02 September 2014


Bratislava Bronze Paparazzo.jpg

"Bratislava Bronze Paparazzo". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Paparazzi (plural) and paparazzo (singular) or sometimes paparazza comes from the Italian papaˈrattso. Today, we use the terms in English to describe photographers who take pictures of celebrities, usually while they are going about their everyday life.

Many paparazzi are freelancers who make their living by selling photos to news services. the more scandalous the photos, the more money they make.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence getting papped in New York City.

The word "paparazzi" as we use it now is an eponym, meaning it is taken from a name.  In the 1960 film La dolce vita directed by Federico Fellini there is a news photographer named Paparazzo.

Word and Phrase Origins: Definitions and Origins author Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini took the name from an Italian dialect word that describes the annoying noise of a buzzing mosquito.

Ennio Flaiano, co-writer of Fellini's La dolce vita, said that "paparazzo" in his Abruzzi dialect refers to a local clam and figuratively for the shutter sound of a camera.

Flaiano also said that he or Fellini had seen the name in an Italian translation of a travel narrative by George Gissing titled By the Ionian Sea: Notes of a Ramble in Southern Italy that one of the them was paging through on the set of La Dolce Vita. The character in the book was a hotel keeper.

Actress Anita Ekberg takes a bow & arrow to the paparazzi
outside her house in Rome, 1960 (by Marcello Geppetti)

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