Italian Word for the Week: Mazzo

spring flowers

Mazzo (n. m.)
a bunch.

That’s nice. A nice bunch of flowers for our word for the week. How kind. Well, don’t be too hasty because although this entry does begin with a nice bunch of flowers it ends with brutal and violent death. But for now let’s get back to the flowers – un mazzo di fiori in Italian – because mazzo means bunch, as we know, and fiori means flowers, as we already knew. So, un mazzo di chiavi is a bunch of keys; un mazzo di asparagi is a bunch of asparagus. (This learning Italian lark is easy, isn’t it?) Moving ever so slightly outside our comfort zone, un mazzo di carte is a pack of cards; and mettere tutti in un mazzo means ‘to lump everything together’.

Talking of lumping everything together, let’s look at the feminine form: una mazza. This means a piece of wood, a club, stick, mallet or bat. So a cricket bat is una mazza da cricket, a baseball bat is una mazza da baseball, and a wombat is una mazza da wom… No it isn’t. Just checking you’re still awake. Because here comes the ugly bit: from mazza we get ammazzare – to murder – which is defined in Italian as uccidere con la mazza o con mezzi violenti – to kill using a mazza (piece of wood) or by violent means.

Useful phrase
Mi sono fatto un mazzo al lavoro
I’ve done everything I can; I did everything I could (I’ve put my best effort in)