Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Starbuck, May 28, 2007.

  1. Starbuck Senior Member

    Ciao a tutti,

    When my sister and I were young, my father, whose family was from Napoli, would often use two words--sometimes in the same sentence--whenever my sister or I would either do something "stupid" or "silly" or whenever we would reach out to touch something that was not clean.

    I have no idea how to spell these words, which I've put in boldface below, but they sounded as I have written them here. If the first word is offensive, apologies upfront, But the sentence would go something like:

    "Ah, pui', don't be a cetrul."

    I've come to realize that "cetrul" is a variation of the word for cucumber. Was my father saying "Don't be stupid?"

    And does anyone recognize an exclamation or something that is close to pui'?

    Grazie in anticipi,
    Starbuck :)
  2. Malakya

    Malakya Senior Member

    Italy - Italian

    "Pui" means "poi", I think you can translate it as "besides".
    "Cetrul" derives from "Citrullo"
    You can see here.

    So, the phrase in Italian is "E poi, non essere sciocco" = "And besides, don't be stupid/silly/fool" as you said. :thumbsup:

  3. Le Peru

    Le Peru Senior Member

    Italy - Umbria
    I'm not from Napoli, but I can say you that cetrul is citrullo --> :)

    I haven't a good idea about pui', but it sounds similar to poi...
  4. oliver3 Senior Member

    "Ah, pui', don't be a cetrul."
    e se fosse:
    "Ah, bimbo, non essere un citrullo".

    Magari "pui" viene dal latino "puer" (fanciullo = child).
  5. Starbuck Senior Member

    Grazie a tutti. Ora capisco.

    Starbuck :)
  6. Never Got a Dinner

    Never Got a Dinner Senior Member

    America, English
    What is the sense of the expression "Casca il cetriolo e va sempre nel culo dell'ortolano"? Does it refer to the headaches of having children?
  7. kdl77

    kdl77 Senior Member

    Monza, Italy
    Italy, Italian
    I've never heard this expression before, so unfortunately I cannot help you with its meaning, but mind the word ":warn:culo", which is vulgar in Italian (although often used :D in informal speech!).
  8. Joankelsy New Member

    Hi Starbuck,
    Funny, I asked about this word but got email from Word Reference that it is beyond their scope or something. ???
    Library where I live found an instructor who said the word was spelled
    cetriolo, meaning cucumber or dumbhead. (It has a male anatomy connotation.)
    In southern Italy, I understand they pronounce the first syllable with a hard "g" and drop the "o" at the end of the word.
    I needed the phonetic spelling of the southern version but will probably have to go with "gedrool" and add a footnote.

    Why not try your local library and let them research the word for you?

  9. Starbuck Senior Member

    Thanks, Joan.
    You're rendering if cetriolo as "gedrool" (or perhaps "chedrool") is exactly what my father used to say. After hearing the expression used in relation to either my sister or me, I finally figured out that "Don't be a cucumber" probably meant "Don't be stupid" or "Don't be silly."

    Grazie mille,
    Starbuck :)
  10. raisetheflavour Banned

    Italian Italy
    When everyone is blaming at you for something. That is the meaning of the word
  11. london calling Senior Member


    I live in Campania: this is the Italian version of a common Neapolitan saying which has to do with their sense of adverse destiny.....

    Literally, it means that if a cucumber falls, it goes up the greengrocer's :warn:arse!:D A Neapolitan colleague of mind has "translated" it into English (inglese maccheronico, per ridere): Jumping cucumber :warn:fucks the greengrocer and has posted it in her office!:D

    As a matter of fact, I have never heard it in Italian at all.:) By the way, Joan, "citrullo" is not pronounced with a "g", but with a "c".

    Edit: in Neapolitan it means "scemo" (silly): my husband (who's local) refers to cucumbers or courgettes (zucchini) as "scemi", meaning they're a bit tasteless, so that's where it comes from, I think.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  12. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    The figurative association between a stupid person and cucumbers (or courgettes or even squashes and pumpkins) is actually widespread in Italy. :)

    All these vegetables belong to the same genus (Cucurbita), and for some reason in Italian they are a traditional icon of human stupidity.

    Depending on the area you can hear a different expression comparing this or that vegetable to a stupid person: "testa di zucca", "zucca vuota", zuccone", "citrullo", and so on...

  13. london calling Senior Member

  14. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    Testeless... and innutritious. Hence "stupid" food. :D

  15. london calling Senior Member

    Exactly, sono "verdure sceme"!:D
    The first time I heard someone call a vegetable "scemo", I thought I was hearing things!:D

    Just thought of something else: the verb "rincitrullirsi" (to become senile).
  16. Joankelsy New Member

    Thanks for all the info on ..."all you wanted to know about the Italian cucumber but were afraid to ask."
    Seems it is spelled both ways according to dictionary lookups.
    Found a place on internet that gives you pronunciation also.
    Think I'll go for chetriolo, as it gives the "chee" sound. I suppose I heard this from Italian-Americans and my ear picked it up as a hard "g".
    Thanks, folks.
  17. raisetheflavour Banned

    Italian Italy
    Go with it Joankelsy! that's right!
  18. engine93 New Member

    I believe that it is southern dialect for cetreola (cucumber). Indeed the context is a "jerk" or some other negative. Growing up in the 40's and 50's in NJ when there were many immigrant Italians around, I found that the southerners (mine are Calabrese), would use the "u" sound i instead of the "o". Some other examples are "duve" instead of dove, cunush ILO conosce. muzzarel (mozzerella). Another affectation is dropping the last vowel and putting heavy emphasis on the last consonant (ree-cote ILO ricotta, mah-nee-gote ILO manicotti, etc). Another favorite was "chooch" in lieu of ciuco (donkey). I'm surprised that your nonno had an "o" at the end!!!

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