"Meno male!"

Translation:Thank goodness!

December 21, 2013

122 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vajdule

I don't agree with that translation. I'm living in Italy and hear this every day. Thank God! Is far too strong. This you say in the meaning of "ah well, at least so. In the end not so bad". Example: i had to pay 40€ for it. -- Really? --Yeah, but they gave me a 10€ discount. -- Ah, meno male. ... That's it.

January 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gecko_gal

Yes, I always used it to say "Could be worse!"

June 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/christie-na

In Greece, we say "Pali kala", which literally means "Still, good" . It's exactly used as "Could be worse",

July 31, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samig59

I think the greek "mikro to kako" is closer to "meno male", almost word for word

August 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/christie-na

You're right! How didn't I think of that one? Thanks for the heads up :)

August 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samig59

Cia Christie! I grew up with a geandmother that used the expresdion quite often. I hear it lesser now.

August 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mariap.p11

I think "esto" is also a good translation .

October 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sofia841798

Και εγώ από Ελλάδα είμαι!!! I am also a Greek and i agree with you. I think that "meno male" is something like "not as bad as i expected."

December 31, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DominikKur6

Infatti !

September 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bringleton

Allora...

January 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

The best English translation for this that I know of:

"It's a good thing that ..." = "Meno male che..."

I also live in Italy and this translation fits every context I've encountered.

October 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/craaash80

"Poteva andare peggio" :)

November 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2168

As an Italian, it does not mean "not so bad", and the usage you quoted is ironic. If I say "ho vinto alla lotteria, meno male che avevo comprato un biglietto" (I won the lottery, thank goodness I had bought a ticket), I'm not meaning that winning the lottery is a bad thing, quite the opposite. "Meno male" in Italian (don't compare with Spanish and Portuguese) means "luckily", "good thing": the Collins dictionary translates it with "good!", "thank goodness!", "just as well!".

April 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ecomar1

In Spanish, we would say "menos mal" in your example too

August 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BJCUAl

f.formica: Thanks for the clarification. Always best to hear it from an expert!

October 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanG6

Literally, it looks like "less bad".

June 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kerenperla

Yeah.. In Spanish we also say "Menos mal, which I'm guessing is the same as Meno male.. which I would say the best translation is "Not so bad"

April 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

Although it sounds similar to Spanish that's not really the meaning. "Not so bad" in italian would be "Mica male" or just "Non male"

October 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kerenperla

Thank you very much for clearing this!! I appreciate it :)

November 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZacharyLee1

In that sense, it is the same as "Menos mal!" in Portuguese, like "Could be worse!" in English, as gecko_gal said.

April 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/godwin.corsil

Yes. In Portuguese we say : "menos mal". With " menos=less" and "mal=evil"

January 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kunoichi-BR

"not so bad" would be better, I think

October 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jogaduolingo

I agree with you. What Duolingo think of it?

February 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Childnacl

Duo may think “hey, man, i decide everything!”

March 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/requenaslg

Yes, "Could be worse" i think it's a bit better. This is literally in spanish "Menos mal".

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phil580026

This isn't spanish though, it is Italian. You use it in a positive context as an idiom, so it doesn't mean "it is less bad," it means "it is a good thing" According to my Italian girlfriend, anyway :P

October 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeorgeAndr166798

All the worse for the good! ? :)

March 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kenan820

In the US, based on the comments above, I'd probably go with

"Eh... could've been worse."

January 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaryannePa5

I decided to go with good job

July 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silkwarrior

Thanks for all the comments folk - I was concerned that after forking out 30 lingots for this idiom add-on that I'd be learning a load of over-formal dated phrases. But now I see that even if DL (which I generally think is great) should get things a bit wonky here, the crowd will teach me a lot. Thanks again.

March 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silkwarrior

replying to my own comment:!

I knew this phrase "meno male" reminded me of something. Then I remembered this, which supports the DL translation at least in some instances.

er, enjoy: Has full subtitles. So may be useful for learning other phrases, as well as various cleansing medical procedures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTVr0zkDfys

March 21, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PamelaJohnson1

Oh deary, deary me! I will never forget this phrase now, it is seared into my memory thanks to that large chunk of fromaggio.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LittleBlueBee

Thanks silkwarrior, it was funny. What a pity that the parodies have no subtitles and we beginners can't fully enjoy their authors' wit yet. I imagine that those who had offered Berlusconi such a present quickly understood how wrong the idea was.

March 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silkwarrior

I fear they didn't littlebluebee - he was extremely popular for a long long time. Very big approval ratings. A wise prof once said that real change only comes from outside italy. Take a look at the circumstances of his departure. All the best.

March 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martin135869

Madre di Dio! =8-0

June 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sujitkulkarni

If only meno means "thank goodness", what 'male' is doing there?

