italians as being relaxed, but they have to rush around just like the rest of us. And since they do so much rushing around, there is some variety in how they talk about it. There are verbs, nouns, and adverbs to choose from. Let's take a look.



The verb sbrigarsi (to hurry, to hurry up)


Come in ritardo?

What do you mean "late?"

Senta, Barbara, lasci perdere le scuse e cerchi di sbrigarsi invece.

Listen, Barbara, forget these excuses and try to hurry up instead.

Captions 28-29, La Ladra - Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti

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It's common to use the familiar form with a family member or friend. The following example is in the second person singular, so don't forget to stress the first syllable, not the second! The three consonants in a row make it fun to say. The "s" always has a "z" sound when it comes before "b."


Dai, sbrigati che ci perdiamo l'inizio del film.

Come on, hurry up, otherwise we'll miss the beginning of the movie.

Caption 47, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno

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By the way, dai (come on) is just an interjection that is generally used in the second person singular regardless of whom you are talking to (although you wouldn't say it at all to someone you need to be formal with). 


If I want to tell two or more friends or family members to hurry up, then I need to say sbrigatevi. Here, the stress is on the second syllable (the "a")!


Io vado avanti, vi aspetto là, eh, sbrigatevi.

I'm going ahead, I'll wait for you there, eh, hurry.

Ah, ricordatevi le cinture di sicurezza!

Oh, remember your seat belts!

Captions 40-41, Un medico in famiglia - S1 EP1 - Casa nuova

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If we need to say the same thing using the polite form, it's si sbrighi in the singular. This might be used by a police officer who is asking to you move your car out of the way. The plural would be si sbrighino.


So this verb isn't super easy to use, but if you memorize the second person singular familiar, it will come in very useful.



One more thing: sbrigare in its non-reflexive form means to "to deal with." 


Va be', noi andiamo che abbiamo un sacco di lavoro da sbrigare.

All right, we're going, because we have a lot of work to get done.

Caption 37, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP6 - Reazione a Catena

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La fretta

Another way to tell someone to hurry is fai in fretta. Note that here the verb is fare which means both "to make" and "to do."


Fai in fretta, ti prego.

Be quick, please.

Caption 57, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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La furia

Often fretta goes hand in hand with furia. In fretta e furia (in a big hurry).


Se tu trovi un cadavere in una stanza d'albergo

If you find a dead body in a hotel room

e scopri che l'occupante della stanza ha pagato per altri due giorni in anticipo,

and you discover that the occupant of the room had paid in advance for two more days,

però se ne va prima in fretta e furia,

but he leaves beforehand in a big hurry,

ti insospettisci, no? -Eh!

you become suspicious, don't you? -Yeah.

Captions 11-14, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di Vetro

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If you see someone rushing out of the house, you might say:

Dove vai così in fretta e furia (where you are off to all of a sudden)?


In some parts of Italy, in Tuscany, for instance, people just say ho furia to mean ho fretta, sono di corsa. I'm in a hurry.


Non è neanche passato a salutarlo?

You didn't even stop by to say goodbye?

No. Dovevo andare via, c'avevo furia [toscano: fretta].

No. I had to leave. I was in a hurry.

Captions 9-10, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP8 - Fuori servizio

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You might get asked if you are in a particular rush, for example, when someone wants to talk to you or spend some time with you. If you're in Tuscany they might say:

Hai furia o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?


Anywhere else in Italy, they would probably say:

Hai fretta o possiamo fermarci per prendere un caffè (are you in a rush or can we stop for a coffee)?


Di corsaa compound adverb


"Scusa, ma vado di corsa".

"Sorry, but I'm in a rush."

"Parliamo più tardi".

"We'll talk later."

