Italian Slang – Learn Most Popular Slang Words In Italian

Mike Anderson

Italian slang

Italian, a language renowned for its artistry and elegance, also possesses a vibrant world of slang. In this article, we’ll delve into the captivating realm of Italian slang, introducing the topic and unraveling the cultural and linguistic significance of slang in Italy.

Slang, often described as the unofficial language of a culture, is a dynamic and ever-evolving facet of language. In Italy, where history, tradition, and regional diversity are paramount, slang adds another layer of richness to the linguistic tapestry. It reflects the daily lives, personalities, and distinct identities of various regions, offering insights into the nuances of Italian culture.

Understanding Italian common slang is not merely about learning a set of words and expressions; it’s about grasping the social dynamics and embracing the informal, colloquial side of the language. It’s a journey that uncovers the way Italians communicate with friends, family, and peers on a day-to-day basis. Join us as we explore the most popular Italian slang words, shedding light on the colorful and ever-fascinating world of informal Italian expressions.

Common Slang Words and Expressions In Italian

Italian slang is a vibrant and ever-changing aspect of the language, offering insights into the culture and the way people interact in informal settings. Let’s learn some of the most commonly used Italian slang words and phrases, providing phonetic pronunciations and translations for a better understanding of their meaning and usage.

Phrase English Translation
“Ciao” (chow) This ubiquitous Italian greeting means “hello” or “goodbye” and is widely used among friends and acquaintances.
“Mamma mia” (MAH-mah MEE-ah) An exclamation of surprise or disbelief, similar to saying “oh my goodness” or “wow.”
“Boh” (boh) A versatile term, akin to saying “I don’t know” or “who knows,” used when one is unsure or indifferent.
“Ragazzo/Ragazza” (rah-GAHTS-oh/rah-GAHTS-ah) These words mean “boy” and “girl” respectively and are often used to refer to a young man or woman.
“Figo/Fica” (FEE-go/FEE-kah) These slang words mean “cool” or “awesome” and can also be used to refer to an attractive person.
“Aperitivo” (ah-peh-ree-TEE-vo) A cherished Italian tradition, an aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink and snack, often enjoyed with friends.
“Prendere in giro” (PREHN-deh-ray een JEE-ro) This phrase means “to make fun of” or “to tease” someone in a friendly way.
“Sei uno/a stacanovista” (say OO-noh/ah stah-cah-NOH-vee-stah) This phrase refers to someone who works hard and is dedicated, akin to calling them a “workaholic.”

These common Italian slang words and expressions are essential for understanding informal conversations and immersing yourself in Italian culture. They add a layer of authenticity and local flavor to your language skills, reflecting the casual and friendly nature of interactions among Italians.

Italian slang phrases

Italian slang is a treasure trove of colorful expressions that reveal the essence of Italian culture and the way people communicate in informal settings. Let’s learn some intriguing Italian slang phrases, providing explanations to help you decipher the unique expressions used in everyday conversations.

Phrase English Translation
“Andare a puttane” (ahn-DAH-reh ah poo-TAH-neh) This phrase, literally meaning “to go to prostitutes,” is used colloquially to describe something that is a complete mess or chaotic.
“Avere le braccine corte” (ah-VEH-ray lay brah-CHEE-neh KOR-teh) Translating to “having short arms,” this phrase humorously implies that someone is stingy or reluctant to spend money.
“Dare il cinque” (DAH-ray eel CHEEN-kway) Literally meaning “to give the five,” this phrase describes giving someone a high five or a slap on the back to express approval or congratulations.
“Essere una chiavica” (ehs-SEH-ray OO-nah kyah-VEE-kah) This colorful expression describes someone who is overly talkative or chatty, often in a bothersome way.
“Mettere una pezza” (meh-TEH-ray OO-nah PETT-sah) Translating to “to put a patch,” this phrase refers to fixing a problem or making a temporary solution to a situation.
“Fare il pesce lesso” (FAH-ray eel PEH-sheh LEH-sso) Literally meaning “to make boiled fish,” this phrase describes someone who is boring or uninteresting in social situations.
“Essere in gamba” (ehs-SEH-ray een GAHM-bah) This phrase means “to be in good shape” or “to be sharp” and is used to compliment someone for their competence or cleverness.
“Avere una fifa terribile” (ah-VEH-ray OO-nah FEE-fah teh-REE-bee-leh) Translating to “to have terrible fear,” this phrase describes someone who is extremely scared or anxious.

