What’s the meaning of “Avere il braccino corto”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian saying Avere il braccino corto along with its pronunciation. If you are an Uncle Scrooge, this idiom is for you.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

Avere il braccino corto

Meaning of the expression

Avere il braccino corto can be literally translated as “to have a short little arm”, which is the same as the English expression to be stingy. This saying is used to describe someone who doesn’t like to spend money and is tight-fisted.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom can be broken down into…

  • avere (to have)
  • il braccino (the little arm)
  • corto (short)
woman giving her son some pocket money

For example, you could say…

Mia zia ha il braccino corto. Non dà mai niente in beneficenza.
My aunt is stingy. She never gives anything to charity.

Paola deve avere un braccino molto corto.
Paola must be very stingy.

Pronunciation of Avere il braccino corto in Italian

Now let’s hear how this expression is pronounced.

Avere il braccino corto
To be stingy
Literally: To have a short little arm

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

Where does Avere il braccino corto come from?

This expression comes from the cloth sellers of the past. Before the invention of the meter, cloth was sold “in arms”. The seller would literally use their arm to measure the length of the cloth. Often, however, the seller would ask a younger helper to do the measuring instead, since a boy’s arms are shorter than an adult’s. This way, they could get away with selling a “shorter” arm’s length of cloth.

seller measuring a piece of pink cloth

Ho comprato due braccia di stoffa e il venditore mi ha fregato sulla lunghezza!
I bought two arms of fabric and the seller ripped me off on the length!

And after all, when you have a short arm, it’s not easy to reach your wallet! 😉

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian saying Avere il braccino corto!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Avere il braccino corto 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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