December 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

less evil or less bad is the literal tranlation.

Imagine a bad thing. It's "less bad" than that. It's indeed a relief.

January 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

There, there now. It's not so bad!

January 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laurelteaches

That makes more sense to me, thanks!

January 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samig59

Could then mean "What a relief"?

February 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

What a relief would be "Che Sollievo!"

October 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Philip_B.

Thank you. I came to the forums for a literal translation. It feels like many people overlook how helpful literal translations are.

February 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErnaBuber-

There is one native Italian on this discussion thread (see above). He said the expression is used in Italy as English speakers use "Thank goodness!" I tried Google translate. Meno, alone, was "less". As soon as I added male, the translation was "Thank God!" Male on its own was translated "bad". The literal translation is "less bad", that is true, but I believe actual usage by Italians in Italy is reflected by Duo in the translation given: "Thank goodness". Therefore, in this instance, the literal translation is misleading. You would not use male meno for "well, at least..."

March 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EstelleTweedie

That's what I needed, thank you!

November 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidCaldw1

Thank you for that!

March 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/itastudent

It's an idiom which expresses relief. The suggestion for "meno" is wrong, because all the expression has that meaning.

December 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nekogaijin

The translation is wrong.. it does not mean "thank goodness." It means more "never mind that, it could have been worse"...

March 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/timot50

i found an article about ' meno male'.http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/article-view.asp?issuetocId=448

March 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/trlowry

Enjoyed the article's cultural and personal perspective. Grazie!

April 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samig59

A very good article. Thank you for sharing.

February 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErnaBuber-

Brilliant! I had a hard time figuring out how "less bad" could mean "thank goodness", but this clarifies it. I shared the article on Facebook, and am waiting to see what my granddaughter and her Italian husband say about it.

March 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rigtig

Thanks a lot. This article gives a thorough explanation of both the meaning of the idiom and the reason why there is so much discussion about it in this thread!

August 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/paraguaijin

in spanish it's almost the same, but i didn't know how to translate it to english guess i'll have to wait for those incubating spanish to X courses

December 22, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arqui3D

Yup, "menos mal" in Spanish.

December 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samarch94

so literally means "less (than) bad" in both languages?

January 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Giuliaccia

Which would be the equivalent of the English expression "not bad."

November 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

Imagine a bad thing.
It's "less bad" than that.

January 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Amerath

Would "not so bad" or "it's not so bad" be acceptable?

February 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

I believe in some cases, yes. But the key to "meno male" is that you were expecting something bad, and it came "less bad".

You would use "meno male" when you receive a relatively high grade, but you were expecting a bad grade. So it was a relief.

You wouldn't use "meno male" when you simply receive a relatively high grade without expecting something worse. But in this case you could still use "not so bad".

February 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeanCanestri

i'm brazilian and its the same expression in portuguese: menos mal. And it means the exact same thing.... "the least of evils" when you expect something bad and its just a little bad.

August 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vanfunfun

That's right!

January 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuisZandonadi

Yes.

September 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deltaluca

what's wrong with 'just as well' ? :(

January 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

No, I don't think that expresses relief that something is less bad. I think it should be "Not so bad!" "Just as well" might work in Britain , but not in America. That does not signify the same thing at all. That would mean "It is all just as good as the other." which is not exactly the same. Example: One person says "I have Spanish for my class instead of French." The other says "Just as well. Either language is good. You can learn French at home and now learn Spanish as well." It wouldn't work for the example given by Vajdule at the top of this discussion, scroll up to see it. It certainly would not be confused with "Thank God" or "Thank goodness", because there is no relief to express. Can you give examples of its use from your friends in Italy?

January 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deltaluca

This is an idiom, the direct translation (less bad) doesn't have to have anything to do with the meaning.

January 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

"Not so bad" is also an idiom used here in America. "Just as well" is not used as an interjection here, but as someone trying to calm someone down. On the other hand, we could soothe someone by saying "There, there, it's not so bad." which might make it somewhat similar to "It's just as well." "Not so bad!" does not mean "less bad".

Yet, everywhere I go to look for more info., this is translated as "Thank goodness!" or "Meno male che" as "That's a good thing!."

Hey, I found this video by Simone Cristicchi called "Meno Male" Of course, I don't understand most of the words yet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbLSTXLr8rM

and someone else used "Meno Male" for their user name on youtube, so careful not to confuse that with the above. There is even a pizza place in Washington, D.C. with this idiom as its name.

Oh, this site has the lyrics in Italian and translated to English: http://italian-in-plain-english.blogspot.com/2010/03/meno-male.html

January 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silkwarrior

Interesting "allintolearning" The usage there seems to be the same as the thing I posted - "Thank goodness for Silvio", "Meno male che Silvio c'è)" Clearly in your example it's used sarcastically (my clip is beyond satire) but it appears to essentially be the same usage.

