Monday, January 10, 2011

Another Fun Things Italians Have in Common WIth Germans!

I usually assume most crazily specific words come from German. Not the case this week. Tomato sauce, emphatic gestures and the cinematic fusion of noir and slashers have a new friend: Add this word to the list of worthwhile things we’ve gotten from a certain boot-shaped country.
culacino (KOO-la-CHEE-no) — noun: the mark left on a table or other surface by a moist glass
I should probably mention that culacino is one of those that shows up most often in lists of kooky, foreign words but isn’t useful enough to appear in your average basic Italian-to-English dictionary. However, it does show up in Howard Rheingold’s They Have a Word For It — a quaint, non-web-based collection of strange words — so it at least was real enough to get the okay from some copy editor. (Also, God help the person who has to edit a book specifically about obscure, non-English words.) So, I guess I can’t say for sure that it’s real. But come on — do you have a better word for the phenomenon of rings being left on surfaces by moist drinking glasses?


Not boding well for culacino being a real word? I can’t find an etymology for it. And on the blog post where I found out about it, it was spelled cualacino, which might actually be correct, for all I know. But culacino seems to be the term most recognized by Google. So the next time you have guests and someone is rude enough to not use a coaster, tell them “You’ve ruined my coffee table with something that maybe is called a culacino, said various people who didn’t have access to complete Italian-language resources!” And then eject them from your home with whatever amount of force seems necessary.

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2 comments:

  1. Italian wiktionary spells it "culaccino" and says it's a diminutive of "culaccio", a culinary term meaning "rump". This doesn't sound unreasonable to me.

    It has 3 meanings: 1) the end of a sausage or bread
    2) (rare) the bottom of a glass
    3) mark left by a wet glass

    http://it.wiktionary.org/wiki/culaccino

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  2. Ah. See, usually a misspelling can be corrected by Google, but it becomes more difficult when the word is from another language. Thanks for the correction. Also, now that you point it out, the word is obviously related to culo, Spanish for "ass."

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