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Mappine Means Dish Towel

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A listener notes that among the many Italian-Americans in Rome, New York, the term mappine is commonly used for dish towel. In some some dialects of Italy, particularly the Piedmont and Neapolitan regions, the word mappina means cloth or towel or rag. In the mouths of Italian-Americans, that final syllable was dropped, a linguistic process known as lenition, and handed down through generations, resulting in variable spellings such as mopeen. Mappine also extends metaphorically to someone who is filthy or disreputable or spineless. Another term used by many Italian-Americans is gagootz, from the Italian word for a type of squash, which applies to someone acting goofy. This is part of a complete episode.

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