Published On: Tue, May 6th, 2014

Italian Word for the Week: Infinocchiare

Infinocchiare (vb. tr.)
To fool, swindle, cheat, deceive, etc.

The Italian word for fennel is finocchio, so a literal translation of infinocchiare would be ‘to enfennelate’. The word doesn’t exist in English, as far as I know. It should, but it doesn’t. We would say ‘to add fennel’. The Italians add fennel to all kinds of fish and meat dishes, and there are also plenty of recipes where its powerful aniseed flavour takes centre stage – grilled or barbecued it works very well in salads, for example. In Tuscany, it is added to salami. Indeed, it is the addition of fennel that makes a salami typically Tuscan. Tuscan salami can cost a little more in some delicatessens, because it’s Tuscan, though historically there is no justification for this. Back in the Middle Ages, or Renaissance (or whenever…) fennel would be added to substandard produce to disguise its taste. And it is from this ignoble practice that the idiomatic sense of fool, swindle, cheat, deceive, bamboozle, hoodwink derives. As a final note, it would be remiss not to mention that finocchio is also a derogatory slang term for a homosexual. Don’t ever use it, because it’s quite offensive, but you need to know.

Useful Phrase
Non farti infinocchiare
Don’t let yourself be fooled

Image © Jon Palmer

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