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In bocca al lupo

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Raimondo, Sep 15, 2004.

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  1. Raimondo Member

    What does,"in bocca al lupo" mean. I believe it is other than ,"in the wolfs mouth".
  2. Pinney New Member

    USA, American English
    The English translation of "In bocca al lupo" is "good luck." Or, since it's so idiomatic, maybe "break a leg" would also be appropriate?
  3. deorc Member

    North-east Italy - Italian
    I agree with you Pinney.

    By the way, when someone tells you "in bocca al lupo" to wish you good luck, you are supposed to reply "crepi" (maybe you can use the extended sentence as well, i. e. "crepi il lupo", but I'm not sure).
    If you simply reply "grazie", you are supposed not to have luck! ;-)
  4. Citrus

    Citrus Senior Member

    Español / México
    Buon giorno!!!

    I'm back again . . . now whith a doubt that, belive it or not, my teacher wasn't able to clear . . . In my text book (the one I use for Italian class) comes this dialogue:

    - So che domani hai un essame . . . in bocca al lupo!!!
    - Crepi il lupo!!!

    Non capisco niente!!! :confused:

    My teacher told me not to try and traslate the expression, that it is just a way of wishing good luck . . . but I don't get it :eek: . . . and I was hoping some of you clever friends could help me out . . . please. :)

    Grazie (in advance???:confused: )
  5. Alfry

    Alfry Senior Member

    it's like your "break a leg"

    whishing: "in the mouth of the wolf"
    the answer you get is:
    "I wish it could die."

    your teacher is right.
    don't translate it.

    by the way, this topic has been discussed so for a more detailed explanation try the search feature (unless it's still down)
  6. thequanta New Member

    italy english
    I believe it's a reference to Cappuccetto Rosso-- Little Red Riding Hood. The fairy tale is more famous in Italy than North America even, having inspired many films. It is directly translated "in the mouth of the wolf".

    Crepi is, "to hell with".

    - So che domani hai un essame . . . in bocca al lupo!!!
    - Crepi il lupo!!!

    My teacher told me not to try and traslate the expression, that it is just a way of wishing good luck . . . but I don't get it :eek: . . . and I was hoping some of you clever friends could help me out . . . please. :)

    Grazie (in advance???:confused: )
  7. I can't make the search work. However I know opera singers say "in bocca al lupo" to each other before a performance. In that context I always thought it meant "may you howl like a wolf," again a negative-good wish like "Break a leg."
  8. Anachronism New Member

    English and USA
    This phrase does loosely translate to a common english expression of "Good Luck" or "break a leg" since it is often used as a theather expression. However, it does mean "into the mouth of the wolf". This is offered up to someone to instill courage, since they are about to attempt a task that is very noteworthy. The well wisher offers this to their colleague and the response to it is "crepi il lupo" "I shall eat the wolf"
  9. Plodder

    Plodder Member

    England, English
    I had heard of the idiom "in boca al lupo" but not the response "crepi il lupo". Where does the word "crepi" come from?

    Ringrazio anticipatamente
  10. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    from the verb crepare = morire
  11. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    English (American)
    Il verbo crepare è stato discusso qui. Molto interessante. :)
  12. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Anachronism, that username is funny, considering your first post in our forum replied to one 13 months old! Well, there's always something or someone new who will benefit! Welcome aboard!
  13. Jackturk New Member

    I have a friend who lives in Florence, and in an e-mail I mentioned an English saying '' fingers crossed'' meaning '' I hope all will go well'' and he said '' in bocca al lupo'' would this be the correct translation?
  14. nowall

    nowall Senior Member

    Italia, Italiano
    it's a way to say: good luck! (to have good luck in something)


    According to Garzanti:

    A: "In bocca al lupo!"
    B: "Crepi il lupo!"

