Whether you’ve been studying Italian for years or are currently mastering the art of “my name is,” these 10 expressions are an essential addition to any vocabulary. You won’t find them in Italian books, but you’ll hear them all over the streets. Understanding this Italian slang will give you a huge boost in comprehension. Using this Italian slang will make you much more fun to talk to. So enjoy some of this funny Italian slang and phrases. Also don’t worry you’ll find some Italian swear words in the mix, so that should cover most of your curiosity
1. Che palle! (keh PAL-leh)
Literally balls in Italian, and translated word for word as, “What balls!” it’s the short and sweet equivalent to “What a pain in the ass!” Tack it onto the end of any annoying activity for added emphasis: “We have to climb all those stairs? Che palle!” or mumble this Italian slang for balls under your breath when someone causes you general agitation: “Put a scarf on or you’ll get pneumonia!” Che palle.
2. Che figata (keh fee-GAH-tah)
An adventure in Italy done right will leave you with plenty of chances to use and hear, “What a cool thing!”. Best translation is cool in Italian. I met an Italian soccer player today! “Che figata!” We learned how to make handmade pasta! “Che figata!” “It’s official. Prada wants to hire me!” “Che figata!”
3. Figurati! (Fee-GUH-rah-tee)
No worries in Italian, “Don’t worry about it!” or “It’s nothing!” Just like in English, you can use it when you really mean it: “Thank you so much for the great meal!” “Figurati!” Or to be nice when you really don’t: “I’m sorry I spilled red wine on your brand new, white 500€ Gucci shirt.” “…Figurati!”
4. Mi fa cagare! (mee fah cah-GAH-reh)
Italian slang insults take expressing discontent to a whole new level with the descriptive “It makes me poop,” (HA) leaving us English speakers in the dust with our 1 million times less dramatic and funny, “It’s awful.” “That restaurant? Mi fa cagare!” “His tight shirt? Mi fa cagare!” “American coffee? Mi fa cagare!”
5. Che schifo! (keh SKEE-foh)
“How disgusting!” Here are some likely scenarios you will encounter in Italy, just waiting for a “che schifo.” The people sitting next to you on the bench think they’re in their bedroom: “Che schifo!” A pigeon poops on your head: “Che schifo!” You see a 70 year-old man hitting on a 19 year-old girl: “Che schifo!”
6. Dai! (dahyee)
With a pronunciation not unlike a drawn out English “die,” it may sound initially off-putting as you hear it shouted between sweet Italian children and little old ladies. But “dai” just means “Come on!” as in, “Please, oblige me.” Use it when someone refuses: “Let’s go to Sicily.” “No.” “Dai!” Or to push someone to do something: “One more shot of limoncello, dai!” It can also be similar to “stop it!” Someone’s stealing bites of your gelato? Knock them in line with a “dai!”
7. Meno Male! (MEH-noh MAH-leh)
Its translation means “less bad,” but it’s used like, “Thank God!” or after oh my god in Italian, So you can say: “Fiorentina won? Meno male!” “I passed the test? Meno male!” You can also literally say “Thank God!” which is “Grazie a Dio!” (GRAHT-see-eh ah DEE-oh!). Just make sure you get the “a” in there. Even though it feels more natural to say “Grazie, Dio,” that leaves you speaking directly to God: “Thanks, God!”
8. Magari! (mah-GAHR-ee!)
The Italian counterpart to “I wish!” “Let’s hope!” or “Maybe!” When someone asks you if you plan on coming back to Italy, marrying an Italian and living in a villa in the Tuscan countryside, you can respond with “Magari!” (because of course you do). “Magari” is also great for playing it cool with the opposite sex: “Will we ever see each other again?” “Magari!”
9. Basta! (BAH-stah!)
“Enough!” “That’s it!” Use it to stop the fruit vendor from filling your bag with 20 extra oranges: Basta, basta! Add it to the end of your order: “Una pizza e basta” Or shout it to the people singing songs at 4 a.m. outside your apartment window: “BASTA!”
10. Ma, che sei grullo?
(Mah, keh sehyee GROO-loh?)
A uniquely Florentine expression, it literally means, “But, how silly/stupid are you?” It’s most similar to “Are you joking?” or “Are you crazy?” in English. You’ll overhear it in restaurants: “I’ll get the check.” “Ma, che sei grullo?” On the bus: “Take that seat. I’ll stand.” “Ma, che sei grullo?” And, at the markets: “100€ for that wallet? Ma, che sei grullo?” Test it out with your Florentine friends to surprise them with your miraculous knowledge of their dialect. Save it with strangers, as it could be offensive until you’ve got handle on it.
What are some slang expressions you’ve learned in Italy? Leave us a comment, dai!
…or rented one of our student apartments in Florence that don’t fanno cagare!
(Article by Whitney Richelle)
What is the Italian word for chicken?
Pollo is the literal word, and guess what, it doesn’t only mean tasty chicken to eat. But it can also be used to make fun of one of your friends, let’s say you want to say they’re being a bit sill, you call them a Pollo. Keep in mind that it isn’t pronounced with the Spanish LL sound, it’s pol-lo. That’s the best way to answer your “How do you say chicken?” questions.
What is Mutadel in Italian?
Mutadel is an American-Italian word that means Mortadella, also known as Bologna. Guess what it’s also my favorite cold cut, but when it’s got pistachio in it, not black pepper.
Che cosa meaning?
Che Cosa is gonna be something you hear quite often. Actually, you’ll probably hear Cosa? more than Che Cosa? It literally means What? A good measure to know how well you’ve learned your Italian is how many times do Italians ask you Cosa? after you’ve ordered something
What is nothing in Italian?
Nothing is one of those words that is used in so many contexts right? What’s wrong? Nothing. What do you want? Nothing. So, how are you going to translate that when you’re in Italy. How are you going to let people know you don’t want anything? Just drop a Niente.