Maruflo, maruflone, maruflicchio.

From Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli (via Laudator Temporis Acti):

The entire future, as far as the end of the world, was merging for me too into the vague crai of the peasants, with its implications of futile endurance, remote from history and time. How deceiving are the contradictions of language! In this timeless land the dialect was richer in words with which to measure time than any other language; beyond the motionless and everlasting crai every day in the future had a name of its own. Crai meant tomorrow and forever; the day after tomorrow was prescrai [sic; should be pescrai — see update] and the day after that pescrille; then came pescruflo, maruflo, maruflone; the seventh day was maruflicchio. But these precise terms had an undertone of irony. They were used less often to indicate this or that day than they were said all together in a string, one after the other; their very sound was grotesque and they were like a reflection of the futility of trying to make anything clear out of the cloudiness of crai. I, too, began to lose hope that anything new might come forth from maruflo or maruflone or maruflicchio.

Crai is presumably from Latin crās.


  1. Eric Thomson says

    Not a crass presumption. The etymologies are discussed by Leo Spitzer in ‘Crai e Poscrai o Poscrilla e Posquacchera Again, or the Crisis in Modern Linguistics’ (Italica, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1944), pp. 154-169). See also The Future Revisited, posted today at Laudator Temporis Acti.

  2. Thanks — I’ve added a correction to the post.

  3. maruflicchio = D + 6 would be a record if Tensor said the Tenser were stilll keeping count

  4. PlasticPaddy says

    I am unable to find a parallel in other dialects for the transition from pescr+ suffix to mar+suffix. In fact, other dialects stop the sequence earlier. The obvious explanation would be a (humorous?) wordplay pesce “fish” vs. mare “sea”. Since no one would make a joke at the expense of the respected Doctor who speaks beautiful Italian like a signore, I picture Levi asking his informant what came after pescruflo. Rather than disappoint by saying “Ninte”, the informant created maruflo😊. What does Roberto Batisti think?

  5. A bit off to the side linguistically, but the actor Richard E. Grant very recently (August this year) made a well-received 3-part BBC TV series where he travelled around favourite areas with favourite books, and part 1 was Italy (the others South of France and Spain). Most of his books were by non-Italians such as Highsmith, Dickens and Robert Harris, but he did take Elena Ferrante and Christ Stopped at Eboli too.

    “Travelling south to the Basilicata region, Richard’s final stop on his Italian tour is the city of Matera, now a UNESCO world heritage site but just 80 years ago considered ‘the shame of Italy’. Here he looks at how the city’s fortunes were changed by Carlo Levi’s book Christ Stopped at Eboli, an account of his time spent in the region when he was exiled by Mussolini’s government for anti-fascist activities during the 1930s.
    “Levi discovered unimaginable poverty and a city where 20,000 people were living in caves dug into the rock, known as the Sassi. The publication of his book in 1945 resulted in the government moving the inhabitants of the Sassi into modern housing. Richard meets Antonio Nicoletti, whose father grew up in the Sassi, and stays in a cave hotel.”

  6. i like plasticpaddy’s fishy idea, but since it’s days that are being counted, what about an echo of the “lundi, mardi, mercredi” type sequence also floating around in the background here?

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    The Tensor’s post is interesting. Pity his blog is no more.

    The Dagaare ones mentioned in the comments are interesting; they aren’t monomorphemic (the da- bit is “day”) but dagbollo “five days from now” has nothing to do with the word for “five”, at any rate.

    Welsh has ddoe “yesterday” and echdoe “day before yesterday” (also neithiwr “last night” and echnos “night before last”) but only yfory “tomorrow.”

    Kusaal has (apart from zina “today”, su’os “yesterday”, bɛog “tomorrow”) daar “day after tomorrow/day before yesterday”, which is homophonous with daar “day”, though its syntax is different enough that the words cannot occur in the same contexts. The past/future ambiguity is not actually important, because Kusaal also distinguishes in the tense system between (in the past) “earlier today”, “yesterday”, “at least the day before yesterday, possibly much longer”, and “before that last one”, and (in the future) “tomorrow”, “day after tomorrow” and “sometime in the future.”

  8. I was going to mention echdoe earlier and the fact that no one on the web seems to have jocularly written echechdoe, but I perendinated.

  9. David Marjanović says


    Vorvorgestern, überübermorgen.

  10. The Tensor post has multiple comments about the Hebrew for “day after tomorrow”, macharataim/macharatayim , but no-one points out that it is an example of the grammatical dual (which I am pretty sure I only learned about here on LH).

  11. David Marjanović says

    My favorite example of the dual is Egypt.

  12. I learned from the TStT comments the charming “but the bucket stops here”.

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    Interesting that “Niger-Congo” doesn’t do duals at all; I can’t think of a single exception. Maybe having three numbers on top of umpteen noun classes was just too much for our poor limited human brains to cope with (though Yimas manages the feat, so it’s not outright impossible.)

  14. January First-of-May says

    but no-one points out that it is an example of the grammatical dual

    Oren kind of does, except they call it “doubling plural” [sic].

  15. Oren kind of does, except they call it “doubling plural” [sic].

    Sure, that’s the sort of ad-hoc wording I might have used before learning that there is an actual linguistic term of art.

  16. only yfory “tomorrow.”

  17. PlasticPaddy says

    Are you excluding ail trannoeth, ail drannoeth because it is two words? In Irish this looks like ar an gcéad trathnóna eile, which would be more the next afternoon but could mean the next one in two days in the right context. The normal way is árú amárach and– for LE LENDEMAIN– lá arnamhárach

  18. David Eddyshaw says

    Trannoeth is le lendemain.
    Tradwy is a real one though. I erred. (There’s even a novel called 3:00 AM Tradwy

    I haven’t read it …)

    There’s also trennydd “day after tomorrow.”

  19. Roberto Batisti says


    Unfortunately, I really have no idea.
    The only reference I could find with a bit of googling is in a paper by M.T. Greco, “Le denominazioni dei giorni a Picerno e a Tito (Potenza)”, Bollettino dell’Atlante Linguistico Italiano 19, 1995. From the Google Books preview, the initial consonant of manuflo is compared to the adverbs mënkriḍḍi and mënkroḍḍa used in Tito; however, it seems to the only occurrence of manuflo in the whole paper, so I doubt that it would be very illuminating with regards to its etymology.

  20. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Crai and poscrai with this spelling survive in Italian dictionaries; or at least the Treccani dictionary online, which marks them as antiquated but surviving in Southern dialects. They seem dialectal to me, but what would I know? I’m from the North. The third day in the future doesn’t have a name in Italian, nor in Northern or central dialects.

    Southern dialects have a pretty consistent third term. Good luck spelling dialects, but versions of pəscrillə seem widespread and well documented, often with -ll- turning to -dd-. Up North, Monti (1824) was already complaining that was a nonsense word that didn’t belong in an Italian dictionary, but the etymology from post cras illud seems too tempting and after all in Italian dopodomani l’altro feels understandable though not something I’d say.

    At that point, though, the list goes off a tangent of suffixes that were probably always meant to be ironic.

    For Neapolitan, Vinciguerra (2014) provides the unpublished second volume of Rocco’s (1891) dictionary, which implies the series: craje, pescraje, pescrigno and then indifferently pescrotto or pescrozzo or pescruozzo or pescruzzo. He manages to find one citation of pescruozzo outside of a continuous list, but that’s from a mock-heroic poem, Cortese’s (1615) Vaiasseide.

    A very informative contributor to this discussion board reports that D’Ascoli’s (1993) Nuovo vocabolario dialettale napoletano concurs on the series cràie, pescràie, pescrigno, pescruozzo and notes that in Calabrese it’s piscràie, piscriddu. However, Galiani (1789) was already giving that series and stating explicitly it’s only a series, not a list of words that can also be used in isolation:

    ma siffatte voci non si adoperano separatamente nel discorso, né si potrebbe dire: Ci vedremo pescrigno per dir che ci vedremo tra tre giorni. Si adoperano soltanto in fila per indicar la serie di essi giorni.

    That’s also what Levi was saying about his more colorful list.

    For a literary detour: the variant poscrigno for day three is also an alternative reading for Pulci’s Morgante, though always followed by the surely intentionally comedic posquacchera. The version crai e poscrai … e poscrigna e posquacchera makes it to Sanguineti’s (1982) L’Ultima passeggiata: Omaggio a Pascoli. Almost certainly as a quotation of Pulci and for its onomatopoeic value, since the poem in question starts quoting (paraphrasing? echoing?) a well-known folk song, and continues in that vein.

    Other lists for less famous dialects are provided by enthusiasts online. From the North of Apulia (above Foggia) someone in the thread reports cra, pəscrà, pəscrìll, pəscrón, pəscrəllón, but glosses the third as rare and the last two as unused, and asks the board whether anyone has ever heard them used, rather than merely recited as a series. Down the thread, someone reports as hearsay from Lecce: crai, pescrai, pescriddi, pescroddi, pescriddazzi e pescroddazzi, again with the admission that old people in the countryside say pescriddi, pescroddi but the last two just make a funny series.

    The more scholarly contributor cites also Giammarco’s (1968) Dizionario abruzzese e molisano for the sequence: cra(jə); pəscra(jə); pəscrìllə, pəscrillónə [both for day three]; pəscrillùccə.” Moreover, Rohlfs’s (1949-54) Historische Grammatik der italienischen Sprache und ihrer Mundarten as translated into Italian:

    Per i giorni che seguono [il dopodomani] l’Italia centrale e settentrionale non hanno coniato alcun termine; nel Mezzogiorno invece troviamo una notabile fila di espressioni create per mezzo di suffissi, cioè suffisso diminutivo (vocale caratteristica i) per il primo giorno, suffisso aumentativo (vocale caratteristica o) per il secondo giorno che segue […] In non pochi di questi dialetti c’è poi un termine particolare per il giorno ancora seguente, cfr. nel napoletano (secondo il D’Ambra [Vocabolario napolitano-toscano, 1873]) craje, pescraje, pescrigno, pescrotte, pescruozzo; nel Salento (Nardò) crai, puscrài, puscrìddi, puscriddàzzu, puscriddòne (Rohlfs, Vocabolario dei dialetti salentini).

    The series from Nardò is particularly interesting, because the mid-century philologist gives one, while a proudly dialect-speaking present-day blogger gives another: crai, puscrai, puscriddhri, puscriddhrignu, puscriddhrozzi. It seems no coincidence the two series coincide until day three and then go their separate ways.

    It seems fair to conclude that no Italian dialect actually has a precise name for the fourth day in the future, but Southern dialect have a universal tradition of making mocking lists of days far into the future. Still no idea where Levi’s informer got the switch from the usual pescr- to mar-, which doesn’t seem to be documented anywhere else. Maybe it’s just folklore veering into nonsense?

    Probably unrelated other then by sound, maroufle is an obsolete French term of disparagement, whose origin is also debated and ultimately unknown to the TLF.

  21. Wow, thanks for that very thorough and informative response!

    though always followed by the surely intentionally comedic posquacchera.

    That is indeed an intrinsically hilarious word (or “word”).

  22. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    The suffix is still hilariously productive, at least in Totò’s famous:

    Bazzecole, quisquilie, pinzillacchere!

    The last of the three synonyms appears to be his own coinage, but has made it into the dictionary.

  23. John Cowan says


    I forget where I heard this: “The crow is the bird of hope, for it says “Cras! Cras!”

  24. PlasticPaddy says

    Not cras, have 😊
    Numquam dicis have, sed reddis, Naevole, semper,   Quod prior et corvus dicere saepe solet.
    Marcus Valerius Martialis, Epigrammata 3.95

  25. Thank you Giacomo Ponzetto for writing up all your research for us. Delightful to read!

  26. Seconded!

Speak Your Mind