The word filo (thread) derives from the Latin word filum, which is descended from a proto-intdeuropean word.

Filo properly means the product of spinning a fiber useful for weaving, sewing, embroidery. Hence the meaning of thin, elongated body; usually the word is specified by a complement or adjective: iron wire, telegraph wire, barbed wire. It follows that the word wire is used for everything that is, precisely, filiform.

These concrete meanings lead to the metaphorical nuances of the word, linked to three macro-categories of meaning: that of continuous and uninterrupted line; that of slight consistency, thinness, precariousness; that of interweaving. Reasoning from these, one can derive all the facets of the use of the word, from those that express a bond, to those that express a state of precariousness or ephemerality.

The semantic richness, especially of the figurative meanings of the word, is witnessed by the numerous idiomatic expressions related to the word filo. To give a few examples: camminare sopra un filo, dare/trovare del filo da torcere, essere attaccato/appeso/sospeso a un filo, essere legato a doppio filo, fare il filo, filo del discorso, filo di Arianna, imbrogliare i fili, per filo e per segno, perdere il filo, ridursi a un filo, essere/camminare sul filo del rasoio, tenere le fila, tirare le fila, parlare con un filo di voce.

The thread has always been, in fact, one of the metaphors that best expresses our existence (think of the myth of the Fates): the life of a person is an individual and uninterrupted existence until the moment of death, which is the extreme manifestation of our precariousness.
However, the aspect of intertwining should not be forgotten. The threads woven together to form a fabric are clearly stronger than the single fiber and so our life is ephemeral if not intertwined with that of others. At the same time, however, the interweaving with the other is not a fusion or a loss of the self because the individual existence remains strong and defined. It is not by chance, in fact, that the word thread is also linked to that metaphorical sphere of logical sense and control (logical thread).

The thread, therefore, is really perhaps the image that best expresses the coexistence of independence and interdependence, of individualism and collectivism in our lives. It is then up to each person, their own sensitivity, to evaluate which aspect is perceived as a priority, but the other end of the thread must never be forgotten.

Please leave us a word for your feeling of the thread.

Enrica Leydi

Born in Milan, she obtained a three-year degree in Modern Literature at the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna. She is currently completing her Master's degree in Italian Studies at the same university in Emilia. She has been collaborating with ISTUD since April 2021 as coordinator of the journal "Cronache di Sanità e Medicina Narrativa".

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jasmine Fernandez

    This unfolding of the word “filo” is interesting and a beautiful one.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.