What language is spoken in Italy? 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. Before starting this small journey, you may want to know get informations about what language is spoken in Italy.

italian slang
Italian Slang, “Che palle!” (What a pain in the ass!) on a car towing sign

Slang for Italian: 10 Useful Expressions & Words you can’t miss

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!”

Italian slang
You made manicotti by hand? 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!”

Italian word
“Sorry I partied too hard at carnival.”

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!”

italian slang
Wine in a juicebox? 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!

Making Ricotta Cheese By Hand
That’s how you make fresh ricotta cheese? 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!”

Tiramisu Fiesole near Florence Italy
DAI! Get your own tiramisu!

 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!”

twitter conversation meno male

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!”

Chianti Vineyard Italy Tuscany
Magari I lived on a vineyard in Chianti!

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!”

Italian word
Basta with the PDA already! We get it; Italy is romantic. No reminders necessary 😉

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.

Italian swear words
€6.50 for peanut butter in Italy? Ma, che sei grullo?

What are some slang expressions you’ve learned in Italy? Leave us a comment, dai!

And it would be a figata if you’d follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

…or rented one of our student apartments in Florence that don’t fanno cagare!

(Article by Whitney Richelle)

Extra slang

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.


  1. Don’t know how to spell it, but it sounds like- “why-own” my mom would call me it and me and my brother her “why-owns” anyone know what it means in Italian or dialect or slang? My Grandparents were off the boat and spoke Italian and English. My mom was first generation American and understood more than she spoke.

  2. What is the slang/sarcastic term when you tell someone sure sure, yes, you’re right you’re right?Basically just yessing them.

  3. anyone know of a slang word that sounds like Peacherita? maybe Pecarita? used as an affectionate name for a woman or a girl?

    • Guaglione [Why-ylo] is neapolitan. It’s a term used amongst locals and it’s like saying Ragazzo, dude, guy, fella, kiddo etc.

      Guagliona [Why-ylona] is the feminine form same general meaning : chick, babe, lady, kiddo, dudette…

    • Fatti cazzi tuoi means mind your own f#&king business. Be aware how you use this. Between friends it’s said jokingly but could really piss off someone you don’t know well.

  4. When I was a kid, my mother and my aunties would tell me that I had no sal in gab (spelling?). The literal meaning in Napoletano dialect was ‘salt in the head’. The implication was common sense. Do you know this phrase and how it is spelled in Napoletano?

  5. If you hear “lei e’ figa” or “lei e’ una figa”, there is no “coolness” in it, it means that she is a “beautiful” hot girl. Period.

  6. Murtadel, not mutadel. With an R. And “Ma che? Sei grullo?” it’s fine only if you are in tuscany, anywhere else it’s not used at all. We have a lot of different slang expressions here. Have fun with italian!

  7. I should’ve added, that the term frocia (woman) is an insult. For a man frocio also insulting. Roman dialect. I should know, LOL, I’m from Rome.

  8. Joan
    March 6, 2021 at 7:48 pm
    Has anyone heard a word “frozia” (fro-sha?)— of course not sure of the spelling. I remember my GM and mom using this word I believe referring to ” a big mess” or “a confusing situation.” Any help??

    Besides the standard Italian every region speaks its own dialect, probably the word you’re referring to is Sicilian, the “froscia” is a typical Sicilian dish.
    I don’t actually know if it has a double meaning since I’m not Sicilian but for example I can tell you that in my dialect “burdell” means “brothel” but also “messy place; messy”

  9. Has anyone heard a word “frozia” (fro-sha?)— of course not sure of the spelling. I remember my GM and mom using this word I believe referring to ” a big mess” or “a confusing situation.” Any help??

  10. What does the word shashana mean in Italian, Sicilian? My father used to insult me with that word. What does it mean please??

    • Joe Lupica, the word I think you are looking for is the word “rimbambito” (Rim-bum-beat-oh). I . It means an Idiot. I have heard Sicilians use it the most, I’m not sure if it is proper Italian or dialect.
      People having bad pronunciation might shorten the Rimbambito to Ombambito, just like y’all means you all.

  11. my elderly Italian father in law said, his father would call him “whylo” or something, meaning boy or son. are you familiar with this?

    • “Guaglio'” yeah my dad still calls me that when he’s trying to get my attention, or even just when I pick up the phone sometimes! 😂😂

    • Erica, the word you might be looking for is pronounced like “WUL-YO-LO” which means a young boy.
      “WUL” (WU as in “wonder”or the name “Walid”) YO (as in “your”) & LO (as in “Law”)
      It is used more in southern Italy. If it is said to a stranger it is like using the word “Lad”, like saying “come here lad”. But saying it to your son is more demeaning, so your father might say it to you when he’s upset.

    • This was so fun to read! 😀
      I’m 1st generation American, my mom and her family were from Abruzzi, my GM lived with us growing up. They definitely spoke a dialect from their area (as I learned when I took Italiano in high school & college). I was trying to find the expression they used for a small baby or toddler girl with a pigtail or 2 on the top of her head. I have no idea how to spell it, but I’ll give it a shot. La tupet. (phonetically: lah two-pete) Has anyone else heard that expression? If so, do you have any background on it? Grazie mille!

      • I agree! This is so fun to read! My family is from Abruzzi as well and my mom used to refer to la tupetta (sorry spelling) too! I knew exactly what you were referring to with your phonetic spelling. My mom, GM and relatives always used it when talking about a bun-style hair-do like the bun was la tupetta… that’s all the background I have and maybe not helpful at all!

    • No. 2 was confusing for me for a long time. “Fig-O” just means “cool.” “Fig-A” means 1) slang for a “hot” or “cool” girl 2) The feminine version of “figo” (a cool thing)  3) female genitalia. So, if you say “Lei è figa!” It means, “She’s cool!”  If you say, “Quella borsa è figa!” It means, “That purse is cool!” If you hear someone talking about “LA figa” that’s a different, and more vulgar, story.

      • Depends on where you are in Italy.
        Actually, in Florence if someone says ‘sei una bella fica’ it’s a complement like saying ‘you’re hot! ‘. The double play on words is part of linguistic ‘color’ and not ‘vulgar’.


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