In bocca al lupo

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Mezzanotte

Member
Italy/italian
anticamente i lupi erano temuti e odiati; considerati l'incarnazione del male ucciderli era motivo di vanto.

L'espressione "in bocca al lupo- crepi!"
"in the mouth of the wolf- shall he die!"
potrebbe portare fortuna perché si augura a qualcuno di trovare un lupo ("finirgli in bocca") e sopravvivergli, uccidendolo.
Per questo si è convinti che senza la formula di risposta "(egli) crepi-shall he die" porti sfortuna.

Lo stesso dicasi per "in culo alla balena- speriamo che non cachi".

Queste espressioni si usano per augurare a qualcuno di superare indenne prove difficili e pericolose. Per come vengono formulate, e nella risposta, è chiaro il loro intento scaramantico.
 
  • Mezzanotte

    Member
    Italy/italian
    A proposito di cacca. Si dice che montandoci sopra, sia pure inavvertitamente, porti fortuna!
    credo che si dica solo per confortare il poveretto che ha messo un piede in fallo.

    è come dire che se perdi al gioco, devi essere fortunato in amore. Così si cerca di stemperare l'amarezza di essere sfortunati :D
     

    Mezzanotte

    Member
    Italy/italian
    Interessante. Io ho sentito la versione "speriamo (che) cachi". Si usano tutte e due? Pero' il senso e' contraddittorio... certo, se ci si puo' trovare un senso logico.
    è vero. Mi piacerebbe sentire anche altri pareri.
    Da una rapida ricerca con google sembra che esistano entrambe le risposte, ma la loro interpretazione rimane ambigua.
     

    3fable3

    New Member
    UK, turkish, english
    After saying "crepi!" (thank you), if you want to say "you too!", is there again special way of saying, or "tu anche" will be alright?
    Thanks.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    I think "Anche a te" is better, but I don't know if that's a "standard" reply in this situation. Let's await some native insight!

    Elisabetta
     

    MünchnerFax

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    I don't know if that's a "standard" reply in this situation.
    Situation #1:
    Mr. X - In bocca al lupo!
    Mr. Y - Crepi [il lupo]!
    There is normally no reply in this case. It's a "one-way wish": :p Mr. X wishes good luck to Mr. Y, who thanks him.

    Situation #2: reciprocal wish:
    Mr. X - In bocca al lupo!
    Mr. Y - Anche a te!
     

    tericcia

    Senior Member
    Italy-Italian
    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.)
    Io ho sempre pensato che derivasse dalla favola di Pinocchio. La balena lo ingoiò, vero? E lì ci trovò il babbo; insieme riuscirono a fuggire risalendo lungo la gola della balena. Se avesse cagato non sarebbero sopravvisuti, no?
    Ne deduco che "In :warn:culo:warn: alla balena" sia un augurio di riuscire a superare un grosso ostacolo (come quello incontrato dai personaggi della favola) e la risposta "Speriamo che non :warn:caghi:warn:!" voglia solo scongiurare il pericolo più grande che in quel caso potrebbero incontrare.
    Non so, che ne pensate? Ne sono sempre stata convinta...ma forse mi sono sempre sbagliata!:D
     

    explodie7

    New Member
    USA English
    Try to think of it as a continuation of a statement rather than a statement and a response.
    "In the mouth of the wolf; may the wolf die!"

    For instance "When facing this challenge, may (I, you, we, they) prevail!"

    Me: In bocca al lupo!?
    You: Crepi il lupo!!
    Then we would high five or give one another a thumbs up or something like that.
    No need for any thank you, be it grazie, tu anche, or anything.

    As already established, it is the same thinking as with stage acting traditions where if you tell someone "good luck" it is supposed to curse them to break a leg, so you say "break a leg" so that the person has good luck.

