Word of the Day – Casino

La Maestra Maldestra


“Ma che casino!” cries a mother when she catches a glimpse of the toys littering her child’s room.

C’è stato un casino di gente!” reports a man of last night’s crowd in the piazza.

“Non creare casini!”  a friend warns about how (not) to handle a certain situation.

If you’re sitting there scratching your head trying to figure out how a casino relates to these three situations, then you’ve come to the right place. In my experience, casino is one of Italy’s favourite words. Why? Because it fully embodies the raw spirit and character of daily Italian life.

The word casino (pronounced cah-zee-noh) doesn’t refer to a gambling establishment, but takes some of its meaning from the hubbub that you often find at one. Italians use the word casino to describe any sort of mess, crowd, disaster, large number of something, unruly group of something, noise, screw-up, or just general chaos. Now can you see why Italians use the word so much? I mean, I don’t even know what life in Italy would be like without a daily casino or two to keep you on your toes!

Now for a bit of further explanation that’ll probably just incasinare (foul up, make a mess of) your understanding of the word. Like I said, the word casino doesn’t refer to a Casino full of card tables and slot machines. Although the word probably at one time referred to a gambling Casino, Italians have created another word to take its place: casinò (pronounced cah-zee-noh). Note that the only difference is the accented o, which puts the emphasis on the last syllable and not the middle one….

So now that I’ve made a  un gran bel casino (a nice big mess) out of your understanding of the word, I think that’s enough for the day!

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