Word of the Day (la parola del giorno)

Word of the Day: Rosicare

So you know when you find out your ex has a new special someone? Or when you postponed buying a plane ticket and then when you finally went to buy it, it doubled in price? Or maybe when you went to a restaurant and didn’t indulge in the salad bar because you didn’t realize it was included in the price? Or when everyone tells me ‘wow you look so much better tanned!’ You know, when you get that gnawing feeling like you just want to SCREAM, or use an expletive? Well that is rosicare in Italian/Roman slang.

Just like many other Italian words, rosicare  is a bit hard to translate into English. Literally, it means to gnaw/nibble, or to erode. To use it, conjugate it normally, according to person and tense. From what I understand, one can use rosicare to mean either, 1) being envious (or like our English phrase, ‘green with envy,’ or 2) getting angry, annoyed, or fed up. There is a very thin line between the two explanations, yet it is important to understand both meanings.

Meaning 1rosicare as being envious:
‘Carlo ha rosicato perchè ho vinto la borsa di studio nel suo posto’- Carlo became green with envy because I won the scholarship instead of him.

Meaning 2rosicare  as getting angry:
‘Francesco mi ha detto che sto meglio con i capelli lunghi. Ho rosicato perchè me li sono tagliati oggi!’ – Francesco told me I look better with long hair. I got annoyed, because I got a haircut today!

You can also call someone a rosicone, which means, one who is envious, sensitive, or gets angry easily.

It seems like rosicare has meant ‘to gain’ at one point, because in my research I also found the phrase, ‘Chi non rischia, non rosica,’ or ‘one who does not risk, does not gain.’ Or as I nerdily like to think about it, ‘chi non rischia a Risiko, non rosica,’ – one who does not risk at Risk, does not gain [other countries]!

4 thoughts on “Word of the Day: Rosicare

  1. Hello Zvia, great post really, I landed here while searching for an appropriate English translation of the Roman slang rosicare. And eventually I agree with you: maybe green with envy is the most suitable candidate. I hope you don’t mind me correcting a couple of points though:

    In the sentence:
    Carlo ha rosicato perchè ho vinto la borsa di studio nel suo posto
    it should actually be al suo posto/al posto suo instead, just like putting oneself in somebody else’s shoes is mettersi al posto di qualcun altro.

    As for the proverb chi non risica non rosica (that’s the local variant of chi non rischia non rosica), I think you were originally right with your nerdy attempt (the Force always trust!) as I believe that Risk! was actually translated Risiko in Italian because of this very proverb. Here however, rosicare stands for to nibble and not to envy: i.e. if you are not ready to risk something you won’t get anything to gnaw and such (To nibble) is the standard meaning of rosicare in Italian (Rodere a poco a poco, rosicchiare)

    The bridge between the Roman and the stadard meaning may be induced from another proverb: mangiarsi/rosicchiarsi il gomito (dall’invidia), meaning that your envy is driving you so mad (you are now a rosicone) that you are paroxistically trying to gnaw on your elbow, which is as frustrating as for a dog trying to bite its own tail (I guess).

    I am sure that in the last four years you must have already mastered Italian enough to make this comment of mine redundant, yet I hope it may turn useful for some future visitor.
    Cheers.

    • Dear eliomarpa, apologies for only seeing this now. This is an old post and as I’m not the author (I have run the blog for the last several years but it had a series of other authors before then), I wouldn’t want to change the text in the article. But I have approved your comment so that other readers can see your edits!

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