What’s the meaning of “Fare un buco nell’acqua”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian idiom Fare un buco nell’acqua along with its pronunciation. If you have ever been stuck, this expression is for you!

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

Fare un buco nell’acqua

Meaning of the idiom

Fare un buco nell’acqua can be literally translated as “to make a hole in the water”. Its meaning is the same as the common English expression to try in vain or to the verb to fail, so it’s used to describe a situation in which one fails to accomplish a task.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom can be broken down into…

  • fare (to do, to make)
  • un (indefinite article)
  • buco (hole)
  • nell’ (in the)
  • acqua (water)

There is also a shorter version as che buco nell’acqua!, which means “what a failure!”.

seaside with a beach and clouds

For example, you could say…

Non possiamo permetterci di fare un altro buco nell’acqua.
We cannot afford to fail again.

Non abbiamo venduto nemmeno un prodotto. Che buco nell’acqua!
We didn’t sell a single product. What a failure!

Pronunciation of Fare un buco nell’acqua in Italian

Now let’s hear how this idiom is pronounced.

Fare un buco nell’acqua.
To try in vain, to fail.
Literally: To make a hole in the water.

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

Where does Fare un buco nell’acqua come from?

To find the origin of this idiom, we must look at its literal meaning.

You can’t really poke holes in water because the surface of any liquid (superficie in Italian) will stabilize and flatten out under the force of gravity. You can try as many times as you like to punch a hole through it, but no matter how stubborn you are, you are doomed to fail. You’re basically trying in vain.

image of a sea - superficie dell'acqua - water surface

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian idiom Fare un buco nell’acqua!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Fare un buco nell’acqua 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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