    Although, I do like the response that Dminor made;
    '"Speriamo che non caghi!' Let's hope he doesn't shit?"
     

    sharzad

    New Member
    USA English
    (taken from various sources)
    In Bocca al Lupo means "in the mouth of the wolf" which signifies good luck. In Roman writings, the legend of the she-wolf (or fera, meaning wild beast, from which we get the word ferocious) is based on the story of Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and sons of the Roman war god Mars and the mortal woman Rhea Silvia, a Vestal Virgin and daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. The ancient Italian city in Latium, in which the twin brothers were born, was built by Ascanius, the son of Aeneas. The evil King Numitor threw his twin baby grandsons, Romulus and Remus, into the River Tiber to drown and kill them. The Tiber takes its name from Tiberinus, another King of Alba Longa.
    The twins washed ashore and were found and suckled by a she-wolf. Later they were discovered and raised by an old shepherd named Faustulus. The Latin word faustus means favorably omened, fortunate, auspicious, lucky. Romulus and Remus left Alba Longa, hoping to establish their own city. They chose a site, built a wall around it, and went on to become the legendary founders of Rome on April 21, 753 B.C. Romulus later killed his brother Remus in order to be the sole ruler of Rome, which Romulus named after himself and of which he was the first King.
    Because of the legend of Romulus and Remus, the she-wolf was considered a sacred animal in ancient Rome, and became the symbol of the city. Rome’s rival city, Alba Longa, was destroyed during the reign of King Tullius Hostilius (673-642 B.C.).
    Sometime before 296 B.C. a statue of the she-wolf, probably commissioned from the bottega of an Etruscan craftsman, had already been erected in the Capital. In 296 B.C. another statue was dedicated to the Capitoline She-Wolf and often appeared on coins in the Republican and Imperial ages. It is also interesting that the Latin word lupinus, that means wolf-like or pertaining to a wolf, is the derivation of the lupines that were used for money on the Roman stage.
    So, "in the mouth of the wolf " means good luck. We say In Bocca al Lupo in Italian theatre before going onstage instead of that silly and incomprehensible American phrase "break a leg."
     

    Sorcha

    Senior Member
    Ireland, English
    So why do they crepi so? Surely that would have been a bad thing for Rome had the wolf died..?
     

    Mezzanotte

    Member
    Italy/italian
    Eggià. Nonostante la bella spiegazione di Sharzad continuo a pensare che la frase sia legata alla sconfitta del lupo come incarnazione del Male (molto diffusa dal medioevo in poi in tutta l'Europa).

    Piuttosto... qualcuno mi spiega perché augurare a qualcuno di rompersi una gamba porta fortuna in America? :eek:
     

    joanpeace

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    There are many theories about the origin of the term "break a leg." I found several in Wikipedia.

    The traditional theory is that, in the early days of the theatre, the audience members would throw coins onto the stage to show their appreciation for the actors. By telling the actor to "break a leg," you were wishing that he did very well and would receive so many tips that he would have to "break" the leg-line by getting down on one knee to pick up all his coins.

    The phrase has made its way from the theatre into all aspects of everyday life.

    As I said earlier, there are other theories as well. Like in bocca al lupo, no one is 100% sure where it started!

    Joan
     
    Hahahaha -- la domanda è perché porta fortuna ad una persona dire di rompersi una gamba. Questa cosa viene dal teatro, in cui si dice "Break a leg" alle persone che stanno per andare in scena, perché gli attori credono che porti sfortuna dire "Good luck". È strano, lo so, ma a causa dei viaggi dei gruppi teatrali, quest'espressione, ora, viene usata da tutti. È difficile spiegare il significato ai giovani anche, è semplicemente una superstizione del teatro.
     

    Giannaclaudia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hahahaha -- la domanda è: perché porta fortuna in dire ad una persona di rompersi una gamba? Questa cosa viene dal teatro, in cui si dice "Break a leg" alle persone che stanno per andare in scena, perché gli attori credono che porti sfortuna dire "Good luck". È strano, lo so, ma a causa dei viaggi dei gruppi teatrali, quest'espressione, ora, viene usata da tutti. È difficile spiegare il significato ai giovani anche perchè è semplicemente una superstizione del teatro.
    :)
     

    Mezzanotte

    Member
    Italy/italian
    Direi di sì, e dato che siamo in tema rispondo anche io con una wiki-citazione:

    Da Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera.