March 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/derylius

"At least there's Silvio" is more accurate translation IMHO

July 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alipaulam

Nothing. I think that's the perfect translation, in BE at any rate. Did you report it?

January 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deltaluca

I did yes. I asked my friends in Italy for how they'd translate it to English and they told me 'just as well' is correct (depending on the context of course)

January 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/derylius

I live in italy, and rest of the time it's used as "At least", sometimes as "could've been worse" or "than it's not that bad", but never ever as "thank goodness".

July 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lorendani

Thank goodness could also be translated as "Grazie a Dio". I am Italian and for me they are interchangeable. An example: I didn't study but I passed an exam: now I would say "Meno male" but also "Grazie a Dio". Remember, however, that between these 2 expressions there are very little differences; also the other 3 meanings of "meno male" you mentioned aren't that different from each other: "it's not that bad" could also mean that it could've been worse, that I was expecting something bad, but then it went better. ;-) goodnight

June 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jfrodrigo

i think at least its also ok, right?

January 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/david.mueh

How about 'Fortunately!'?

March 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thesoph33

"Fortunately" is what my Italian friend said it means

April 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/martinislider

"Not bad" or "Not so bad" Is how I use it but never "thank goodness" I think this is a Bad Translation!

May 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Limitd

I've always used this as "Not bad!", think that works the same way?

January 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

Not really.

Not bad is an appraisal or an appreciation in English. I don't know about Italian, but in Portuguese you would say "not bad" as "razoável" (not too good, but not bad either) or "nada mal" (really good - lit: nothing bad).

When saying "menos mal", we were expecting some bad result or some bad happening, and then we discovered it was not that bad, "thank goodnes". "less badly", something similar but not equal to "the lesser of evils".

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Calbr

I´m brazilian. Our expression. "menos mal" means exactly what you said in your last paragraph. It iIs basically a literal translation from italian into portuguese. "Nada mal" has nothing to do with "menos mal".

January 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

Yes. I was answering to Limitd, he asked about "Not bad". And "not bad" could be translated with "nada mal". (I'm Brazilian too)

January 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Calbr

You´re right.

January 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Calbr

In portuguese it would be "menos mal"

January 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rob676803

There is no exact translation to English that I am aware of, but certainly "thank goodness" is a bad one. I would translate this according to the context. In some situations, "lucky you!" would fit perfectly. In a more formal context, "could have been worse" is the best I can come up with, as it has the same meaning as 'meno male'.

January 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/luzapena

I agree with you!, and I could add another one like "At least"

March 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JorgedeEsesarte

Agree

March 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanG6

It does not necessarily have to translate to the exact same idiom in English. The point here is to learn the Italian idiom within the context of the Italian language and culture. If there is no English equivalent, it doesn't matter. We are learning Italian not English. In this case a literal translation even works -- "less bad".

'Thank goodness' is not a bad one. It could be appropriate depending on the context, in the same way that the other examples you give could fit depending on the context.

June 30, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ilmolleggi

My british ex used to say "good job!" in such cases. E.g. "meno male che non è venuto" = "good job he didn't come"

December 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FernandoPe596028

Exactly in fact in spanish the expression we use us similar and is: "menos mal" which translates literally to: less bad which I think is the reason why there isn't a direct translation to this idiom.

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Slavikkalash

善良 in chinese....

August 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisOrlan7

Lol

April 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresinha

The same in Portuguese.

March 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lorendani

Right! Thank goodness can be translated also with "Grazie a Dio!" which is stronger than "Meno male". Italian here, ask what you want to know ;)

March 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jacherweg2015

Perfect!!!

May 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olive50

"Could have been worse". I agree..

January 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lindsdav

from the words you get from hovering over I deduced "for better or for worse"

March 12, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/barb7

How about Luckily! it was not allowed

August 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kant.spel

I think the phrase 'thank goodness' has become watered down from its original literal meaning, at least in common US practice. But i generally think of it as a grateful expression for having avoided some less desirable outcome. DL has used this expression, while the Italian phrase instead describes a personal evaluation of the situation. In any event, both phrase seem to describe a similar personal response to some situation. So, in short, could be worse!

September 5, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisOrlan7

Less bad haha

April 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_Karvan_

30 lingots wasted.

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rafest

I guessed "Thank goodness" and got it correct. There really isn't an equivalent expression in English.

Although I have heard people use the expression "Thank goodness for small miracles" which is a bit satirical and facetious giving it a similar connotation. I have also heard "There IS that" or "I'll take what I get". "Silver lining" or "just as well" might work in this context but they are mostly used when expressing the potential upside of a bad situation and is not always used in this same context.

