What’s the meaning of “A occhio e croce”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian idiom A occhio e croce along with its pronunciation. If you like to make estimates, this expression is for you!

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

A occhio e croce

Meaning of the idiom

A occhio e croce can be literally translated as “to eye and cross”. Its meaning is the same as the English expression more or less, give or take and also off the top of my head, so it’s used to talk about an estimated amount of something.

Linguistically speaking, it can be broken down into…

  • a (preposition which commonly translates as to or at)
  • occhio (eye)
  • e (and)
  • croce (cross)
very serious man wearing rainbow sunglasses

For example, you could say…

Quante persone pensi che ci siano sull’autobus? – A occhio e croce, direi una ventina.
How many people would you say are on the bus? – Off the top of my head I would say about 20.

A occhio e croce, direi che mancano ancora quaranta minuti.
Off the top of my head, I’d say there are still 40 minutes left.

Pronunciation of A occhio e croce in Italian

Now let’s hear how this idiom is pronounced.

A occhio e croce.
Off the top of my head, more or less, give or take.
Literally: To eye and cross.

If you need help with Italian pronunciation, check out the lesson on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation.

Where does A occhio e croce come from?

This phrase comes from the Latin idiom ad oculum, which literally means “to the eye”. In ancient times, looms (telai) were much less sophisticated than they are today.

Weavers ran the risk of their threads “slipping” from the supporting rods of the machine. When this happened, they had to make do and try to put the threads back as they had been in the characteristic “cross” pattern. This was done without any measurements, and they used their eyes to recreate the pattern, so the work wasn’t very precise. That’s how the idiom was born.

woman working on a yarn swift

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian idiom A occhio e croce!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the idiom A occhio e croce is in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.

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