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I am looking for an a English expression that conveys the idea of the Italian one “tutta casa e chiesa”, literally “all home and church”.

The saying is used to describe a girl who prefers to stay at home and just go to church (as opposed to go out and enjoy life with friends etc.). The saying hints at a supposed eccessive seriousness on the part of the girl, probably due to a strict education or cultural issues.

The saying is mainly used ironically, with a derogatory hint, to refer to girls who, on the contrary, just feel free to live as they like, no matter what people may think.

I have found a few suggestions such as “as holy as a nun” or “home-loving and church-going” which don't appear to be idiomatic and I don’t think they convey the original meaning.

Is there an English saying that comes close to the Italian one?

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  • It's unclear from the description whether your Italian saying is used to mean a homebody (derogative), or a carefree person (ironic), or the latter with a sense of disapproval also, or in which sense you want an idiom. The original expression, or the disapproval of a carefree person? Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 19:51
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    with a derogatory hint, to refer to girls who, on the contrary, just feel free to live as they like, no matter what people may think." The part in bold would be footloose and fancy-free in English, which is not how I would describe a young woman labelled as being "all home and church-going". Although I understand that the expression can be used facetiously I think the definition needs to be refined further, it's a little ambiguous for native speakers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 20:22
  • It might help to explain in more detail how you want it to be used. You talk about a derogatory term for people who're excessively serious, then say it's actually a derogatory term for people who're not serious - or is it used as a contrast for them? Maybe provide a detailed example and a sentence you want to use it in. Also, if it is used ironically or contrastively, do you want a phrase with the same meaning, or just a term of abuse for someone who doesn't go to church a lot? The clearer your question, the better the answer you'll get (you have made a lot of comments so add them above.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 23:11
  • Does “tutta casa e chiesa” mean the girl doesn't work? Or is she allowed also to have a career, just without the partying? Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 4:30

2 Answers 2

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As is often the case when translating, I don't think you'll find an easy fit with both meanings combined, but there are options that focus on "home" and on "church."

  • A homebody is someone who prefers staying at home to socializing or adventuring. It carries no religious connotation, but might be the closest to the Italian intent.

There are various epithets for someone heavily invested in their religious culture. Most focus more on religious fervor or holiness than on where the subject spends their time, though.

  • An altar boy might be not only someone who literally serves that role, but hyperbolically extended to indicate extreme piety
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch popularized the term "Church Lady"; this might be applicable especially to middle-aged women, though there is a much stronger emphasis on her judgmental tone than on her commitment to church activity.
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  • I do appreciate your effort, but none of the expressions you suggest fit the context.
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:58
  • @Gio Also as is often the case with such translations, a direct literal translation might be the best option (or paraphrasing to elaborate as needed): "You might invite Gina." "Gina? She lives her whole life at home and at church!" Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 19:01
  • I don’t think so. If you say to an Italian girl “are you all home and church”? she would most likely feel offended. And I am not looking for a translation (which does not exit) but a saying that conveys the same idea, if it exits in English.
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 19:07
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prim and proper

Someone who is prim and proper always behaves in the correct way and never breaks the rules of etiquette. usingenglish.com

Having very traditional, morally conservative beliefs and behavior. Farlex

Prudish, straight-laced Wiktionary


Another suggestion is

goody two-shoes / Goody Two-shoes

derogatory

An ostentatiously virtuous or well-behaved person. Lexico

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  • Thanks, but it appears that prim and proper has generally a positive connotation
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:45
  • I see Italian definitions with "anche iron.", (also ironically) which tallies with how I heard it the decades I lived in Italy.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:50
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    @Gio I think its use is more often negative. Even though the definition says "the correct way," it's typically used in a mildly disapproving or mocking way. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:52
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    "Prudish, straight-laced" aren't what you put on a dating profile -:)
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:53
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    I can't imagine "prim and proper" being used as a compliment by most people. "Prim" in particular is usually considered derogatory: Lexico uses the phrase "stiffly correct" which isn't good.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 23:07

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