Italian slang words & phrases

37 Essential Italian Slang Words & Expressions (2023)

In this blog post, we’ll share 37 essential Italian slang words and expressions to help you fit in when chatting with native speakers. Get ready to unleash your inner Italian!

If you’re learning Italian or just interested in the language, you’re in for a treat. One of the best ways to truly connect with Italian culture and speak like a local is by using Italian slang words and expressions.

Master the Italian language and blend in with locals by learning these key slang words and expressions, grouped by topics like everyday Italian slang, common verbs and adjectives, food and drink, and more.

Everyday Italian Slang Words & Expressions

a group of friends in Italy

Dive into the world of everyday Italian slang words, perfect for casual conversations and making new friends in Italy.

Boh – I don’t know

Example: “Dove sono le chiavi?” “Boh!”
Translation: “Where are the keys?” “I don’t know!”
Italians often use “boh” as a casual way to say “I don’t know” in an informal setting.

Figurati – Don’t mention it / You’re welcome

Example: “Grazie per il tuo aiuto!” “Figurati!”
Translation: “Thanks for your help!” “You’re welcome!”
“Figurati” is a friendly response to someone’s gratitude, similar to “don’t mention it” or “you’re welcome” in English.

Magari – I wish / If only

Example: “Domani sarà una giornata di sole.” “Magari!”
Translation: “Tomorrow will be a sunny day.” “I wish!”
“Magari” is a versatile word used to express a wish or a hope for something to happen.

Meno male – Thank goodness

Example: “Meno male che sei arrivato in tempo.”
Translation: “Thank goodness you arrived on time.”
“Meno male” expresses relief or gratitude for a positive outcome in a situation.

Che figo – How cool

Example: “Che figo il tuo nuovo telefono.”
Translation: “How cool is your new phone.”
“Che figo” is a colloquial expression used to describe something cool or impressive.

Che palle! – What a drag!

Example: “Devo studiare tutto il weekend.” “Che palle!”
Translation: “I have to study all weekend.” “What a drag!”
“Che palle!” is a slang expression expressing annoyance or frustration with a situation.

Che schifo – How disgusting

Example: “Che schifo, questo cibo è andato a male!”
Translation: “How disgusting, this food has gone bad!”
“Che schifo” is used to express disgust or displeasure about something.

Che cavolo – What the heck?

Example: “Che cavolo stai facendo?”
Translation: “What the heck are you doing?”
“Che cavolo” is a mild expression of surprise or annoyance, similar to “what the heck” in English.

Italian Expressions for Emotions and Feelings

Italian slang words for emotions and feelings

Essere al settimo cielo – To be on cloud nine

Example: “Dopo aver vinto il concorso, ero al settimo cielo.”
Translation: “After winning the contest, I was on cloud nine.”
“Essere al settimo cielo” is an expression used to describe extreme happiness or elation.

Non vedo l’ora! – I can’t wait!

Example: “Non vedo l’ora di partire per le vacanze!”
Translation: “I can’t wait to go on vacation!”
“Non vedo l’ora” expresses anticipation and excitement about a future event.

Cuore mio – My heart

Example: “Cuore mio, ti amo!”
Translation: “My heart, I love you!”
“Cuore mio” is a term of endearment used to express affection or love, similar to “my heart” or “my love” in English.

Fare la corte – To court

Example: “Mario sta facendo la corte a Giulia da mesi.”
Translation: “Mario has been courting Giulia for months.”
“Fare la corte” refers to the act of trying to win someone’s affection or love, similar to “courting” or “wooing” in English.

Colpo di fulmine – Love at first sight

Example: “Per me e Lucia è stato un colpo di fulmine.”
Translation: “For Lucia and me, it was love at first sight.”
“Colpo di fulmine” is a romantic expression used to describe an instant and strong attraction to someone, akin to “love at first sight” in English.

Fare il tifo – To root for

Example: “Faccio il tifo per la squadra di calcio italiana!”
Translation: “I’m rooting for the Italian soccer team!”
“Fare il tifo” means to support or cheer for someone, often used in the context of sports.

Saltare di gioia – To jump for joy

Example: “Quando ho saputo la notizia, ho saltato di gioia.”
Translation: “When I heard the news, I jumped for joy.”
“Saltare di gioia” is an expression used to describe an exuberant display of happiness.

In bocca al lupo – Good luck

Example: “In bocca al lupo per l’esame!”
Translation: “Good luck with your exam!”
“In bocca al lupo” is an idiomatic expression to wish someone good luck.

Essere incavolato – To be angry

Example: “Mio fratello è incavolato perché ho perso il suo libro.”
Translation: “My brother is angry because I lost his book.”
“Essere incavolato” is a colloquial expression for being angry or upset.

Mannaggia – Darn it!

Example: “Mannaggia, ho dimenticato il mio portafoglio a casa!”
Translation: “Darn it, I forgot my wallet at home!”
“Mannaggia” is a mild expression of frustration or annoyance.

