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The "relationship" sense originated in proverbial sayings that directly compared such love to reheated cabbage (e.g. the rhyming amore ritornato e cavolo riscaldato, non fu mai buono (resumed love and reheated cabbage are not good)), which are attested since at least the 16th-century writings of Giulio Cesare Croce.


  • IPA(key): /ˈ ka.vo.lo ris.kalˈ, [ˈkäːvo̞l̺o r̺is̪käl̪ˈd̪äːt̪o̞]
  • Stress: càvolo riscaldàto


cavolo riscaldato m (plural cavoli riscaldati)

  1. (literally) reheated cabbage
    • 2010, Clara Coïsson, transl., Ognuno muore solo [Every Man Dies Alone], in Italian), Sellerio editore, translation of Jeder stirbt für sich allein by Hans Fallada, page 111, in Italian), :
      Lei tornò in cucina per scaldare degli avanzi di cavoli. Suo marito mangiava volentieri i cavoli riscaldati.
      She went back to the kitchen to heat up some leftover cabbage. Her husband usually ate reheated cabbage gladly.
  2. (figuratively) something old, outdated or obsolete displayed as if it were new
    • 1742, Giovanni Lami, “Dialogo primo”, in Dialoghi di Aniceto Nemesio [Aniceto Nemesio's Dialogues]‎[1], in Italian), page 53, in Italian), :
      Finiamola un poco con queſte digreſſioni una volta; e guardate o Maeſtro Ilarione, che a pag. 134 ritorna in iſcena il cavolo riſcaldato, dico Giuſeppe Averani
      Enough with these digressions already; and notice, o Master Ilarione, how on page 134 the reheated cabbage, namely Giuseppe Averani, comes back in the scene
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (figuratively, especially in the plural) a (doomed) attempt to reignite a failed relationship

Further readingEdit