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

In this short lesson, we will see what the meaning of the Italian saying Mangiare la foglia is along with its pronunciation. If you are not easily fooled, this idiom is for you.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

Mangiare la foglia

Meaning of the expression

Mangiare la foglia can be literally translated as “to eat the leaf”, which is the equivalent of the English expression to smell a rat. It’s used to say that you can sense danger before something bad happens. If you “eat the leaf”, you can’t be fooled anymore.

It comes from mangiare, which means to eat, and foglia, which means leaf.

For example, you could say…

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

Pronunciation of Mangiare la foglia in Italian

Now let’s hear how this expression is pronounced.

Mangiare la foglia
To smell a rat
Literally: To eat the leaf

If you need help with Italian pronunciation, check out the lesson on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation.

Where does Mangiare la foglia 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! 😉

Le mucche pascolano nel campo.
Cows are grazing in the field.

cows grazing in a field

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian saying Mangiare la foglia!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Mangiare la foglia is in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.

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