Italian idioms with numbers

In this lesson you’ll learn the most common and interesting Italian idioms with numbers.

Let’s start!

Click here to go to the Italian idioms with numbers interactive exercises!


Italian idioms with numbers

In quattro e quattr’otto

How long does it take to count 4 + 4 = 8? Not even a second.

So, when you do something in quattro e quattr’otto, it takes very little time for you to do it.

In quattro e quattr’otto
In a heartbeat
Literally: In four and four eight

Mio fratello sistemerà il rubinetto in quattro e quattr’otto.
My brother will fix the tap in a heartbeat.


Chi fa da sé fa per tre

Meaning, working alone is more efficient than working in a group.

Fare da sé means to manage oneself, to do something oneself.

Chi fa da sé fa per tre
If you want something done, do it yourself
Literally: Those who do it themselves do it as [if they were] three

Sono impegnato, oggi non posso aiutarti.
Non ti preoccupare, faccio da me.
I’m busy, I can’t help you today.
Don’t worry, I can manage by myself.

italian idioms with numbers - Chi fa da sé fa per tre
Chi fa da sé fa per tre
If you want something done, do it yourself

Non c’è due senza tre

It translates to good things / bad things come in threes.

Non c’è due senza tre
Good things / bad things come in threes
Literally: There’s no two without three


La terza volta è quella buona

It translates to third time’s a charm.

Useful to remember for any failures we come across in our daily lives: never give up. If you can’t remember a certain Italian verb or grammar rule, keep exercising it and you’ll see results!

La terza volta è quella buona
Third time’s a charm
Literally: The third time is the good one


Un po’ per uno non fa male a nessuno

L’uguaglianza, equality, is a nice concept.

Un po’ per uno non fa male a nessuno
It doesn’t hurt anyone for each person to do his part
Literally: A bit to everyone doesn’t hurt anyone


Chi ha fatto trenta può fare trentuno

You’ve come this far, why would you give up now?

This idiom is said to date back to 1517, when Pope Leo X once created 30 new cardinals in a single consistory. When he noticed he had left out a very religious and respectable man, he added him in to the list, saying that “who made 30 can also make 31”.

Chi ha fatto trenta può fare trentuno
In for a penny, in for a pound
Literally: Who made 30 can make 31


Contare come il due di picche

There’s also a variant that goes contare come il due di briscola, where briscola is a popular card game in Italy. A two of spades (or briscola) is worth nothing, game-wise.

Contare come il due di picche
Not count for anything
Literally: to count like a two of spades

italian idioms with numbers - Contare come il due di picche
Contare come il due di picche
Not count for anything

Briscola
(Italian card game)


Essere un pezzo da novanta

You could translate this as to be a big shot, but essere un pezzo da novanta is actually a compliment in Italian and is never used with irony.

Essere un pezzo da novanta
To be a big shot
Literally: to be a ninety piece


What next?

Click here to go to the Italian idioms with numbers interactive exercises!

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