beautiful italian words

16 Beautiful Italian Words You Should Add to Your Vocabulary

Every language has its beautiful words, but Italian takes the cannoli.

Listening to someone speaking Italian is like listening to a song. It’s a language of love, emotion and passion.

You can capture this beauty in your own Italian speech by learning some of the many musical words in the language.

In this post, I’ll show you 16 of my absolute favorite beautiful Italian words, plus pointers on how to use them!

Contents

1. Azzurro  (Blue)

How do you describe the sky on the most beautiful days? Azzurro. Quite possibly the most beautiful word for a color in any language, azzurro is the Italian word for “blue.” Just saying the word can bring to mind a bright, sunny day.

The double z makes a ts sound, much like in pizza (one of the best Italian foods!) and the double r lets you practice rolling them.

2. Cucchiaio (Spoon)

This fun-to-say word is one to pull out when you order soup. Cucchiaio is the Italian word for “spoon.” It may look like an intimidating word, but it’s easy once you know the rules!

The first c comes before a u, meaning it’s a “hard c” and it has a k sound. A c (or in this case, two) followed by an h is also hard.

To break this word down phonetically, you would say “kooky-i-o” with emphasis on the i.

Not so intimidating now, is it?

3. Basta (Enough, stop it)

A great exclamation for when you’re frustrated, basta is an Italian word for “enough” or “stop it!” A shortened version of the word abbastanza, which also means “enough,” basta is the word you use when you’re done dealing with something.

Whether you’ve added just the right amount of ingredients to a recipe, or you’ve reached the end of your patience, basta is the word to say (or yell!) to put a stop to something.

Basta is easy to pronounce because it’s just like pasta! Just say it with a little more vigor and you’ll be spot on.

4. Allora (So, well, then)

When you need a transition word, chances are the word you’re looking for is allora. Whether you want to say “so,” “well” or “then,” it’s the go-to for just about any filler word. Used on its own, allora can convey annoyance or impatience. It can also signify time, such as “then,” or “at the time.”

The great thing is that when you need a second to think, your allora can be stretched out a little. You can hold the long, rounded o for a beat or two, and when you’ve finally brought your next word to the tip of the tongue, you can finish with a soft rolled r and a short ah.

5. Arrabbiato (Angry)

It’s always great when a word sounds like its meaning. Much like the harsh, rolled, double r suggests, arrabbiato means “angry” in Italian.

Does it sound familiar? That’s because spicy pasta sauce is referred to as arrabbiata ! It’s a lot more fun eating spicy pasta knowing they call it “angry!”

6. Scarpetta (Bread used for soaking up sauce)

Food is an important part of Italian culture, so it’s no surprise that some of their beautiful words would pertain to food. Scarpetta is the bread that’s used to sop up the last morsels of a delicious sauce. It comes from the phrase fare la scarpetta, meaning “to make a little shoe.” This refers to the shape of the bread when it scoops up the sauce.

Scarpetta is another word that helps you practice short r rolls, which are referred to as a “flap.” It’s very similar to pronouncing a d in English. Follow that with a brief eh sound and a strong stop with the double t and you’ll sound like a local in no time.

Just remember, you only fai la scarpetta once you’ve finished your pasta!

7. Culaccino (The ring made by a glass of cold liquid)

Many languages have words for complex situations that English doesn’t have. Culaccino is a perfect example of this. This is the single word Italians use to describe the ring left on a table from the condensation of a cold glass.

Just like cucchiaio, this word starts with a hard c. Unlike cucchiaio however, the last c comes before an i, giving it a soft, ch pronunciation. Think of how you would say cappuccino !

8. Meriggiare (To rest at noon in the shade)

It’s midday, the heat of the day is at its highest and you find yourself seeking a nice spot of shade to relax in and escape the harsh sun.

Another example of a complex situation boiled down to one word, this entire scenario is the meaning of the verb meriggiare. In Italy, most shopkeepers close during lunchtime, because loro meriggiano (they’re resting)!

This is one of the easier words on the list to pronounce, despite the double soft r rolls! Remember, Italian is a phonetic language, so this word is pronounced the same way that it’s spelled!

9. Mozzafiato (Breathtaking)

The perfect word for the first time you see Italian scenery, mozzafiato means “breathtaking.”

