Gli si stanno diventando freddi i piedi.

English Translation

He’s getting cold feet.

Is this an idiom in Italian, as it is in English?


No, it is not. I can’t think of an exact replacement.

“Farsela sotto” maybe? (Implying being so scared, you cannot control your bladder).

I understand “cold feet” as being nervous at taking some action.

“Farsela sotto/farsela addosso” implies more than nervousness, but it could be used in the same situation.

An example:

Giovanni si deve vaccinare ma se la fa sotto, e ritarda sempre l’appuntamento.


Another thing about this sentence: what’s the purpose of si?


I didn’t notice it at the first read. It is wrong to use “si” in this case.

I would either say “Gli stanno diventando freddi i piedi” or “gli si stanno raffreddando i piedi”.

“Si stanno raffreddando” is a conjugation of “raffreddarsi”, a reflexive verb, with the meaning of “to become cold”.

“Diventare” cannot be turned in a reflexive form.

Maybe I was too quick to say “diventare” can’t be reflexive. I have found a few examples where it is used reflexively in reverso:

The examples sound quite out of date anyway, they would be worded differently in contemporary Italian, in my opinion.

There is another kind of “si”, the impersonal si, which can be used with “diventare”, but in that case, you use the third person singular, like this:

“Quando si diventa vecchi, certe cose non si possono più fare” - “When you get old, you cannot do certain things (certain things cannot be done) anymore”.