Word: UmarellThe men who stare at construction sites.

Word: UmarellThe men who stare at construction sites.

  • Words Annick Weber
  • Photograph Salva López / La Manufacture

Etymology: A neologism for a not-so-new concept, umarell refers to an older man who spends his days inspecting the work in progress at construction sites. The word was coined in 2005 by Danilo Masotti, an Italian writer, and is a distortion of umarèl, meaning “old man” in Bolognese dialect. Since it describes what is traditionally a group phenomenon, it’s important to know that the correct plural is the Anglicized form umarells, not the standard Italian plural umarelli. This is to help simplify the use of the word in languages other than Italian. 

 Meaning: You see them from about 8 a.m. on town squares, sidewalks or street corners, peeking through construction site fencing to catch a glimpse of what’s happening on the other side. By 10 a.m., a small crowd has usually gathere...

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