To put on airs, or to show off/boast/act superior/think you’re hot sh*t, can be translated to darsi delle arie in Italian. Literally, to give oneself airs. That is the nice way to say it, or the proper way, but there are also more colloquial (less elegant) ways to say that a person is acting superior.
(Disclaimer: I am not sure if menarsela is used all throughout Italy, or just in the North.)
Menarsela comes from the Italian verb, menare. Originally it meant to ‘transport from one place to another,’ or ‘to lead,’ but recently it has also come to mean ‘to beat up,’ or ‘to deliver blows.’ (‘As I rained blows upon him!!’ – Frank Costanza).
The former definition is the one that interests us, for its connection to ‘putting it out there,’ or, to put on superior airs, as menarsela would be used. It is a reflexive verb, menarsi that becomes menarse, because we add the object, ‘la‘ to the end of it: menarsela.
(What is the object ‘la,’ you ask? Well, let’s just say that you’ll have to send me a private message for that explanation, since I shan’t sully Young in Rome’s blog post!)
Side note: menare is in about 100 idioms and definitions, so keep in mind that this is not the only way it is used!
‘Ryan Gosling è super famoso, pero non se la mena.’ – Ryan Gosling is super famous, but he doesn’t show off.
This one is definitely a Roman thing. Tirarsela comes from the Italian verb, tirare, meaning ‘to pull.’ Like menare, tirare has many many definitions (also means to throw, like a ball), but in this case, tirarsi comes from the meaning, ‘to pull.’ And again, the object is ‘la‘ (explanation given upon request, like stated above), making tirarsela.
1) Claudio sapeva così tanto sulla parola ‘menare,’ che se la tirava.’ – Cluadio knew so much about the word, ‘menare,’ that he acted all superior.
2) ‘Ho fatto il master a Duke University. Me la tiro. ‘ – I did my masters at Duke University. I’m a show off (or I show off).
Speaking of which, have YOU created your NCAA tourney bracket?! GO DUKE GO!
3) ‘Anche se Valeria è la studentessa-PHD più bella in ingenieria, non se la tira.’ – Even though Valeria is the best looking PHD student in engineering, she doesn’t act like hot sh*t.