Literally, mozzafiato means to cut off one’s breath. This is a good one to know when you go to Italy, as you’ll find most of the landscapes and scenery to be mozzafiato !

This word is another phonetically simple one. Most English speakers will associated mozza with cheese. It has the same ts sound from the double z as pizza. Fiato has a long a, giving it an ah sound. The t is the same as is used in English, except without an aspiration (that little breath you let out when speaking hard English consonants).

10. Struggimento (Yearning)

For such a beautiful word, struggimento has an artistically tragic meaning. The short translation is “yearning,” but it’s really more akin to a harrowing mix of sadness and yearning.

Another word whose definition seems to match its sound, struggimento sounds beautifully sad when said aloud. Combining the t and rolled r can be a bit of a stumbling block, but with practice, you’ll be able to say them together seamlessly.

Once you tackle that trick, you’re golden! The rest of the word is said phonetically: “ooh,” “gee” and “mento.” With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to articulate this complicated feeling more easily than you can explain it!

11. Abbiocco (Food coma)

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling that this word describes, especially if you’ve just had an Italian meal. 

Abbiocco describes that drowsy, sleepy feeling that you get after eating a lot of food. Although this word is uniquely Italian, it does compare to an English “food coma.”

12. Zanzara (Mosquito)

This word may sound pretty, but its meaning is not so charming. 

zanzara is a mosquito! 

13. Bellissima / Bellissimo (Beautiful)

The word that means “beautiful” in Italian is beautiful itself! You’ve likely heard this one before as it’s very common, but it rolls off the tongue so smoothly that I think it’s one of the prettiest Italian words out there!

14. Arrangiarsi (Make ends meet)

This one has a distinct ring to it, but its meaning may not always be so graceful.

Arrangiarsi means to arrange yourself or to make things work. Another way to put it is “making ends meet.” 

In other words, things may not be easy, but you’re managing to get through it.

15. Menefreghista (Person who doesn’t care)

This distinctly Italian word sounds a little spunky itself, which is fitting since it refers to someone who simply doesn’t care.

This one could be seen as good or bad. Someone might have this attitude and be praised for their indifference to what other people think, but it could also be interpreted as someone being too lazy to care.

16. Spaghettata  (Spaghetti party)

Of course the language associated with culinary excellence is bound to have some special food-related words, and this one might just be my favorite!

spaghettata is a spaghetti party! You can spontaneously invite your friends over for a night-long affair of eating pasta and drinking wine!

This word may also sometimes be used to refer to the leftover pasta that you toss together to assuage your appetite after returning from a night out. 

Resources to Practice Italian Pronunciation

Italian is a phonetic language that can be easy to master once you learn the rules. However, while some of the pronunciations are simple and familiar to English speakers, some will feel strange or difficult to utter.

For example, it’s easy enough to learn when a c should have a hard k sound (cuore/heart) or a ch sound (ciotola/bowl). Some Italian pronunciations you may already know, like the double z in pizza! (Most double consonants in Italian are pronounced with the same sounds as single consonants, just more forcefully!)

But not every sound is that easy. Sounds like gli (moglie/wife), gn (agnello/lamb) and the rolled r (marrone/brown) can take a lot of practice and patience to master.

So where can you learn proper pronunciations for Italian words?

Italian TV shows and movies or English programs with dubbed Italian audio are great for hearing proper pronunciations and repeating them. Italian music is also a fun way to practice. Learning to sing along with some great Italian songs will help you nail your pronunciations and even expand your vocabulary!

There are endless online resources for practicing your pronunciation. Most commonly used is YouTube, where you’ll find many different channels dedicated to learning, practicing or listening to Italian.

A virtual immersion platform is another option. FluentU, for example, takes authentic short videos in Italian and adds interactive subtitles that allow you to look up unfamiliar words instantly, hear how they’re pronounced, and add them to a multimedia flashcard deck.

It helps when you hear a new Italian word to try and pronounce it immediately after. Some language learning resources, like Pimsleur, are particularly focused on learning to speak a language by repeating what you hear.

Focus on whatever learning method seems to help you most. If you enjoy your Italian pronunciation practice, you’re more likely to keep at it!

The Italian language is magical. It flows like a song. This list is just a small sample of the beautiful words Italian has to offer. With pronunciation practice, in no time you’ll be saying these words (and all kinds of other beautiful Italian words) like a local!

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