Prendere un granchio – To make a blunder

Example: “Ho preso un granchio invitando entrambi i miei ex alla festa.”
Translation: “I made a blunder by inviting both of my exes to the party.”
“Prendere un granchio” is an idiomatic expression used to describe making a significant mistake or error.

Rompere le scatole – Translation: To annoy / To bother

Example: “Smettila di rompermi le scatole con le tue lamentele!”
Translation: “Stop annoying me with your complaints!”
“Rompere le scatole” is a colloquial expression for bothering or annoying someone, similar to “getting on someone’s nerves” in English.

Essere in confidenza – To be close / To be on friendly terms

Example: “Siamo in confidenza, mi puoi chiamare Luca.”
Translation: “We’re close, you can call me Luca.”
“Essere in confidenza” refers to being on friendly terms or having a close relationship with someone.

Cascasse il mondo – Come hell or high water

Example: “Cascasse il mondo, finirò questo progetto entro stasera.”
Translation: “Come hell or high water, I’ll finish this project by tonight.”
“Cascasse il mondo” is an idiomatic expression that emphasizes determination or commitment, similar to “come hell or high water” in English.

Parentado – In-laws

Example: “Il mio parentado arriva domani per il pranzo.”
Translation: “My in-laws are coming tomorrow for lunch.”
“Parentado” is a colloquial term for one’s in-laws or extended family.

Italian Slang Words & Expressions Related to Food and Drink

slang expressions related to food

Abbuffata – Feast

Example: “Ieri sera abbiamo fatto un’abbuffata di pizza.”
Translation: “Last night we had a pizza feast.”
“Abbuffata” refers to indulging in large quantities of food, often during a special occasion or a celebration.

Gnam gnam – Yummy

Example: “Questa pasta è proprio gnam gnam!”
Translation: “This pasta is really yummy!”
“Gnam gnam” is an informal expression that describes delicious food, similar to “yummy” in English.

Bere un’ombra – To have a glass of wine

Example: “Andiamo a bere un’ombra?”
Translation: “Shall we have a glass of wine?”
“Bere un’ombra” is a Venetian expression for drinking, particularly a glass of wine.

Apericena – Aperitif dinner

Example: “Stasera facciamo apericena?”
Translation: “Shall we have an aperitif dinner tonight?”
“Apericena” combines an aperitif and a light dinner, often including finger foods and drinks.

Bicchiere della staffa – One for the road

Example: “Prima di andare, prendiamo un bicchiere della staffa.”
Translation: “Before we leave, let’s have one for the road.”
“Bicchiere della staffa” is a phrase used to describe having a final drink before departing.

Italian Slang Words & Phrases for Work and Money

business people in Italy

Lavoro saltuario – Casual work

Example: “Durante l’estate, faccio lavoro saltuario come cameriere.”
Translation: “During the summer, I do casual work as a waiter.”
“Lavoro saltuario” refers to temporary or irregular work, often part-time or on a contract basis.

Mettersi in proprio – To set up one’s own business

Example: “Dopo anni di lavoro per altri, ho deciso di mettermi in proprio.”
Translation: “After years of working for others, I decided to set up my own business.”
“Mettersi in proprio” is an expression used when someone decides to start their own business or become self-employed.

Essere al verde – To be broke

Example: “Non posso venire al cinema, sono al verde.”
Translation: “I can’t go to the movies; I’m broke.”
“Essere al verde” is a colloquial expression for not having any money.

Fregatura – Rip-off

Example: “Quel ristorante è una fregatura, i prezzi sono altissimi.”
Translation: “That restaurant is a rip-off. The prices are sky-high.”
“Fregatura” refers to something that is overpriced or not worth the money.

Fare il ponte – To take a long weekend

Example: “Questo fine settimana farò il ponte e andrò al mare.”
Translation: “I’ll take a long weekend this time and go to the beach.”
“Fare il ponte” is used when someone takes an extra day off to create a longer weekend, usually by connecting a holiday and the weekend.

Tirare avanti – To get by / To make ends meet

Example: “Con questo stipendio, riesco a malapena a tirare avanti.”
Translation: “With this salary, I can barely make ends meet.”
“Tirare avanti” refers to managing or surviving financially, often in difficult circumstances.

Ricevere un salasso – To be charged an arm and a leg

Example: “Quel negozio mi ha fatto un salasso per una semplice maglietta.”
Translation: “That store charged me an arm and a leg for a simple T-shirt.”
“Fare il salasso” is a colloquial expression for charging excessively high prices.

Mettere da parte – To save up / To put aside

Example: “Sto mettendo da parte i soldi per comprare una nuova macchina.”
Translation: “I’m saving up to buy a new car.”
“Mettere da parte” means to save money or set it aside for a specific purpose.

Fare un affare – To strike a bargain / To get a good deal

Example: “Ho comprato questa borsa a metà prezzo, ho fatto un affare!”
Translation: “I bought this bag at half price, I got a great deal!”
“Fare un affare” is an expression used to describe getting a good deal or making a favorable transaction.

Now that you’re armed with these 37 essential Italian slang words and expressions, you’re well on your way to speaking like a true Italian. Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to use these phrases when chatting with native speakers. Buona fortuna, and happy learning!

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