    In bocca al lupo è un augurio scherzoso di buona fortuna che si rivolge a chi sta per sottoporsi ad una prova difficile.
    L'espressione ha un valore scaramantico: per scongiurare l'eventualità di un avvenimento indesiderato lo si esprime qui sotto forma di augurio. Andare nella bocca del lupo è infatti una palese metafora per cacciarsi nei guai.
    Una consuetudine (più recente rispetto alla nascita del modo di dire di per sé) vuole che all'interlocutore che formula l'augurio si risponda con «crepi il lupo».



    Anche se l'origine del modo di dire non è chiarissima, è certo che esso sia nato nel mondo rurale, molto probabilmente dal linguaggio di pastori e allevatori, presso i quali il lupo era temuto come animale pericoloso per eccellenza, perché predatore di bestiame.
    Secondo un'altra interpretazione, il detto sarebbe nato dal linguaggio dei cacciatori: i lupi infatti, sebbene non commestibili, venivano spesso soppressi in passato sia per salvaguardare il bestiame, sia perché considerati, a torto, pericolosi per la popolazione umana. L'uccisione di un lupo era dunque considerato un gesto prestigioso, e il detto avrebbe avuto in origine il valore di un augurio di buona caccia. In realtà il lupo, a dispetto dell'iconografia popolare, è per natura schivo dell'uomo.



    ----

    Per certi versi avevo visto bene.
     

    Pompeo

    New Member
    English & Italian
    If someone says, "In bocca al lupo" they're declaring that they are in a tight spot.
    Another person then replies, "Crepi il lupo" or "slay the wolf".
    This is similar to this exchange:
    A: "I'm having trouble dealing with this problem."
    B: "Good luck, I know you can work it out."
     
    It can be used in that way but it still primarily "good luck" and the response, Crepi [il lupo], is in the subjunctive (congiuntivo) and carries the same sense as in English: "May he die [, the wolf]" the verb crepare is nearly the same meaning as morire but carries a slightly more familiar sense. (To kick the bucket is how I have seen it translated, but a better verb in English might be "to croak" or "to crap out").
     

    hmp114

    New Member
    english
    Italians I met during a three-year stay in the university town of Bologna tend to abbreviate the expression to "boca lupo" (may you be in the mouth of the wolf), followed by the reply, "crepe' lupo" (may the wolf die). Note spelling of boca: it has one C.

    It's bad luck to say "good luck", so, yes, this is the equivalent of "break a leg" in the theater.
     

    mosquitoinasequindress

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Just for the sake of the argument there is another Italian expression similar to "in bocca al lupo" and it is :warn:in culo alla balena !:warn:
    May we should start a new thread about this peculiar expression regarding another body part ..... :D
     

    assistme.net

    New Member
    English
    "In bocca al lupo" is an idiomatic expression...

    It is not meant to be taken literally; much like when we might tell someone to...
    "Go fly a kite!" we are not saying (literally) to fly a kite, but to go do something else... Indeed, to "Go away!"

    While "In bocca al lupo..." (literally) means... "In the mouth of the wolf...(?)"
    figuartively, the expression means much more than simply "Good luck!".

    When we consider that the appropriate reply is...
    "Crepi! Crepi al lupo!" which means... "Death! Death to the wolf!
    the implied meaning becomes more clear...

    That is, when we say... in Italian... "In bocca al lupo...(?)"
    we are provoking the listener for a his/her response to those occasions
    when s/he finds him/herself...

    "In the mouth of the adversary...(?)"
    S/He replies... "I will overcome!"
     

    Juri

    Senior Member
    italian/Slovenia
    Rileggendo lo spassoso thread, noto che Mezzanotte,al post 61, si meraviglia che in America dire a qualcuno gentilmente di rompersi una gamba sia beneaugurante. La cosa non e' strana se si consideri che vi sono giunti numerosi pure gli emigranti tedeschi, che hanno portato dall' Europa anche la propria cultura. Invece dell'adusato in bocca al lupo in Germania si usa l'altrettanto famoso "Hals und Beinbruch" con il quale si augura la "rottura del collo e delle gambe"!!!
     

