What’s the meaning of “Essere al verde”?

In this short lesson, we will see what the meaning of the Italian idiom Essere al verde is along with its pronunciation. If you spend all your wages in one day, this expression is for you!

Let’s start! Iniziamo!

Essere al verde

Meaning of the idiom

Essere al verde can be literally translated as “to be in the green”. Its meaning is similar to the English expression to be broke, to be flat broke, so it’s used as a synonym for “to have very little or no money”.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom can be broken down into essere, which means to be and al verde, which literally means “at the green”.

worried woman emptying a wallet

Sono completamente al verde. Mi presteresti 20 euro?
I am flat broke. Could you lend me 20 euros?

Pronunciation of Essere al verde in Italian

Now let’s hear how this idiom is pronounced.

Essere al verde
To be flat broke

Mio fratello è sempre al verde. Spende tutti i soldi in Gratta e Vinci!
My brother is always broke. He spends all his money on scratch cards!

Where does Essere al verde come from?

This saying is thought to have originated in the past when special burning candles were used to track time in auctions. A candle would be lit to begin an auction. These candles were special because they had a green base: if the flame reached that point, no one could bid anymore on that auction, and the auction itself was considered closed.

Those who didn’t bid were considered poor. That is why the idiom includes the word for green in Italian.

some candles burning on a chandelier

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian idiom Essere al verde!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Essere al verde 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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