Captions 55-56, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modo

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We shouldn't think that these are the only ways to talk about being in a hurry, or telling someone to hurry up. But they will give you a good start. In substance, they have similar meanings, but they are used differently, and that's where it can get a bit tricky. Vado di fretta or ho fretta both work. Vado di corsa works, but not ho corsa. So keep your antennae up, and you will gradually absorb these words into your vocabulary. You'll have your favorites, too. 

Being Embarrassed in Italian

In this lesson, we’ll talk about a curious use of the noun imbarazzo (embarrassment). But first let’s look at another word associated with embarrassment: the noun la vergogna and the verb vergognarsi (to be ashamed, to be embarrassed). Here, you need context to help decide if someone is ashamed or embarrassed because they're closely tied.

Valeria, eri disperata, non è colpa tua.

Valeria, you were desperate. It's not your fault.

Però mi vergogno molto.

But I'm very ashamed.

Captions 6-7, La Ladra - Ep. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 8

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In the following example, the meaning is more of embarrassment. Note that the speaker is using the subjunctive.

Suo padre alleva pecore. È normale che se ne vergogni un po', no?

Her father raises sheep. It's normal for her to be a bit embarrassed about it, right?

Captions 69-70, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss Maremma - Part 2

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Italian often uses the noun form imbarazzo (embarrassment) with the preposition in (in) when expressing embarrassment, as in the following example.

Te ne sei andata come se avessi visto il diavolo.

You took off as if you'd seen the devil.

Scusami, non so che cosa mi è preso, forse mi sono sentita in imbarazzo.

Sorry, I don't know what came over me, maybe I felt embarrassed.

Captions 27-28, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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In this week’s segment of La Ladra, Dante and Eva’s son are looking at bicycles, to replace Eva’s old bike, which Dante inadvertently wrecked. The bike store proprietor says:

Ecco, non c'è che l'imbarazzo della scelta.

Here we are. Just an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

Caption 37, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 1

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The above translation uses an English idiom, which comes from an 18th-century French play. “Embarras” in French means “embarrassment” or “confusion.”  We could also say that the choice is overwhelming or almost embarrassing, because every item is worthy of being chosen.


L’imbarazzo della scelta is a great expression to be familiar with because it’s used quite often when someone is a presented with a vast choice of great things to choose from, for example: What Italian city would you like to visit? C'è solo l'imbarazzo della scelta. The problem is choosing one!


Chiaro and Chiaramente

A user wrote in with a question about these two words. Is there a difference? Yes, there is: chiaro is an adjective, and chiaramente is an adverb. But that’s the simple answer.


Language is in constant flux, and chiaro has various meanings, just as “clear” in English does. And this adjective has come to take on the job of an adverb in certain contexts, as Marika mentions in her lesson on adverbs.


"Non fare troppi giri di parole, parla chiaro".

"Don't beat around the bush. Speak plainly."

Caption 29, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modo

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As a matter of fact, dictionaries list chiaro as both an adjective and adverb, but as an adverb, it's used only in certain circumstances, with certain verbs.

What’s the difference between parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente?

Well, sometimes there isn’t much difference.


Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaro.

Moreover, the report from my colleague in Milano is clear.

Caption 30, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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In the example above, the speaker could have used the adverbial form to mean the same thing.

Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaramente.


Parlare chiaro has become an idiomatic expression — un modo di dire. It gets the message across very clearly.  It implies not using flowery language, wasting words, or trying to be too polite. But parlare chiaramente can have more to do with enunciation, articulation, ormaking oneself understood. So, sometimes parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente can coincide, but not necessarily.


Apart from this modo di dire, the adjective and adverb forms are used a bit differently in grammatical terms.


Since chiaro is an adjective, it normally describes or modifies a noun. To be correct, then, we often use è (it is).


È chiaro che non lo deve sapere nessuno perché il marito è gelosissimo.

It's clear that no one should know, because her husband is very jealous.

Caption 33, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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Chiaro may be used by itself with a question mark to ask, “Is that clear?”


E non sono tenuto a spiegarti niente, chiaro?

