italian slang words

15 Italian Slang Words and Phrases You’ve Gotta Know

Do you want to learn how to speak Italian like a true native? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. shares 15 common Italian slang words and phrases to help you communicate better in Italian…

In the United States, there are hundreds of slang words and phrases people use to communicate with one another. For example, phrases like “I’m beat,” “chill out,” and “epic fail” are commonly used in conversation.

Like Americans, native Italians use slang words and phrases to quickly communicate their emotions and actions. Although they might not be grammatically correct, theses words and phrases are commonly used to explain all types of situations in everyday life.

Below are some of my favorite Italian slang words and phrases. Practice these words with your Italian teacher or friends and you’ll soon be speaking like a true native!

1. Mettersi insieme

The equivalent of the American phrase “to tie the knot,” “mettersi insieme” means to begin a serious relationship with someone.

2. Mollare qualcuno

Ouch! Italians use this phrase when dumping their significant other. It’s roughly translated to mean “letting go” or “releasing someone free.”

3. Essere nelle nuvole

Italians use this phrase to describe someone who has his or her head in the clouds or someone who’s constantly daydreaming.

4. Ricco sfondato

This Italian slang phrase is used to describe someone who’s rich. The phrase literally means “rolling in money.”

5. Veloce come un razzo

Similar to the American phrase,”fast as lightning,” “veloce come un razzo” means something or someone is as fast as a rocket.

6. Amore a prima vista

Was it “love at first sight,” or as they say in Italy “amore a prima vista,” when you met your Italian crush while visiting abroad?

7. Alito puzzolente

Ew! You may need to use this Italian slang phrase to notify someone who has “bad breath.”

8. Guastafesta

What we know in America as a “Debbie downer,” the Italian slang word, “Gusastafesta,” is someone who’s a spoiler or someone who ruins the party.

9. Basta, Basta

When your friend is annoying you, shout “basta, basta” as this means “enough is enough.”

10. I Malano miau!

Are you shocked about what happened on last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? Use this phrase to express shock or amazement.

11. Non fai scumbari

When your Italian grandmother won’t stop embarrassing you, simply say “Non fai scumbari” or “Stop embarrassing me/don’t embarrass me.”

12. Pisolino

This Italian slang word means “afternoon nap,” which are very common in Italy.

13. Gufare

If you or someone else is experiencing bad luck, use the Italian slang word, “gufare.”

14. Dai!

Similar to the American saying “Come on,” “Dai” is used when you want someone to tag along or do something. It can also be used to say “stop it.”

15. Boh

The equivalent of the American phrase “I dunno,” “Boh” is a quick way to say if you’re being indecisive.

I hope you have enjoyed learning these Italian slang words. If you want to make sure that your using these Italian slang words appropriately, you can practice speaking with a native or your Italian teacher.

The more you use these Italian slang words and phrases in conversation, the better you will become at speaking Italian.

Related: Learn fun and interesting facts about Italy.

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!

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6 replies
  1. maria minney
    maria minney says:

    The article is funny and interesting. However, #10 and 11 are dialect expressions and they are not well known in every part of Italy. I grew up in Italy and, personally, I never heard of either one. The #12 is not “pizzolino”, but pisolino and in the central part of Italy it is also called “pennichella”.

    • Martina
      Martina says:

      Scumbare must be dialect but I have no clue what it means, gufare is a very informal word (verb) which approximately translates to “to wish bad luck on someone”


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