These Italian slang phrases reveal the creativity and humor of the language, adding depth and authenticity to conversations. While some may be regional or specific to certain groups, they offer a glimpse into the lively and colorful world of Italian expressions.

Funny Italian Slang

Italian slang is not only rich in colorful expressions but can also be highly humorous. Here, we present a list of funny Italian slang words and phrases, along with their translations, to give you a taste of the wit and playfulness that characterizes informal Italian conversations. Let’s learn them together!

Phrase English Translation
“Cacare il palo” (KAH-kah-ray eel PAH-lo) Translating to “to poop the pole,” this whimsical phrase describes someone who is being evasive or avoiding responsibility.
“Avere le braccine corte” (ah-VEH-ray lay brah-CHEE-neh KOR-teh) Meaning “to have short arms,” this humorous expression refers to someone who is tight with their money.
“Prendere un granchio” (PREHN-deh-ray oon GRAHN-kee-oh) Literally translating to “to catch a crab,” this phrase is used to describe someone who makes a mistake, often in a comical way.
“Avere sale in zucca” (ah-VEH-ray SAH-leh een ZOOK-kah) Meaning “to have salt in the pumpkin,” this phrase suggests that someone is smart, sharp, or witty.
“Metterci una pietra sopra” (meh-TEHR-chee OO-nah PYEH-trah SOH-prah) Translating to “to put a stone on it,” this expression is used when someone wants to move on from an issue or forget about it.
“Fare il pesce lesso” (FAH-ray eel PEH-sheh LEH-sso) Literally meaning “to make boiled fish,” this phrase playfully describes someone who is dull or uninteresting.
“Essere un pappone” (ehs-SEH-ray oon pahp-POH-neh) This term refers to someone who enjoys eating heartily and is used humorously to describe someone who loves food.
“Avere le mani bucate” (ah-VEH-ray lay MAH-nee BOO-kah-tay) Meaning “to have holes in one’s hands,” this phrase is used to describe someone who is financially irresponsible or spends money quickly.

These funny Italian sentences and expressions capture the lighthearted and playful side of the language, reflecting the wit and humor of the Italian people. They add a touch of laughter to informal conversations, making them even more engaging and enjoyable.

Italian Internet Slang

On the slang Italian speaking internet, a unique array of slang phrases and words has emerged, reflecting the language’s cultural nuances and online communication trends. Let’s explore some of the Italian internet slang phrases and words commonly used by online communities, providing insight into how digital conversations are evolving in the Italian-speaking world.

Abbreviation/Phrase English Translation
“ASAP” (as soon as possible) Like in English, “ASAP” is used to indicate urgency or a need for prompt action in online discussions.
“Cmq” (comunque) This abbreviation of “comunque,” meaning “anyway” or “however,” is frequently used to streamline typing in Italian internet conversations.
“LOL” (ridere ad alta voce) Instead of “laughing out loud,” Italians often use “LOL” as an acronym for “ridere ad alta voce,” meaning “laughing out loud.”
“OMG” (Oh mio dio) In Italian internet slang, “OMG” stands for “Oh mio dio,” mirroring its English usage to express surprise or shock.
“Sto crepando dal ridere” (I’m dying of laughter) This phrase is used when something is incredibly funny, much like saying “I’m cracking up” in English.
“Figa” (cool/attractive) Originally a slang term for “vagina,” “figa” has taken on a new meaning in Italian internet slang, referring to something that’s cool or attractive.
“Nabbo” (clueless or naive person) This term is often used to describe someone who lacks knowledge or is easily fooled.
“In bocca al lupo” (in the mouth of the wolf) This phrase is an Italian way of saying “good luck” in online conversations, with the response being “crepi il lupo” (may the wolf die).
“Basta” (enough/stop) “Basta” is used online to signify that something is excessive or it’s time to stop a particular behavior or conversation.
“Perfetto” (perfect) In Italian internet slang, “perfetto” is commonly used to express approval, agreement, or understanding.

