Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by kurberry, Feb 6, 2006.
Can anyone give a good translation of this word in English? Any hints about its origins?
This term indicates an ambition without any chance to be achieved... an aspiration which is higher than a person actual abilities... we often talk about "velleità artistiche" or "velleità letterarrie"...
Garzanti suggest "foolish ambition" and "foolish aspiration" as possible translation... but I guess there is something better, so I would wait for other suggestions...
About its origins... it has a clear reference to the Latin verb volo, vis, volui velle, which means "to want"...
One entry found for velleity.
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: New Latin velleitas, from Latin velle to wish, will -- more at WILL
1 : the lowest degree of volition
2 : a slight wish or tendency : INCLINATION
velle in Latin means to wish something but with poor chances to obtain
Tsk, Garzanti doesn't report "velleity" as a translation of "velleità", but you can find this word in the "English-Italian" section... according to Garzanti it is a formal word, so I guess it's not very used in spoken language... I guess we should wait for natives' suggestions...
I expect that most people (including myself ) would not immediately recognize velleity if they heard it.
I think "foolish ambition" or "vain hope/ambition" work well.
Couldn't would-be fit in some contexts?
Ha velleità artistiche
He's a would-be artist
Better yet: wanna-be
Absolutely! Why didn't I think of that? Wanna-be suggests it's a hopeless/unrealistic ambition more than would-be does(or at least I think it does).
My only reservation is that wanna-be is pretty informal/colloquial whereas velleità would also be suitable in a formal context.
In a formal context, I'd stick with vain/unrealizable ambition.
Might use "would-be" in this context: He's a would-be musician because he cannot (does not have the skills, talent, intelligence, etc.) get work as a composer.
Meglio più tardi che mai: Google Traduttore: pretensions: which would be both vain; not serious and with no chance of realization:
Separate names with a comma.