What’s the meaning of “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian idiom Cercare il pelo nell’uovo along with its pronunciation. If you like complaining about everything, this proverb is for you!

Let’s start! Iniziamo!

Cercare il pelo nell’uovo

Meaning of the proverb

Cercare il pelo nell’uovo can literally be translated as “to search for the hair in the egg”. Its meaning is the same as the common English idiom to be a nitpick, so it’s used to describe someone who is extremely fussy and always looking for something to complain about.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom is very simple and can be broken down into…

It’s interesting to note that there are actually two translations for hair in Italian. Body hair on arms and legs and animal fur is translated as pelo (singular) or peli (plural), while the hair on our heads is translated as capelli (from capello, which means single hair)!

woman looking at her black hair

For example, you could say…

Il nostro insegnante cerca sempre il pelo nell’uovo nei nostri temi.
Our teacher is always looking for mistakes to complain about in our essays.

Mi sono appena lavato i capelli.
I just washed my hair.

Mi stanno crescendo dei bruttissimi peli sotto al mento!
I am growing some very ugly hair under my chin!

Pronunciation of Cercare il pelo nell’uovo in Italian

Now let’s hear how this idiom is pronounced.

Cercare il pelo nell’uovo.
To be a nitpick.
Literally: To search for the hair in the egg.

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

Where does Cercare il pelo nell’uovo come from?

Eggs don’t have hair. That’s why this idiom describes fussy people: they focus on what doesn’t exist so that they can find an excuse to complain. In fact, the idiom trovare il pelo nell’uovo also exists in Italian, literally translating to “to find the hair in the egg”.

man scolding a child

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian idiom Cercare il pelo nell’uovo!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Cercare il pelo nell’uovo 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

Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
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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