Italian internet slang is an evolving language, blending elements of traditional Italian with the needs and expressions of the digital world. Understanding these phrases can enhance your communication with Italian-speaking online communities and provide insight into the contemporary language trends within the culture.

Youth Slang vs. Regional Variations In Italian

Italian slang, like any language, isn’t a static entity; it evolves, adapts, and diversifies across different demographics and regions. In this section, we’ll explore how Italian slang can vary among different age groups, with a particular focus on youth slang, and how regional differences play a significant role in shaping these linguistic variations.

Youth Slang in Italy:

Youth slang, or “giovane slang” in Italian, represents the language of a younger generation. As with many languages, Italian youth slang is a playground of creativity, humor, and rapid change. It often incorporates popular culture, social media, and technology-related terms. For example:

Italian Slang Phrase English Translation
“Selfie” (selfie) The same slang phrase as in American slang, “selfie” is widely used by Italian youth to describe a self-portrait photo taken with a smartphone.
“Stalker” (stalker) This slang phrase is borrowed from English, and it refers to someone who obsessively follows others’ social media profiles.
“Insta” (Insta) A shortened version of “Instagram,” used as both a noun and a verb to describe the popular photo-sharing platform.
“FOMO” (fear of missing out) Just like in English, “FOMO” is used to describe the fear of missing exciting events or experiences.

Regional Variations:

Italian is known for its rich regional diversity, and this extends to slang. Different regions of Italy have their own unique expressions and words that may not be widely understood outside of their local communities. For instance:

  • In Milan, “figa” is used in slang to mean “cool” or “great,” while in other regions, it retains its more traditional meaning related to the female anatomy.
  • In Naples, the word “cafona” is used to describe someone who is unsophisticated or tacky, whereas in other regions, this term may not have the same connotation.
  • In Sicily, “muzzaredda” is slang phrase for a fight or dispute, whereas this term might not be recognized in other parts of Italy.
  • Sardinia has a unique dialect with its own slang words, like “ragatzone” for “young guy” or “stai frore” for “stay outside.”

Italian regional variations extend to youth slang as well. Young people in different regions may have their own local phrases and slang that reflect their culture and identity.

Understanding these distinctions between youth slang and regional variations is crucial for anyone looking to learn and engage in informal conversations with Italians. It reveals the intricate and ever-changing nature of the Italian language, with nuances that reflect the diversity and dynamism of Italian society.

What Are Some Old Slang Words In Italian?

Italian, like any language, has evolved over time, and some slang words that were once popular have become less common or even archaic. These “old” slang words, often referred to as “vecchia slang,” offer a glimpse into the linguistic history of Italy. Here are a few examples:

Italian Slang Phrase English Translation
“Baluba” (bah-LOO-bah) In the past, “baluba” was used in Italian slang to mean a chaotic or confusing situation, much like the English “chaos” or “pandemonium.”
“Gobbo” (GOH-boh) This Italian phrase means “hunchback,” and the slang expression describes someone who was sneaky or deceitful, comparing them to the hunched posture of a hunchback.
“Bischero” (bee-SKEH-ro) Historically, “bischero” was used to refer to someone who was gullible or easily fooled, similar to the English “dupe.”
“Lurido” (loo-REE-doh) In older slang, “lurido” meant “dirty” or “filthy,” and it was used to describe something unclean or unsavory.
“Bassetto” (bahs-SET-toh) This slang phrase, originating from “basso” (short), was used to refer to someone of short stature.
“Zozzo” (DZOT-so) Much like “lurido,” “zozzo” was used to describe something as “dirty” or “unclean.”
“Babbuino” (bahb-BWEE-no) Historically, “babbuino” meant “baboon” and was sometimes used in slang to describe someone who was foolish or acting in a silly manner.

