Did anyone say to you “chi dorme non piglia pesci“?

Chi dorme non piglia pesci” is a super fun Italian idiom and it’s so popular that you might have already come across it…if you didn’t, you will!

Everyone knows it and use it widely, so it’s important to know what it means and be able to say it at the right moment.

This is an ancient idiomatic expression which refers to fishermen, who can’t sleep if they want to catch some fishes: the literal meaning is “he who sleeps, does not catch fishes”.

Therefore its meaning is that if you want to achieve something you have to make an effort, whist if you don’t do anything you won’t reach your goals. Also, it might refer to the fact that if you don’t pay attention or wait too long, you can miss important opportunities.

In English we would say “you snooze, you lose”, which has a very similar meaning.

Do you want to read some examples? Here we go!

Italian English
Marica lavora nella stessa azienda da dieci anni, ma non si è mai impegnata molto: alla fine, la sua nuova collega è stata promossa al posto suo. Chi dorme non piglia pesci! Marica has been working in the same company for ten years but she has never worked very hard: at the end, her new colleague has been promoted in her place. You snooze, you lose.
Antonio è una persona molto attiva, sempre alla ricerca di nuove opportunità. Lui dice sempre: “chi dorme non piglia pesci”! Antonio is a very active person, always looking for new opportunities. He always says: “you snooze, you lose”!
Patrizia voleva fare un’offerta per l’appartamento che ha visto il mese scorso, ma ha aspettato troppo e l’ha comprata un’altra persona. Chi dorme non piglia pesci! Patrizia wanted to make an offer for the flat she viewed last month, but she waited too long and another person bought it. You snooze, you lose!


What’s the last time that you missed a chance because you were too lazy to act? Or that you didn’t do enough to pursue your goals?

Try to describe that situation and use this new idiom!

If you want to learn other Italian idiomatic expressions, our Pinterest board is really fun!

Also, have a look at our online resources to go through grammar, quiz, idioms and much more.

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