Avere il braccino corto

Avere il braccino corto in Italian

Avere il braccino corto
To be stingy

Literal translationTo have a short little arm
MeaningBeing stingy or not wanting to spend money
IPA pronunciation/aˈveːɾe il bratˈtʃiːno ˈkorto/

Where does this 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.

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

woman giving her son some pocket money

For example, you can 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.

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