Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


A REPORT FROM coronavirus-stricken Northern Italy contains a plea to eschew the time-honored Italian tradition of furbizia, the artful evasion of government directives of everything from income tax to traffic laws.

What a great word furbizia, implying craftiness with more than a touch of civil disobedience. The word arose in 1853 Italian and comes from furbo, “sly.” As in furbo come una volpe, “sly as a fox.”

Through the wonders of Google Translate, I offer Etimologia per i Nostri Tempi, a continuation of this website’s “Etymology for our Times” series. These are my Google Translate-derived fabrications describing practices analogous to furbizia.

Asinozia. Acting like a jackass, from the Italian asino, a male jackass. I suppose it would be asinazia, were women ever to act this way.

This reminds me of the Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte. Its title literally means “so do all of them,” with the specificity that only women are thus accused (tutte, “all,” feminine plural). A typical English rendering for the opera’s name is Women Are Like That.

Bugiardozia. The practice of mendacity. Once again, in being a Romance language, Italian makes a distinction between a male or female liar, bugiardo, bugiarda.

Pianta Delli Mendacia, after an illustration by Michelangelo Caetani.

The Italian root bugia traces back to Proto-German bausuz, meaning “puffed up, arrogant, bad.” Both are related to the English “boast.”

Esbizia. The tendency of seeking the spotlight, of showing off. The word derives from esbizionista, the Italian cognate of English “exhibitionist.”

Petulanzia. Being childishly, sulky or ill-tempered. See, of course, the English “petulant.”

Image by Evan Vucci/AP from

Narcisistazia. The practice of being extremely self-centered, of having an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Think also of the English “buffoon” and “demagogue,” both of which have Italian equivalents.

Leccapiedizia. This one derives from the Italian leccapiedi, among its English equivalents “bootlicker, flunky, lickspittle, sycophant, and toady.” Nailed it.

A collection of sycophants: Trump’s first cabinet meeting, March 13, 2017. Despite their sycophancy, some are no longer there.

Ipocrizia. The practice of saying one thing and doing another is also easily recognizable in either language.

Vistosozia.. The Italian adjective vistoso describes one exhibiting garishness, gaudiness, or trumpery.

A room in the three-story Trump Manhattan penthouse atop Trump Tower. Image from

Personally, I am a member of the imbarazzatozia, from imbarazzato, “embarrassed.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: