A fascinating thread at postumia (Russian LJ, found via Avva) investigates the origin of the Russian fake-Italian phrase Финита ля комедия! [finita la com(m)edia!]; the blogger describes her shock on discovering, upon hearing a classmate corrected in an Italian class, that the actual Italian phrase is “La commedia è finita” (well known from the end of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci). She first suspects it’s a misremembering of the line from the opera that somehow got established in Russian culture, but a commenter traces it back to Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time (written in 1839, over a half-century before the opera): “-Finita la comedia! – сказал я доктору” [‘”Finita la comedia!” I said to the doctor’; note the misspelled “comedia”]. It’s not clear whether Lermontov simply mangled the phrase or misunderstood the context it can be used in (as a dependent clause, e.g. “finita la commedia, gli spetattori sono andati dal teatro”). And another commenter makes reference to the supposed dying words of Augustus Caesar, “Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.”
It’s all most interesting, but the best thing that came out of it for me was the discovery of the Corpus of the Russian Language. The internet gets better and better.


  1. John Emerson says

    The internet gets better and better.
    Amen. It’s haphazard, but you can already find stuff from home that only the best research libraries had fifteen years ago.

  2. I remember the phase as, “finita la musica, passata la festa”. Or is that something not connected with this?

  3. were about Street just their to actually because Years later, a scientist.

  4. michael farris says

    Up country the glass before elephatizing surgeons, above the trunk packed for.

  5. marie-lucie says

    Maybe it’s a pseudo-Italian calque of the French expression “Finie la comédie!” (meaning “let’s be serious now” – this could be said to a child who has been acting up).

  6. That could be, since in the early nineteenth century the Russian aristocracy (i.e., the literate class) was at least as fluent in French as in Russian.

  7. John,
    Also not connected to this is the English phrase, “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.”

  8. Just found it in Trifonov’s Другая жизнь (1975):

    Все ! ― сказал он. ― Finita la comedia!

    “That’s it!” he said. “Finita la comedia!”

  9. There are now two ghits for “elephatizing”, Michael Farris’s lovely 2008 comment, and a tweet from someone called Fenny, as follows: “#HiDorathy we are ELEPHATIZING👌 this thing and we mean it…Period👌”. Make of it what you will.

  10. 👌!

  11. John Emerson says

    It all goes back to “Ite missa est”.

  12. PlasticPaddy says

    The glyph is great. Next time i need to say “curving my fingers as if to throw bunny-rabbit shadow on wall with the aid of a lamp in an otherwise dark room” I can use the glyph instead, even 6 times for emphasis! Is there a version where the two “ears” are separately visible?

  13. Exactly how the glyph looks depends on your platform and font. Emojipedia has a nice search engine and will show you pictures on various platforms.

  14. You can’t have just two finger-rabbits.

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