What’s the meaning of “Farsi il mazzo”?

Farsi il mazzo in Italian

Farsi il mazzo
To work one’s a** off

Literal translationTo do oneself the deck of cards
MeaningTo work very hard
IPA pronunciation/ˈmɛtteːre ˈnɛːro su ˈbjaŋko/

Farsi il mazzo is an informal expression, but it’s not a curse word so it’s safe to use at work. Farsi il culo, on the other hand, features a curse word and literally translates as “to do one’s a55 off”.

Where does this come from? Nowadays, mazzo is a deck of cards. In this expression, however, it means something quite different. We have to go back a few decades to find Venetian women called impiraresse, from the old verb impirar, who used to string pearls on linen or cotton threads. These threads were called mazzi. The more pearls they strung, the more they earned. That is why in farsi il mazzo means “to work very hard”.

man running with a parcel in his hands

For example, you could say…

Mi sono fatto il mazzo per organizzare la nostra luna di miele.
I worked my ass off to plan our honeymoon.

Abbiamo dovuto farci il mazzo per finire il progetto in tempo.
We had to bust our asses to finish the project on time.

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