What does figurati mean in Italian slang?

Answered by James Porterfield

Figurati! In Italian slang, figurati is a versatile expression that can be used in various contexts. It is derived from the verb “figurarsi,” which means “to imagine” or “to picture.” However, in colloquial speech, figurati has taken on a different meaning altogether.

When someone says “figurati,” it is often used to convey a sense of reassurance or to downplay a situation. It can be translated as “Don't worry about it!” or “It's nothing!” This expression is commonly used to respond to someone's gratitude or appreciation. For example, if someone thanks you for a favor or a kind gesture, you can respond with a heartfelt “figurati” to indicate that it was no trouble at all.

But here's the interesting part – figurati can also be used in a sarcastic or ironic manner. You can say figurati when you actually mean the opposite of what you're saying. It's a way of being polite or avoiding confrontation, even when you're not happy about something. For instance, imagine accidentally spilling on your friend's brand new, white 500€ Gucci shirt. They might be upset, and you could respond with a sarcastic “figurati” to make light of the situation, even though you know it's a significant problem.

In addition to these common uses, figurati can also be employed as a form of dismissal or indifference. When someone shares a problem or complaint with you, you might respond with a nonchalant “figurati” to indicate that their issue doesn't concern you or that you're not interested in discussing it further.

It's important to note that the tone and context in which figurati is used can greatly influence its meaning. The way it is pronounced, the accompanying body language, and the relationship between the speakers all play a role in understanding the intended message.

Speaking from personal experience, I have found figurati to be a versatile and frequently used expression in Italy. It's a way of maintaining harmony in conversations, diffusing tension, and expressing politeness. Whether you genuinely mean it or use it ironically, figurati can be a handy phrase to have in your Italian slang repertoire.

To summarize, figurati is a multi-purpose expression in Italian slang. It can be used to express reassurance, downplay a situation, or sarcastically dismiss a matter. Its meaning is highly dependent on the context and tone in which it is used. So, next time you find yourself in an Italian conversation, don't hesitate to use figurati to show your appreciation or diffuse a potentially awkward situation.