February 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hunter6LA

American from the Deep South here... I don't think "silver lining" would be a good translation here. Silver lining indicates there's a bright spot in a bad thing that has already happened. As in "look at the bright side" or "look for the silver lining". Just "adding my two cents". =)

November 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kaens

After reading all the comments: is it actually "could be worse"?

March 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

no, scroll up and visit the sites provided. people are actually so relieved that they are happy and even celebrate, so the words don't match the context. Thank goodness actually works better for the context.

March 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Harrison_M

This is a perfect example of how Italian just flows off the tongue. Meno male!

December 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marina.MN

Thank you guys for the opinions, now I'm less confused about this translation

December 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NelaAl0

I think it should be "Lesser evil"

December 30, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichelleAd712181

What is the LITTERAL translatio ? Grazie.

January 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nicky4eyes

This translation as well as many others are not at all how they are used or even close to the actual translation. Meno male is more used as an oh well, not so bad, and the actual translation....less bad. But after spending 3 years there, it was never used as thank goodness, or thank god...ever. Come-on duolingo, you guys are fun to use, but slipping in your actual translations. Lately you are making me want to find new outlets.

April 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2168

Sorry, but do you really think that after 3 years in Italy you know Italian better than dictionaries and Italians themselves?

April 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nicky4eyes

Hmmm...I have always enjoyed the amount of positive constructive criticism that has been consciously followed on this platform. However yours is very harsh, sarcastic, and demeaning....not to mention very unhelpful. I have in no way implied that I know better then a dictionary, nor do I even know how to correctly pit myself against the entire Italian populous . Thus your remark was incredibly defensive.
This is what I do know....that in the past 3 years living in both Bologna and Levanto, that this phrase was not used in the manner in which Duolingo has deemed it correct. The, now 11, local Italians with in whom I have shown this curiosity to, have all agreed without any leading, to the notion that this is not how this phrase is used, in slang or not.
So, this leads me back to my original post, which indicates this phenomenon. Not to mention that it seems that the vast majority of all the posts toward this phrase are all in confusion. This is not the first time this has occurred with Duo, and it seems that there is a fair amount of gaps as to what is and is not actually used. If you have any constructive feed back, that would be great, and much appreciated. But your standing response is merely defensive and adds zero help....which is what this entire platform is all about....and that is a global fact....not effected by ethnicity. Your defensiveness makes me wonder if you are involved with Duo? If that being the case, would you not want to perhaps respond with something helpful, and at the very least, own that Duo is not perfect 100% of the time?

April 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2168

I do admit that I may have overreacted: however do realise that as an Italian it's equally if not more insulting to find someone, and not even a native speaker, trying to teach me Italian, and wrongly at that. Why are you bringing ethnicity into this? An Italian ethnicity doesn't even exist, we've been ruled by half Europe with the occasional Africans and Asians, pretty much everyone has mixed blood. Yes, I am a volunteer for Duolingo, but that doesn't have anything to do with it either: again, who are you to teach me my own language? There is no way I can help you if you don't bother reading the comments, checking a dictionary or trusting a native speaker. Just put a sample exchange to your Italian acquaintances: A: "È andato bene il viaggio?" B: "Sì" A: "Meno male".

April 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jacob858427

I say the english version of this all the time. When someone asks me "how are you doing today", i say "not too bad". Meaning, i'm doing good.

June 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2168

That's not the English version of this though. That in Italian is "non male".

June 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarcoPonce13

Maybe: "at least" could be a good translation

September 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Master_Katarn

... Comment Section TLDR: Conflicting views of how this phrase is to be translated correctly. Each side is backing up their statements and translations with valid sources and/or experiences.

It's treason then! BRING ME THE CORRECT TRANSLATION STRETCHER BEFORE I PISS MESELF

October 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichelleMc208450

Not so bad or not as bad depending on context would be a better english translation

October 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brittajanssen

Please, people, it really is the right translation. Just google it. For example: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/italian-english/meno-male- http://www.theflorentine.net/lifestyle/2006/07/meno-male/ http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/ricerca/Meno-male/ "meno male: (o manco male), per manifestare soddisfazione di cosa che è andata meglio di quanto si pensava"

February 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/J013

Every time I have heard my wife's family use this it was more like "It could be worse" or like "It was bad, but now it is less bad". Not sure if I have ever thought "Thank goodness" when they use it. I will have to listen and see if it makes sense in certain situations.

March 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stajduharc

I typed "just as well" and I got it right. It's the same in Spanish. Just as well = Menos mal.

July 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ivonne8a

It is exactly as in the spanish phrase "menos mal"

April 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Catherine81383

Could it be like in Swedish "bättre än inget" (better than nothing)?

April 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MandolinFace

In context, "Meno male!"seems more like the English phrase, "Not bad!"

July 31, 2019
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