Italian word of the day: ‘Addosso’

Summer is very much here in Italy, and if you’re really feeling the heat you could say: – L’estate addosso –

Summer is upon us

This phrase is perfect because, as Italian singer Jovanotti shows us in the song L’estate addosso, it’s not just about the changing of the seasons.

In the song he’s also describing the weight (and heat) of summer being “on top of” him. You could even say he

feels it weighing on his shoulders or his back.

Addosso is a particularly expressive preposition that has no direct translation into English.

It can mean on top of, or next to – close enough to be breathing down your neck. It can even mean that you feel something inside your body.

It can be used to mean something is close in terms of either space or time. And it can be used literally, or in a

more abstract way.

This slightly peculiar word comes from dosso, a rather outdated term for the back, or spine. Dosso today might

be used to talk about small hills or bumps in the road.

But more usually, dosso is used along with a preposition to be transformed into a compound preposition or

adverb, like addosso.

There’s also di dosso, which is kind of the opposite. It literally means “off your back” but is most often used to

mean “to remove”, much like the verb togliere.

There’s a related verb, addossare, which isn’t very common in normal conversation, but means something like “to lay on”, or “to lean on”. It’s used when talking about blame or responsibility:

And there’s also indossare, a verb meaning “to put on” – literally “to put on one’s back”.

When you consider the meanings of these related words, it becomes easy to see exactly what Jovanotti means about summer “weighing” on him.

And if you’re experiencing Italy’s heatwave at the moment, you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about

anyway.