    A: "Good luck!"
    B: "Thanks!"
  15. nowall

    nowall Senior Member

    Italia, Italiano
    What should I reply to anyone who say me: 'break the leg'?

    corrections are always welcomed! ;)
  16. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    You reply: Thanks! The phrase comes from the theater, where there's a superstition that it's bad luck to wish someone "Good luck," so performers would say to one another "Break a leg." Now we use it whenever someone is doing something (a presentation at work, or whatever) where luck might be needed.
  17. V52

    V52 Member Emeritus

    Italy Italian
    Hi to everyone
    Maybe should be interesting to know where the expression "in bocca al lupo" (litterally: In the mouth of the wolf) comes from.
    To hunt wolves was a very appreciated activity on Appennini mountains. The hunter who killed a wolf (named "luparo") usually went door by door in mountain villages, with the skin of the wolf as a bag, and villains used to fill it with presents, to show their gratitude, being wolves a real threat for their sheep and their lives! So the hunter who killed a wolf was considered a very lucky guy! Please note the answer "crepi!" which means litterally "Let's hope the wolf will die!" (and not you...) pointing out to the difficulty of killing a wolf...;)
  18. joanpeace

    joanpeace Senior Member

    Alberta, Canada
    Canada - English
    I was interested in the word "crepi" so I looked it up and found it in an earlier post (August 27, 2004). It's interesting that the same question was posed, that is, the translation of in bocca al lupo.

    The word "crepi" was translated as a casual way of saying "morire = to die". A possible translation was "kick the bucket."

    In the subsequent discussion, dee20002 asked about the origins of the phrase "kick the bucket." (post #7)

    For what it's worth (better late than never), here's what I've heard:
    If a person wishes to commit suicide by hanging, he must first climb onto an object such as a chair or a bucket. After the noose is tight, he kicks the bucket away and ... crepi.
  19. finalorbit Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English - USA
    I hear it's the phrase comes from the founding of Rome, where Romulus and Remus (the twin sons of Mars, the god of war) were plucked from the River Tiber by a she-wolf. After the wolf saved them from drowning, she allowed them to nurse (thus the famous image of twin babies suckling under a female wolf). These two twins later founded Rome and this is why "In Bucca Al Lupo" means best wishes or good luck.
  20. stevenvh Senior Member

    le Fiandre, Belgio
    Belgium, Dutch
    Then why is the reply "crepi il lupo!" :confused:

    I read somewhere that in ancient times a prostitute would also be called lupa. Throws a somewhat different angle on the legend of two orphans being raised by a lupo(lupa), if you ask me... :)
  21. When I used to do opera this phrase was commonly used to mean "break a leg." Since it was "in bocca al lupo" instead of "in bocca del lupo" I always interpreted it (since it was aimed at me as a singer) as saying, "May you howl like a wolf" (like "break a leg," wishing bad luck so that good luck may actually result). What do you natives think of this? I've read all the stuff about Romulus and Remus and shepherds and whatnot, but I must say my interpretation makes more sense to me.
  22. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Vittorio's explanation (see the link in lsp's post) sounds plausible, and it's likely to be true, though I would have associated the Italian saying to the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

    P.S.: It has nothing to do with Romulus and Remus, that was La Lupa (female wolf).
  23. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    I found this on the Internet carrickp. You may find it interesting.

    In his recent post about the SFO TRISTAN, Paul Gudas wrote: >"Where do you think the phrase "In bocca al lupo" comes from? You are looking into the mouth of the wolf from the stage.< Just as the expression "break a leg" is often used in the theater instead of "good luck", Paul's metaphor for the expression "In bocca al lupo" for the moment of truth performers face whenever the curtain rises is apt. However, the expression "In bocca al lupo!" and the obligatory reply "crepi lupo" ("may the wolf drop dead") has an interesting origin. I will never forget Tito Gobbi's explanation of this when I asked him if he knew the derivation of the phrases. Gobbi explained that "in olden days, when men gathered in taverns for drink and comradery, as each departed late at night it was customary for their friends to caution them to 'beware of the mouth of the wolf' (in bocca al lupo) on the journey home, to which they boldly replied: 'crepi lupo' or simply "crepi'." Well, you had to be there to hear Gobbi's delight in recounting the story, but I have always taken his word for it. erivation of "In bocca al lupo"
  24. Tommaso Gastaldi

    Tommaso Gastaldi Senior Member

    Italian, ITALY
    L'espressione è talmente vecchia che pare nessuno ne sappia esattamente l'origine.

