October 31, 2005

Alito, the Italian word.

What does it mean? A quick look at an Italian-to-English translation site shows it means "breath," and that there is a common expression "alito cattivo," which means "bad breath." I emailed my Italian informant for more info, and he's been away from Italy long enough that he wasn't sure if Italians say "alito" outside of the expression "alito cattivo" (because there is another Italian word for "breath," "sospiro"). So he called his daughters in Rome. He emails:
To the question: what do you think when I say alito? One said: "alito di vento" (breath of wind, forgot about that expression!) and alito of a person (but not negative), the other said: "bad breath" (alitosi). Small sample.
So there you have it -- in case you want to use imagery in discussing Samuel Alito. A breath of fresh air? Bad breath? It's your metaphor!


Ruth Anne Adams said...

I need an Alitoid.

AllenS said...

There are two meanings for the word Alito. One is Italian, and the other is American. Since I don't speak Italian, I'll tell you what Alito means in American: Democratic Party Heartburn.

Sean said...

Thus the judge's name is cognate with our word "halitosis." How fascinating.

vbspurs said...

I speak Italian, Ann.

And yes, alito means breath, but in the sense of to aspirate via your mouth.

Or, if you want in good Anglo-Saxon, to blow breath out.

The word is halito in Spanish and Portuguese, and from that version, you can see the Latin prefix we use for:


Also, compare your example of sospiro to suspiro in Spa/Port. as well, which means primarily "sigh", as much as a breath.

In Italian, alito cattivo is polite, but alitosi is the more common word.

The word in Italian has an emphasis on the first syllable, AH-lee-toh.

Whereas, I believe Judge Alito, pronounces it ah-LEE-toe, yes?


amba said...

Next, Dems will be calling him a mouth breather.

vbspurs said...

Next, Dems will be calling him a mouth breather.

Careful Amba.

Mouth breather is too close to the bottom-feeders, scum-sucker lawyer jokes Ann hates so much.

Although we love them!


SippicanCottage said...
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