Looking to learn some beautiful Italian words? You got it.
The Main Lingua Junkie will go ahead put some in your brain.
Beautiful Italian words and phrases like… “to look for the hair in the egg,” “my mom,” and much more.
So, keep reading on below.
1. Mamma mia!
- Meaning: My goodness!/Oh my God!
- Pronunciation: “mah-mah mee-ah”
There is no better way to start our list of beautiful Italian words and phrases than with “Mamma mia!” You likely heard of it, right? Literally, “Mamma mia!” means “my mom.” But, you would use it to express wonder, surprise, joy, pain, etc. It is used everywhere. “Mamma mia!:” Don’t you love the way it sounds?
- Meaning: I don’t know!/I have no idea
- Pronunciation: “boh”
“Boh!” Is a simple and quick way of letting the other person know that you don’t know the answer to their question. You don’t even have to put a sentence together; all you need to do is say “Boh!” If someone asks you what the population of Europe is and you don’t know it, you can simply say: “Boh!” It’s easy and fun to say.
3. In bocca al lupo!
- Meaning: Good luck!
- Pronunciation: “eehn boh-kah ahl loo-poh”
Literally, it means “in the mouth of the wolf.” However, this common Italian expression is used when you want to wish someone good luck; for example, when someone is about to take an important exam. The literal meaning does not make much sense. However, if you ever find yourself in the mouth of a wolf you will definitely need good luck to get out!
4. Non avere peli sulla lingua
- Meaning: to be straightforward and blunt
- Pronunciation: “non ah-veh-reh peh-lee soo-lah leen-gwah”
It literally means “to have no hair on the tongue.” It is used to describe people who are very blunt and direct. If you have no hair on your tongue you have nothing to stop you from speaking your mind and being straightforward.
- Meaning: someone who loves staying home/couch potato
- Pronunciation: “pahn-toh-foh-lah-yoh/ pahn-toh-foh-lah-yah”
Pantofolaio (masc) or pantofolaia (fem) literally means slipper wearer. You use this term to refer to someone who doesn’t go out much and loves staying home. The word comes from “pantofole” which means “slippers.” The ending “-aio/a” is generally used for professions. The term therefore means someone who wears slippers for a living, or by profession.
- Meaning: Darn!/Wow!
- Pronunciation: “cah-voh-loh”
This is a very common Italian expression. The word literally translates to “cabbage,” however, it actually means “Darn!” If you miss your train, you might say “Cavolo!” The expression is also used when you are surprised about something. If someone tells you they won the lottery, you may also say “Cavolo!” In this case, it means, “wow!”
7. Acqua in bocca!
- Meaning: to keep something to yourself
- Pronunciation: “ah-kwah een boh-kah”
Literally it means “water in the mouth,” however you use this phrase to tell someone to keep something to themselves. Whenever there’s something you know you shouldn’t say and you’re just dying to say it, imagine your mouth full of water. That will sure help you to keep your thoughts to yourself.
8. Sei sveglio!/Sei sveglia!
- Meaning: You are smart!
- Pronunciation: “say svehl-yoh/say svehl-yah”
“Sei sveglio!” (masc) or “Sei sveglia!” (fem) literally means “you are awake.” However, it is an expression used when you want to compliment someone for being smart. It is important to note that this is an informal expression.
- Meaning: You’re very much welcome!/Don’t worry about it!/Don’t mention it!
- Pronunciation: “fee-goo-rah-tee”
Literally, this expression comes from the word “figurare,” which means “to imagine or picture.” However, if you hear this expression after someone says “Grazie!” (“Thank you!”), then it means “you’re welcome!” or “don’t worry about it.”
10. Fa un freddo cane!
- Meaning: it’s really cold!/it’s freezing cold!
- Pronunciation: “fah oon freh-doh kah-neh”
This funny expression literally translates to “it’s dog cold!” The term dog is actually used as an adjective instead of a noun. It means that it’s freezing cold. This is not a self-explanatory expression at all. After all, why would you associate the freezing cold with one of the most adorable creatures on earth? However, if you want to sound Italian, you should definitely use this expression.
- Meaning: cool!
- Pronunciation: “fee-goh”
This is a very important expression to know. It is used like the English word “cool!” Doesn’t it sound beautiful to the ear? It is easy to pronounce and it sounds nice!
12. Essere disponibile
- Meaning: to always be willing to help
- Pronunciation: “eh-seh-reh dees-poh-nee-bee-leh”
When translated literally, this means “to be available.” However, it is used to refer to someone who is always willing to help.
13. Sogni d’oro
- Meaning: sweet dreams
- Pronunciation: “soh-nyi doh-roh”
The literal translation is “dreams of gold” or “golden dreams.” Isn’t this a beautiful way of wishing someone the sweetest dreams?
14. Non vedo l’ora
- Meaning: I can’t wait
- Pronunciation: “non veh-doh loh-rah”
Italians use this phrase when they are impatient and excited about something. Literally, it translates to “I don’t see the hour” but it really means “I can’t wait.”
15. Cercare il pelo nell’uovo
- Meaning: to nitpick, to look for the minor and unimportant fault in a situation
- Pronunciation: “Chehr-kah-reh eel peh-loh nehl-woh-voh”
The literal translation is “to look for the hair in the egg.” However, the expression means “to nitpick.” When everything seems to be ok and you’re still looking for that unimportant error that will allow you to criticize something. The expression is quite logical, since it is very unlikely that you will find hair on an egg.
16. L’abito non fa il monaco
- Meaning: don’t judge people by their appearance/things are not always what they seem
- Pronunciation: “lah-bee-toh non fah eel moh-nah-koh”
It translates to “clothes do not make the monk.” Just because you see a man dressed like a monk, it doesn’t mean he is one. In English, it translates to “clothes don’t make the man” or “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
Conclusion — Back to You
Now you know some beautiful Italian words and expressions.
Which one was your favorite? Leave a comment.
Also, if you want to learn and speak even more Italian, here’s a 3-minute Italian audio lesson that’ll teach you how to say “Italian Greetings.”
- 3-Minute Lesson #2 – Greetings
- Free Lesson by ItalianPod101.com – click here for more free audio lessons.
– The Main Lingua Junkie