And I'm not obliged to explain anything to you, is that clear?

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

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The adverb chiaramente, on the other hand, can stand alone before or after another clause or can be inserted just about anywhere in a sentence.


Natoli ha chiaramente bisogno di glutine, eh.

Natoli clearly needs gluten, huh.

Caption 33, La Tempesta - film - Part 5

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Using chiaro, Paolo could have said:

È chiaro che Natoli ha bisogno di glutine.
It’s clear that Natoli needs gluten.


But chiaro has a special in-between meaning when it’s used in place of an adverb with verbs such as parlare (to speak) and vedere (to see).


Finché non ci ho visto chiaro la tengo io.

Until I've seen things clearly I'm keeping it.

Caption 44, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

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Although we have translated it with an adverb, we could also say:

Until I get a clear picture of things, I’m keeping it.


Look for sentences with either chiaro or chiaramente and try switching them, making the necessary changes. Doing a search on the video tab will give you plenty of examples.

Education and Educazione: Friends or Not?

English speakers think of school when they hear the word “education.” But educazione in Italian usually means something a bit different. Check out what Italian words correspond to the English “education.” Istruzione is a common one. This sounds like “instruction,” so we can understand it well enough, although we usually think of instruction as in “instructions” for how to do something. Titolo di studio is another one. This is about what diplomas or degrees you have. Formazione is another. This refers to what one has been trained in. Gli studi corresponds to “studies,” and refers to the schools one has attended, and what someone has majored in, but English speakers can easily forget that educazione is more about upbringing, and teaching one’s children (or pets) to behave, than about going to school.


Here are some reminders from Yabla videos.


If you’ve been following La Tempesta, you know that Paolo, a Venetian unemployed wealthy factory-owner’s son has suddenly taken on, against his will, responsibility for his brother’s adopted son, an orphan from Russia. They are both having a rough time of it. The following comment (from this week’s new video) is from a meeting with the school principal after the kid got in a fight. They are not talking about book learning here.


Ma prima di metterlo in classe con i bambini normali,

But before putting him in a class with normal children,

bisognerebbe educarlo.

one should teach him some manners.

Captions 10-11, La Tempesta - film

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In the following example, we’re talking about a dog. For Caterina, the dog is part of the family so she talks about him as if he were a person (with bad manners).


Sempre in giro a ficcanasare questo cagnazzo...

Always snooping around this old dog...

Lo devi scusare Malvina, è un gran maleducato...

You have to excuse him Malvina, he's really ill-mannered...

Captions 49-50, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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In the following example, Manara has called his boss in the middle of the night for something he thought was molto importante and urgente. His boss didn’t appreciate it per niente (at all)!


Non si azzardi più a chiamarmi a quest'ora, maleducato!

Don't you dare call me again at this hour, how rude!

Caption 69, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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In actual fact, his boss uses maleducato as a noun, as is common in Italian. Indeed, it’s a common insult to somebody who is not being polite. It implies that the person was brought up badly—maleducato—and therefore has no manners. The adjective “rude” in English gives the idea. “Disrespectful” could have worked, too.



Male (evil, badly) is often used as a prefix, lending its "badness" to other words. It’s often truncated to mal. Male is both a noun and an adverb. Technically the adjective form is malo, as in: ha reagito in malo modo (he reacted in a bad way). But colloquially, people do say non è male to mean something’s not bad, even though male isn’t an adjective. A correct way to describe something as "not bad," would be with malvagio (wicked). These days, malvagio is usually used in the negative, to say “not bad,” in talking about something you’re eating or drinking, for example:

Non è malvagio questo vino (this wine isn't bad = it's drinkable).


Or a movie you’ve seen: 

Quel film non era malvagio (that movie wasn't so bad).

Maledire (to curse someone, to wish someone ill)
Maldestro (maladroit, clumsy)


There are plenty more words with mal where these come from. Take out your dizionario!