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25 Italian Words that every foreigner should learn

25 Italian Words that every foreigner should learn

Photo: Topilskaya/Shutterstock

These 25 Italian Words will instantly make you understand the Italian culture much better, and no matter if you’re traveling or moving to Italy, these words in Italian will sure come in handy.

The younger generation generally speaks English, but not everyone is fluent, so it’s always a good idea to learn some basic Italian phrases. This will make your time in Italy more enjoyable, and you’ll surely be met with smiles and gratitude for trying to speak Italian. 

Further down in this article you can see a list of basic Italian words for everyday use, but first, let’s learn some essential words that Italians use frequently or have no equivalence in English. 


Let’s start with one of the most frequently used words in Italy. You’ll hear native Italians saying Allora several times a day, and it basically means “so” or “thus”.

Allora is often used before explaining something. It can also be used to get yourself more time to think about what you’re going to say.


Schifoso can be used to say that something is disgusting or gross. It’s one of the Italian words that a native speaker wouldn’t expect a foreigner to say, so it will instantly make your Italian friends burst into a laugh.

While saying Schifoso, you should also try to pronounce it extra strong to emphasize that something is really gross.  

Learn italian words

Photo: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock


Tanto is one of the ways to say “lots of” in Italian, and while it can take some time to master the correct emphasis when pronouncing it, Tanto will certainly help you on your way to becoming Italianized. 


Comunque can be used in various ways, but the most common usage is to say “anyway” or “in any case”. For example, you could say Grazie comunque to say “Thanks anyway” if someone can’t help you or answer your question.


Native Italians will use the word aspetta a lot, and it basically means “wait” or “hold on”. It’s one of those words in Italian that you’ll hear a lot but might have difficulty to understand unless you know the language. 


Magari can be tricky to understand as a foreigner because it has many different meanings. Magari is typically used as “even if”, “probably” or “maybe”. You can also use it as a reply if someone asks if you want something, and you desire it to happen, but aren’t sure it will. 


Cavolo can be used in quite many situations, and it basically means “What a load of cabbage!”. For example, you could say Che cavolo vuoi? which would translate to what the heck do you want?

It can also be used to express frustration or that you’re surprised by something. 


Boh literally means “Who knows” and it’s best used with some body language.


Photo: Jihan Nafiaa Zahri/Shutterstock


Dai or Daje is used to express “come on” and most Italians will use it in a shouting way. 


Furbo means that a person is clever, sly or crafty, but it has a bigger meaning than that. It usually implies that someone did something very clever that other people didn’t think about or dared to do.


If something is heavenly beautiful or too beautiful to even describe with words, just use the Italian word Mozzafiato, which basically mean that something is breathtaking or wonderful.

While saying Mozzafiato you should also add some body language where you look totally amazed.

Mamma Mia

In all movies featuring an Italian, they will at some point say “Mamma Mia” either when they get surprised or to express the equivalence of “Oh my god”.

It might seem stereotypical, but I can assure you that you will hear someone saying “Mamma Mia” every day. It’s one of many interesting facts about Italy and the Italian people.


This is a mix of Aperitivo and Cena (dinner) and it basically means “appetizer dinner” where you have some kind of buffet of small dishes along with drinks, such as Aperol Spritz.


Photo: davide bonaldo /


Salve is used as a greeting which is neither too formal or informal. It comes from Latin and means “be well”. Salve is associated with masculinity and is a more romantic/attractive way of saying hello.


Ospedale is the Italian word for hospital, and no matter if you’re a tourist or expat, this word might come in handy, although I hope that you don’t need to visit an “Ospedale” during your time in Italy. 


Passeggiata comes from the Italian verb Passeggiare, which means to stroll. It’s basically the Italian word for taking a promenade in the late afternoon or evening, and it often involves eating some gelato on your way. 

Che figata

Che figata is the Italian version of that’s awesome, and you use it to say that something is cool. It’s pronounced as Ke fi-GAH-tah.


Sticazzi means “So what?” or “No Way” depending on where in Italy you’re saying it. If you’re saying Sticazzi in Rome, they would interpret it as “so what?” and think that you’re being indifferent. 

Also, it’s worth mentioning that sticazzi is considered a bit vulgar.


Amore is the Italian word for love, and while you might have already heard this one, it’s still a word that every foreigner should learn before traveling to Italy. Ti Amo is the Italian phrase for I love you, which might come in handy if you fall in love with someone. 

Italian word for love

Photo: Vitalii Matokha/Shutterstock

Funny words in Italian

  • Gattara = Old Cat Lady
  • Pantofolaio = Couch potato
  • Guastafesta = Someone who’s spoiling the fun (Party pooper)
  • Culaccino = The mark left on a table by a cold glass
  • Merda! = Shit!
  • Leccaculo = Someone who kisses ass
Gattara is the italian word for old cat lady

Photo: Kagan Kaya /

Basic Italian words

Now that you have learned some more advanced Italian words, it’s time to get back to the basics. These basic words in Italian can be used almost every day by tourists and expats. 

English Italian
Hi Ciao (informal)
Hello Buongiorno (formal) during the day and Bonasera in the evening
Goodbye Arrivederci
Yes/No Si/No
Thank you Grazie
You’re welcome Prego
Big/small Grande/piccolo/-a
Good Bene
Bad Male
Morning Mattina
Afternoon Pomeriggio
Evening Sera
Natt Notte
Beautiful Bellissima/-o
Ugly Brutta/-o
Easy Facile
Difficult Difficile
Beer Birra
Coffee Caffè
Water Acqua
Wine Vino

Translate Italian words into English

Translating basic words in Italian is usually doable with Google Translate, which can be downloaded to your phone to use offline.

However, it’s not recommended to translate longer sentences because it’ll likely not turn out correct. 

Frequently Asked Questions about words in Italian

How many Italian words are there?

The Italian language has more than 450,000 words, and the largest dictionary has listed more than 270,000 italian words.

What are some Italian words for love?

Amore is the italian word for love. But you could also use lo affetto to describe your affection. 

What is the italian word for cheers?

The Italian word for cheers is Salute, meaning cheers or regards. You could also say Cin Cin (chin-chin) when you’re making a toast. 

What is the italian word for happiness?

The Italian word for happiness is la felicità.

Want to learn more essential Italian words? Leave a comment below!

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Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

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