What’s the meaning of “Gettare la spugna”?

Gettare la spugna in Italian

Gettare la spugna
To throw in the towel

Literal translationTo toss the sponge
MeaningTo give up and admin defeat
IPA pronunciation/dʒetˈtaːre la ˈspuɲɲa/

Where does this come from? This idiom shares its origin with its English counterpart. During a boxing match, it’s customary for the trainer of a losing boxer to throw a towel (asciugamano) into the ring to concede defeat and prevent further injury. In the past, the towel was a sponge.

man admitting defeat because of a downward graphic

For example, you can say…

Il meccanico gettò la spugna e portò l’auto a rottamare.
The mechanic threw in the towel and scrapped the car.

Luca non è il tipo da gettare la spugna. Non si arrende mai.
Luca is not the type to throw in the towel. He never gives up.


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