What’s the meaning of “Mangiare la foglia”?

Mangiare la foglia in Italian

Mangiare la foglia
To smell a rat

Literal translationTo eat the leaf
MeaningTo sense danger before something bad happens
IPA pronunciation/manˈd͡ʒaːre la ˈfɔʎʎa/

Where does this come from? When cows are taken to pasture, they have to distinguish the grass and plants that are safe to eat from those that are poisonous and will make them sick. They must have an amazing sense of smell. This is why we say “to eat the leaf”: if the cow eats, it means that they smelled the leaf and found it good to eat! 😉

For example, you can say…

Enrico mangiò la foglia e smascherò il truffatore.
Enrico ate the leaf and exposed the scammer.


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