    In genere la versione più accreditata è quella che la fa' derivare da un augurio rivolto ai cacciatori. Il che e' parecchio plausibile.

    Ecco un esempio riadattato di spiegazione:

    <Il modo di dire in bocca al lupo viene dal gergo dei cacciatori ed equivale a "buona caccia!". Trovarsi in bocca al lupo,ossia vicino al lupo, per un cacciatore significava trovarsi nella condizione ottimale per ucciderlo, perciò l'espressione era da intendersi in forma di augurio. E l'uso vuole che a questo augurio non si risponda mai "grazie", bensì "crepi!", riferendosi ovviamente al lupo.>
  25. finalorbit Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English - USA
    Grazie! But I kind of don't understand the conjugation of "crepi". Wouldn't "crepi" be the second person singular of Crepare? So it sounds like after a person is wished good luck he replies, "you kill the wolf"?

    Am I translating too literally again?
  26. Tommaso Gastaldi

    Tommaso Gastaldi Senior Member

    Italian, ITALY
    it's 3rd person subjunctive, referred to the wolf: "crepi" = "that it die" = "(I do hope) that it (the wolf) die"

  27. This makes the most sense of all. I still like mine better, however, even though I now know it's wrong.:)
  28. finalorbit Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English - USA
    Woah... We haven't gotten to that tense yet in my class. Just when I think I'm getting a handle on this language they fire another tense at me. I need a grammatical flak jacket. (sigh) :eek:

    Grazie Tommaso e Buona Fortuna! ;)
  29. nebbione

    nebbione Member

    Tommaso, sicurament non vuoi dire "I will do my best to break it," perche' non vuoi rompere la gamba eh!

    Invece, puoi dire: Thanks! e basta.

    Break a leg!
    Thanks, (I'll do my best!)

    Do my best in the sense of "fare il meglio."

    A presto!

  30. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Dear Friends / Cari Amici -

    Gli artisti in Italia, prima di andare sul palcoscenico fare un concerto, si dicano "In bocca a'l lupo" per augurarsi buona fortuna. Come si scrive, esattamente, quest'espressione ?

    Stage and concert artistes have various ways of wishng each other well before performances. The use of "Good Luck" is avoided amongst English speakers since it is considered unlucky, and, at least in the USA, "Break a leg" is used instead.

    In Italy, "In bocca a'l lupo" is used, to which the rply is "Crep il lupo", or just "Crepi ...".

    I am not sure, however, that I am spelling these Italian expressions correctly. Can antyone please help ?

    And, yes, I DO know the alternative involving "la balena" (the whale) ... !!!

    E, si - conosco bene l'altra espressione chi fa refernz'alla "balena". Molto carino, questo ... !!!

    Best -
    Auguri - se posso dirlo senza pericolo ...

  31. emma1968 Senior Member

    L'altra espressione che tu non hai ultimato è " in :warn:culo:warn: alla balena"

    Un'altra espressione che mi viene in mente è "tanta :warn:merda:warn:".
    Quest'ultima viene soprattutto usata nel ambito teatrale e deriva dal fatto che, nei tempi passati quanto a teatro ci si andava in carrozza, se sulla strada di fronte al teatro c'era tanta :warn:merda:warn:, significava che il teatro era pieno. Quindi la parola è rimasta come segno di buon auspicio.
  32. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Cara Emma -

    Grazie per il tuo risposto ... e che velocita !!!

    "Tanta merda" ... Che questa spiegazione affascinante.

    In Francia, dove vivo, si dice, con molto semplicità, "Merde!" ... al meno che tu sia un tanto raffinato, quando diresti più tosto "Toi-Toi" come dicono i Tedeschi.

  33. emma1968 Senior Member

    You are welcome
  34. Saoul

    Saoul Senior Member

    Spain, Valencia
    Non so se sia la risposta ufficiale come "crepi" quando ti dicono "in bocca al lupo", ma in genere ho sentito dopo "in :warn: culo :warn: alla balena!" la risposta: "Speriamo che non :warn:caghi:warn:!"