While these old Italian words have become less common in contemporary language, they offer a fascinating glimpse into the way people used to communicate and express themselves in Italy’s linguistic past. They reflect the cultural, social, and historical context of their time, highlighting how language is an ever-evolving entity that mirrors the society it serves.

How To Learn Italian Slang?

Learning just one Italian slang phrase can be a fun and engaging way to dive deeper into the language and culture. Here are some tips and tricks to help you learn Italian slang without Italian lessons and use it in a sentence:

  1. Immerse Yourself in Italian Media: Learn by watching Italian movies, TV shows, and listening to Italian music and radio. These sources often feature authentic slang expressions used in real-life contexts.
  2. Training with Native Speakers: Learn and engage with Italian native speakers, either in person or online through language exchange platforms. Conversing with Italians allows you to pick up slang naturally.
  3. Use Language Learning Apps: Many language learning apps, such as Babbel or Duolingo, include sections on slang and colloquial language. Explore these sections to familiarize yourself with slang terms.
  4. Read Italian Literature and Blogs: Learn from books, blogs, and online forums written by Italians. They can provide insights into contemporary slang. Pay attention to how authors and bloggers use language in informal contexts and how they are using different slang words in a sentence.
  5. Slang Dictionaries: There are slang dictionaries and online resources that focus on Italian slang and they definitely help you learn. These references can be valuable for learning and expanding your slang vocabulary.
  6. Social Media and Forums: Participate in Italian-language forums, chat rooms, and social media groups. Engaging in online discussions allows you to witness how Italians use slang in modern digital interactions.
  7. Stay Updated: Slang evolves rapidly, so it’s essential to stay updated on the latest expressions. Follow Italian pop culture and trends to keep current with popular slang.
  8. Experiment and Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to experiment with slang words, also be open to asking questions if you don’t understand something. Native speakers are usually happy to explain or clarify and help you learn.
  9. Respect Regional Differences: Recognize that slang can vary by region in Italy. What’s slang in Rome might not be the same in Milan or Sicily. Be open to learn regional variations.
  10. Keep a Slang Journal: Create a slang journal where you record new slang words and phrases you encounter. Note their meanings and contexts, which can help reinforce your understanding.

To learn Italian slang is like unlocking a secret language within the language. It adds depth to your linguistic repertoire and allows you to engage more authentically with Italian speakers. Plus, it’s an enjoyable way to explore the culture, humor, and dynamics of everyday Italian life.


Italian slang is a dynamic and colorful facet of the language, offering a fascinating window into the culture and expressions of the Italian people. This article has explored various aspects of Italian slang for you to learn, from contemporary internet jargon to old, forgotten expressions. The key takeaways from this journey through Italian slang are both illuminating and enriching:

  • Italian slang is a living, evolving language within a language, reflecting the ever-changing dynamics of Italian society.
  • Understanding and learning Italian phrases is crucial for those seeking to engage authentically with Italians, whether in everyday conversations, online interactions, or in various regional contexts.
  • Youth slang, regional variations, and historical slang reveal the depth and diversity of Italian expressions, reflecting Italy’s cultural richness.
  • Learning Italian slang is a delightful and rewarding experience, offering a more profound connection to the language and culture.

In embracing Italian slang, you learn and unlock the door to a vibrant, often humorous, and sometimes mysterious world of expressions. It’s a linguistic treasure trove that allows you to connect on a deeper level with Italians and appreciate their rich cultural tapestry. Learning Italian slang isn’t just about words; it’s about understanding the essence of a people, their humor, their regional pride, and their ever-evolving language. So, dive into this world of Italian slang, and you’ll find your appreciation of the Italian language and culture deepening in ways you never imagined.