Fuori come un balcone (and other ways to call Italians crazy)

Can we just take a moment to talk about one of my absolute favorite phrases in the Italian language?

Good, I was hoping you’d say ‘yes’. If you said ‘no’, well then tough crap. You’re still here reading ain’t ya? Who’s the sucka now, eh?

See, now, right there would be a good opportunity to say,

“Whoa, M, you are fuori come un balcone. For reals.”

What does this absolutely fantastic phrase mean?  I thought you’d never ask.

Literally translated, it’s ” you are out like a balcony“. The word fuori in this context is shortened from the widely used “fuori testa” (translated: out of one’s mind). In addition to pazzo and matto, this is an acceptable way to playfully call a friend crazy or nuts.

As for the second part of the phrase… a balcony, as we all know… is out. Here, let me show you:

fuori come un balcone - out like a balcony

balcony protruding from building facade – “out”

As far as can tell, the phrase seems to have taken hold in the world of Reggiano slang. It seems to be lesser known in Parma and Modena, for example. One online link suggests that it was first coined by comedian, Paolo Rossi. However, I would like to see more valid source citations before declaring this to be true. Studies are currently being conducted to pinpoint its origin.

Side note: If you know the origin of this phrase and would like to participate in our very official study, please leave a comment.

It should be noted that in the highly sophisticated Italian Dictionary of Youth Slang (hosted by a Russian site… ?), the following entry is listed:

BALCONE. (I) “Sei fuori come un balcone!”, espressione usata per indicare una persona che non sa quello che dice o fa qualcosa di anormale (spesso perché è ubriaco). Col termine “Balcone” s’intende anche il seno di una donna.

I, personally, have never heard “balcone” also being used to refer to a woman’s breast, as suggested above… but hey… I may be out of the loop with the current Youth Slang these days. (By the way, the rest of that dictionary is worth a gander for you Italian speakers).

I also find it amusing that one of the only other references I can find to this fantastic phrase is on WordReference.com, a site used primarily by middle-aged translators apparently. Here the phrase “sei fuori come un balcone” has been translated to: “you’re off your rocker“… hardly words of youths, but whatevs.

That’s all for tonight’s foray into the linguistic genius of Italian slang. I encourage you to peruse my other Itanglish articles for similar revelations:


Inspired by a Nathalie on Twitter, I would like to propose a contest…. 

Simple entry rules – just answer the following question in the comments:

What are you fuori like? 

I’ll list the best of the best here… Plus a couple from me to get the ball rolling:

  • I’m fuori like Pluto, man. (- M @MarriedToItaly)
  • I’m fuori like shoulder pads. (- M @MarriedToItaly)
  • Come una passeggiata per i campi. (- Nathalie @spacedlaw)
  • fuori come un barbecue in giardino (- Nathalie @spacedlaw)
  • Sono fuori come un terrazzo (- Giovanni @GioNanook)
  • Sono fuori come un mercato (- M @MarriedToItaly)
  • fuori come un’ala (- @StresaTravel)
  • Sono fuori come un cavallo (- Giovanni @GioNanook)
  • I’m fuori like sun-dried tomatoes (- M @MarriedToItaly)
  • Sei fuori come un lampione (- Giovanni @GioNanook)
  • I’m fuori like Jupiter’s 67th moon (-M @MarriedToItaly)
  • sono fuori come un giardino (- MarkD)

ok ok ok …. Now, I’m fuori like unemployed… gotta get back to work! I’ll check back later. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Fuori come un balcone (and other ways to call Italians crazy)

  1. Nothing to add with regard to this most interesting expression. But just had to tell you that you are my new favorite blogger 🙂

  2. I’m Italian and you had me laugh, it’s a funny expression, you are right! Hard to explain too… all you wrote is right on, you did a good job, I may add it’s often used to describe someone who is out of his mind or stoned.

  3. Well, I left Italy almost 20 years ago, but I remember that that expression was very common in Bologna (where I come from). As Anna Mosca rightly said, it was used to describe someone either drunk or stoned. Very common also the reflexive form: “Sono fuori come un balcone”.

    • So maybe the craziness factor is just here in Reggio? Makes sense… we’re all a bit nuts here. 🙂

      Just made an update to the post – care to jjoin my contest? 🙂

      • The expression could be used for crazy people too, in a more general sense.

        As for the contest, I’m replying to you on Twitter 😉

  4. Hi – I confirm we also use “fuori come un balcone” round our way (Ferrara/Bologna). As for the *breast* reference I’ve only ever heard of ‘balconcino’ (small balcony) which I believe is a kind of push-up bra ..not that I know much about these things, of course.
    As for your contest I’d like to submit: “sono fuori come un giardino”, which I think I must have picked up somewhere.

  5. uhm…eppure lo sento spesso dove abito io e l’ho sentito spesso anche a Parma; non saprei dare una spiegazione, del resto l’Enza costituisce una formidabile barriera linguistica :asd:

    • It’s true. The Enza has some kind of force field associated with it. Where are you located? (sorry, just seeing this comment today… a bit late to respond)

  6. I would add also “fuori come una cassapanca” (out as a chest) – that means that a balcony is not strange anough for the person you are talking to

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