    What's with Italian and luck, anyway? There's always :warn:shit:warn: involved.
  35. diddue Senior Member

    Ma come si risponde in Inglese? Break a leg.. Non si risponde?

  36. utente Senior Member

    California US
    American English
    Non ho sentito ma una risposta. Credo che non sia necessario.

  37. uinni

    uinni Senior Member

    Italy, Italian
    La risposta è:
    "and a handful of shit!"

    (come vedi torna fuori anche in inglese :D )
  38. margaretlia

    margaretlia Member

    Si risponde sul serio cosí?
    or is it just for fun?
    Anyway, it sounds original...
  39. Dminor Senior Member

    Dutch, the Netherlands
    Cosa significano litteralmente (?) queste frasi? Non le capisco assai bene..

    "In bocca al lupo" In the mouth to the wolf?
    "Crepi (il lupo)" Burst (the wolf)?
    "in culo alla balena!" In the (arse)hole of the whale?
    "Speriamo che non caghi!" Let's hope he doesn't shit?

  40. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    Hmmm.... I never heard that one, and I did theater for many years. Maybe it's a British thing?
  41. amorelli Member

    I know that in Italian the traditional way to say "good luck" is not "Buona fortuna" but rather "In boca al lupo". Is there a traditional response that you are expected to give when someone says that to you?
  42. combustion

    combustion Senior Member

    Lugo (RAVENNA)
    Italian, Italy, Ravenna
    "Crepi il lupo" !!
    bye, comb...
  43. amorelli Member

    Grazie per la risposta velocissima
  44. combustion

    combustion Senior Member

    Lugo (RAVENNA)
    Italian, Italy, Ravenna
    Di nulla! E benvenuto su WRF!
  45. catdad New Member

    Houston Texas
    English USA
    I have sung opera and I am beginning to learn Italian. In the opera, you wish your friends good luck on stage by saying:

    "In bocca al lupo!" (into the mouth of the wolf)

    and the response is:

    "Crepa il lupo!"

    I was told this is "Crush the wolf!" (kill the wolf). Will someone please tell me if this is correct? This would be especially helpful if someone is familiar with opera.

    Thank you!
  46. raffaella Senior Member

    Italy, Italian
    "In bocca al lupo" is not just opera jargon, it's universally used when you want to wish good luck (exams, hospital stays, having a baby, new job, anything really). It's the same as "break a leg."
    And yes, you answer "crepi il lupo" ("crepa" is the indicative form that often replaces the grammatically correct subjunctive in everyday speech) or simply "crepi!"
    "Crepare" means "to die of a violent or painful death".

  47. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English

    In bocca al lupo = Good Luck! (In the wolf's mouth!)
    Crepi il lupo = Thanks! (May he (the wolf) die!)

    You can't use "Crepi il lupo" to mean anything else if it isn't a response to "In bocca al lupo"..

    "Crepi!" is also a common response, though I think this is southish Italy.
  48. raffaella Senior Member

    Italy, Italian

    I don't think the use of "Crepi il lupo" vs "Crepi" is regional, "Crepi!" is just the shorter version. Since this expression is so common, it's taken for granted everybody will understand anyway.

    In bocca al lupo per i vostri studi di italiano!

  49. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    I've never heard Uinni's suggested reply - and I'm not sure I'd want to. I'm not a theatrical type myself but I've heard "Break a leg", of course. As far as I know, there's no set answer in English. If you wanted to say something, you might say "Break two!"
    English folk are not in general given to making replies in this way.
    For example in Italy a "grazie" always seems to produce a "prego" - except, of course, in Milano where there is a church Sant Maria delle Grazie but no corresponding Santa Maria delle Prego - but in England one often hears a "thank you" without any response at all - and without any disrespect either. It's a cultural thing, I suppose.
  50. Nicholas the Italian Senior Member

    It's a good question... why being eaten by a wolf is? ;)
    (I think that someone just poked at the original version, replacing an animal with another and a body part with another.)
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