    Nightingale104

    New Member
    English-USA
    I realize this is an old thread, but as someone new may also be wondering about this expression, I'll share my thoughts. As an opera singer, it has been explained to me that the expression of good luck possibly stems from the fact that when standing onstage in a traditional "horse shoe" shaped theatre, such as that at La Scala in Milano, the "house", with it's lights and balconies looks very much like the open mouth of a wolf filled with teeth. Possibly then, "crepi" could mean something like, "To hell with them if they don't like it!"
     

    ktriarch

    New Member
    English - USA
    An Italian instructor told me once that the derivation of this idiomatic phrase was, in essence, "may you be in the mouth of the wolf and may the wolf die."

    ...the idea being that you could be in the jaws of death but you will be so lucky that the creature that has you will drop in its tracks;.
     
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    ky0k0o

    New Member
    Italian
    Regarding to "the whale" expression:

    non ho mai sentito rispondere "speriamo che non caghi" ma sempre "speriamo che non scureggi (o scorreggi)".

    Il dialogo quindi risulterbbe:

    A: in culo alla balena
    B: speriamo che non scureggi/scorreggi.

    Ky0k0o
     

    fish7501

    New Member
    English - Italian
    I learned this one as a young kid. It's origin is from back when hunting in the hills it was common to come accross wolves and back then you only got one "shot" be it bow, spear or even later a gun. The concept was that if you came a cross a hungry or scared wolf and you have to defend yourself then you better get him in the through the mouth. Any other attack and you just get a very pissed off wolf.

    So when it comes to an exam or show and you have to get it right on the first go. In boca al lupo, may you get the wolf in the mouth, and crepi, and may he die.

    As explained by my sicilian paternal grandmother.
     

    ElFrikiChino

    Senior Member
    Italian (Mantova)
    I didn't read the whole thread, too long :D
    Here's a link to an article by Accademia della Crusca, about the origin of the expression. I guess it's a bit complicated, though.
     

    Ian Tenor

    Senior Member
    English UK
    :D
    Here's a link to an article by Accademia della Crusca, about the origin of the expression.
    Most interesting. Thank you, ElFrikiChino

    Nella sua terza edizione il Vocabolario riporta l’espressione ‘andare in bocca al lupo’ con il significato ‘andare nel potére del nimico, incontrare da sé il pericolo’ ...
    Those who set foot on stage (often before hostile or sceptical audiences) truly do expose themselves to danger, both emotional and professional, and it is thus natural that this expression should have come to have been used, associated with its invocatory response.

    Thank you again for the reference -

    Ian

    ~~
     

    marioperdomo

    New Member
    Inglés - Español
    Its not a textbook translation:

    It stands for:

    When stalked by failure or "in the jaws of the wolf (lupo)", you answer: "death to the wolf" referencing triumph over adversity.

    In simpler terms good luck!
     

    finalorbit

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Okay... I've been following this thread for a long time and I have to say that THIS is the simplest must reasonable explanation yet. Nice work!

    Its not a textbook translation:

    It stands for:

    When stalked by failure or "in the jaws of the wolf (lupo)", you answer: "death to the wolf" referencing triumph over adversity.

    In simpler terms good luck!
     

    acoury131

    New Member
    American English
    I was told that you say "in bocca al lupo" when wishing good luck and you respond "crepi" or "crepi al lupo" but never just grazie. Italians are very fond of wolves (i.e. il lupo perde il pelo, ma non il vizio) I always took it as kind of a "carpe diem" thing. You are basically saying the odds are against them, and they reply "to hell with it." There is no neat translation, the idea is in Italian
     

    TheOperaGuy

    New Member
    English-America
    "in bocca al lupo" literally means "into the mouth of the wolf" sort of like "onward and upward" or "tally ho," or "go get 'em, cowboy!"
    The response "crepi il lupo" means "may the wolf die" or "I hope we defeat the enemy," i.e. "we shall conquer!"
     
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