Italian word for the week: ‘cavoli riscaldati’

Looking for a way to revitalise last night’s leftover veggies? This isn’t it. However, this Italian phrase might come in handy when describing your friend’s rekindled ‘relationship’…

cabbage being boiled in a pan

The Italian phrase “cavoli riscaldati” is an interesting idiom that literally translates to “reheated cabbage.” However, its meaning goes well beyond this literal translation.

It is commonly used to describe an attempt to make a doomed relationship work, restart a failed relationship, or pass off something old as new. It conveys the idea that if something didn’t work out the first time, it is unlikely to be successful or better the second time around.

The origin of this idiom is fairly simple. While literally “cavoli riscaldati” refers to reheating leftover cabbage, its use suggests that the result is not as good as the original, where the original may not have been so good in the first place.

It signifies that attempting to revive or reuse something that has already failed is unlikely to yield positive results.

Example sentences with ‘cavoli riscaldati’:

  • Ho deciso di dare un’altra possibilità alla nostra storia, ma alla fine erano solo cavoli riscaldati.
    I decided to give our relationship another chance, but in the end, it was just reheated cabbage.
  • Riproporre un’idea vecchia può sembrare interessante, ma spesso si rivela solo cavoli riscaldati. 
    Reintroducing an old idea may seem intriguing, but it often turns out to be reheated cabbage.
  • Se la prima volta non ha funzionato, è improbabile che la seconda volta vada meglio. Sono solo cavoli riscaldati.
    If it didn’t work the first time, it’s unlikely to be better the second time around. It’s just reheated cabbage.

The phrase “cavoli riscaldati” serves as a reminder that attempting to revive failed relationships or pass off something old as new often leads to disappointment. It encourages embracing fresh ideas, moving forward, and learning from past experiences rather than dwelling on what cannot be rekindled.

Learn more Italian words by browsing our archives

Featured image © Pongasn68 via Getty Images