pessima salute di ferro

ChiaraDB

New Member
US English
This is from an article describing the Pope's state of health.

"un Papa che ha compiuto 84 anni, e gode di una pessima salute di ferro"

I did Google search on the term, and it seems to be a recognized idiomatic expression, but for the life of me I can't figure out how someone can enjoy a bad good state of health - help? :)
 
  • stella_maris_74

    Mod About Chocolate
    Italian - Italy
    Hi,
    without a wider context, we can only guess that maybe whoever wrote this isn't quite happy with the Pope's excellent state of health ;).
    If you tell us more of the context, we'd be able to verify that guess.
     

    infinite sadness

    Senior Member
    italiano
    Salute di ferro = robust health

    Pessima = very bad

    The idiomatic meaning is due to the fact that the "badness" is towards others.
    Good for me but bad for others.
     

    ChiaraDB

    New Member
    US English
    Thank you, stella and sadness! I think that because Pope Benedict is known to be in rather bad health, it can't mean that he has good health and other people don't like that. I looked up quite a few of the references of this expression on Google, and it seems to be used in an ironic way, to mean "health that is consistently and solidly bad."

    http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q="pessima+saluto+di+ferro"#sclient=psy&hl=en&source=hp&q="pessima+salute+di+ferro"&pbx=1&oq="pessima+salute+di+ferro"&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=6000l6105l0l2l2l0l0l0l0l0l0ll0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=e2cdbf82a93ada0c&biw=1600&bih=775
     

    stella_maris_74

    Mod About Chocolate
    Italian - Italy
    I admit I'm not up-to-date on Pope B.'s health, but judging from the contexts appearing through your google search it seems that you've nailed it, ChiaraDB :)
     

    infinite sadness

    Senior Member
    italiano
    Surely, it's an ironic use. It means "unfortunately for other people, he has a very good health".
    I'm sorry for you, but I am still alive.
     

    Gianfry

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think there might be a different interpretation.
    La versione ufficiale è che il papa gode di una "salute di ferro", la realtà è che il suo stato di salute è pessimo.
     
    If there is no additional context which explains the use of this expression, I think the irony has to do with "ha compiuto 84 anni". He is getting on in years, still alive, in spite of his ill health. People sometimes say this of themselves in an ironic way when they continue to live, or to "get on with their lives", in spite of their poor state of health. Given the continual speculation in the media about the Pope's state of health (and speculation about succession), the fact that he "keeps going" adds to the irony.

    In other contexts it is used to refer to hypochondriacs and shirkers (in a negative way), and sometimes in a more joking way about people who enjoy talking about their health problems.
     
    Last edited:

    ChiaraDB

    New Member
    US English
    johngiovanni, I think you have nailed it! I was halfway to what you say here, but you added the nuance that I was missing. Grazie infinite!!
     
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