“IN BOCCA AL LUPO”. Ever since my friend Vito Tanzi taught me the phrase during exam period some fifty years ago, I have, where appropriate, used the phrase “in bocca al lupo” to wish somebody good luck. The phrase literally means “in the mouth of the wolf”. The TLS recently published a review of a novel by Adam Foulds entitled IN THE WOLF’S MOUTH. George Malko had an interesting letter of comment about “in bocca al lupo” in the February 28 TLS. He points out that: “The proper reply is ‘crepi il lupo’, which means ‘may the wolf croak.'”
I also learned from Mr. Malko’s letter that an alternative Italian good luck wish is “in culo alla balena”, which literally means “up the whale’s ass”.