Since we are living in the Italian speaking canton of Switzerland, we are learning the language, including Italian Words That Don’t Exist In English!
As with any language, Italian has lots of unique and beautiful words that cannot be fully translated into English. These words often represent a particular cultural concept or way of life, and their absence in English highlights the differences between the two cultures. Our post highlights just a few Italian words (and phases!) that don’t have a direct equivalent in English.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Italy or just want to improve your Italian language more with non-English translated words, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our list:
Italian Words That Don’t Exist In English
Dolce far niente – “sweet doing nothings” feeling that combines leisure, idleness and lazyness.
Menefreghista – A person that doesn’t care
Apericena – a combination of aperitivo (appetiser) and cena (dinner). Commonly used in Milan!
Pennichella – a nap you take in the afternoon, after eating lunch!
Menefreghista – from the expression “Non me ne frega” (“I don’t care”), used when a person shows indifference towards the thing being discussed. It is always used with a derogatory tone.
Scarpetta – translates to “little shoe”, used when you want to scoop up the leftover sauce from your plate with a piece of bread
Abbiocco – that sleepy feeling after a big meal. Such as being in a “food-coma” in English.
Gattara – an elderly person who lives with a lot of cats (gatti)
Boh – its an expression, which is like “i don’t know” and “no clue” in English
Ferragosto – This word refers to the traditional Italian holiday celebrated on August 15th that marks the start of the summer vacation period.
Buon appetito – used when to wish someone a good meal before they start. Such as the French bon appétit.
Pantofolaio – used to describe someone who lounges a lot at home
Cornuto – having horns, desibing word to someone who is being cheated on
Colpo d’aria – to be hit by the wind. Used in the form that if you are not dressed with a scarf or woolly vest for warmth, you could be hit by the wind which results in getting sick.
Spaghettata – a quick spaghetti dish, with a late night get-together to eat quick with friends at the end of a night out
Mammoni – This word describes a grown man who still lives with his mother and relies heavily on her for emotional and financial support. A “mummy’s boy” in Engish.
Magari – translated as “maybe”, but it can be used to express a desire for something like the English expression “I wish”.
Al dente – translated as “to the tooth”, refers to pasta that is cooked to perfection, when its still firm when bitten
Baffona – a woman with a moustache
Porco dio – translated as “god of a pig/spine”, expression for extreme rage and frustration
If it’s meant to be , it’s going to be – “se son rose, fioriranno” is they are roses, they will blossom.
Buon proseguimento – uniquely Italian greeting meaning “good luck with / enjoy whatever you are in the middle of doing” be it a job, activity, trip, or meal.
For more Italian Content, check here:
Campione D’Italia: An Italian Village Surrounded By Switzerland
Our Experience on The Simplon Car Train
The Centovalli Railway Scenic Panoramic Train Journey
Menaggio Italy: A Pretty Pitstop On Lake Como
These are just a few examples of the many unique words and Italian phrases in the Italian language that don’t have a direct equivalent in English. Each word represents a small piece of Italian culture and offers insight into the nuances of the language and the people who speak it.
Which words or phrases do you like the most? Or do you know more!? Let us know in the comments!
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