A family including parents, grandparents, and children together in a modern kitchen

Family in Italian: 107 Italian Family Words to Make Your Nonna Proud

The word for family in Italian is la famiglia .

If you’re learning the Italian language, you’re also learning about the culture behind it, and family is a very important aspect of Italian culture.

In this post, we’re going to learn some vocabulary about the different members of the family in Italian—from your loving nonni (grandparents) to your marito (husband) or moglie (wife).


Immediate Family Members

Immediate family members include parents, siblings, spouses and children. Some of the phrases used to refer to these family members include parenti stretti (lit. “tight relatives”), parenti prossimi (lit. “close relatives”) and parenti di primo grado (lit. “first-degree relatives”)

Italian Words for “Father”

There are many ways to refer to your father in Italian. For example,  babbo is mostly used in Tuscany and other central regions of Italy, such as Umbria. In regions of northern and southern Italy it’s more common to say and hear papà

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
father padre padri
father (informal) babbo babbi
father (informal) papà papà
father (informal) papi papi
father (informal) papino papini

Italian Words for “Mother”

If you’ve grown up eating the most delicious food, and you haven’t been allowed to go out on a Saturday night because of unspeakable dangers, you’ve probably grown up with a loving mother—and a very Italian one, at that.

Mothers are such an important part of the family. In fact, there’s even an Italian term for “mama’s boys”—grown-up men who find it hard to leave the nest and still opt to live with their parents: mammoni   (plural) or  mammone (singular).

There’s no one quite like your mother. In Italy, they even have a saying:

Amor di madre, amore senza limiti. (A mother’s love has no limits.)

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
mother madre madri
mother (informal) mammolina mammoline
mother (informal) mamma mamme
mother (informal) mammina mammine

Italian Words for Siblings

If you’ve ever had a sibling, you know they can be both protective and loving (and, okay, maybe a little annoying).

But when you grow up, you’ll find that, no matter what your differences were in your younger years, they can be great friends!

Also, if you belong to a stereotypically large Italian family (and make no mistake: Italian families tend to be smaller these days), you’ll also want to know how to refer to your siblings according to their birth order.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
big brother fratello maggiore (formal)
fratellone (colloquial)
big sister sorella maggiore (formal)
sorellona (colloquial)
brother fratello fratelli
sister sorella sorelle
eldest/firstborn (male) primogenito primogeniti
eldest/firstborn (female) primogenita primogenite
little brother fratellino fratellini
little sister sorellina sorelline
middle child di mezzo di mezzo
second-born (male) secondogenito secondogeniti
second-born (female) secondogenita secondogenite
third-born (male) terzogenito terzogeniti
third-born (female) terzogenita terzogenite
fourth-born (male) quartogenito quartogeniti
fourth-born (female) quartogenita quartogenite
fifth-born (male) quintogenito quintogeniti
fifth-born (female) quintogenita quintogenite
last-born (male) ultimo nato ultimi nati
last-born (female) ultima nata ultime nate
twin brother gemello gemelli
twin sister gemella gemelle

Italian Words for Children

Quick pronunciation note: The g here is silent. When you have gli in Italian, you pronounce it as a double l or ll. So figlio is pronounced “fee-llyo,” and figlia is pronounced “fee-llya”—with the letter g nowhere to be heard.

Sons and daughters are coddled in childhood, with the family unit (and its extension) specifically geared to raising them properly. In return, the kids are expected to show respect to elders.

As testament to the importance of family in the Italian culture, you’ll find plenty of sayings about it used by native speakers, such as:

Tale padre, tale figlio.  (like father, like son)

Tale madre, tale figlia.  (like mother, like daughter) 

There are many different words you can use to say “baby” in Italian, depending on different factors such as the region of Italy and the age of the child. 

Bebè  and  neonato   are often used to say “baby” or “newborn” in Italian.  Bimbo (baby boy/little boy) and  bimba (baby girl/little girl) are often used for infants up until the age of around 3 years old, although this may vary depending on the region of Italy.

You can also use  bambino or  bambina . This is most commonly used for slightly older children, rather than babies.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
child (gender-neutral) bambino bambini
son figlio figli
daughter figlia figlie
baby (male) bimbo bimbi
baby (female) bimba bimbe

Italian Words for Spouses / Partners / Sweethearts / Marital Status

It used to be that  fidanzato and  fidanzata only referred to people who were set to be married. But over time, their use has extended to simple boyfriend-girlfriend relationships.

As well as fidanzato and fidanzata, you may also hear the terms  ragazzo (boy) and  ragazza (girl) which can also be used to convey boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. You say:

il mio ragazzo — my boyfriend

la mia ragazza — my girlfriend

It’s worth, however, noting that ragazzo and ragazza are mostly used in Italian by teenagers and young adults in a relationship. It’s more common to hear adults in long-term relationships use fidanzato and fidanzata.

You may also hear adults say  compagno and  compagna , which are used in Italian to say “partner,” for example, when you’re an adult and you’re not legally married to your other half.

By the way, if you’re looking for ways to say “I love you” to your significant other, check out this post.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
bachelor celibe celibi
unmarried (female) nubile nubili
single (male) libero
non impegnato
single (female) libera
non impegnata
divorced (male) divorziato divorziati
divorced (female) divorziata divorziate
engaged (male) fidanzato fidanzati
engaged (female) fidanzata fidanzate
married (male) coniugato coniugati
married (female) coniugata coniugate
husband marito mariti
wife moglie mogli
widower vedovo vedovi
widow vedova vedove

Extended Family Members

Extended family members include uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and grandchildren.

Uncles and Aunts

If you change the letter z to the letter t, you have the Spanish equivalent of “uncle” and “aunt”—tío and tía ( zio and  zia in Italian). The more you study these languages, the more you’ll notice the great overlap between them, since Spanish and Italian are both descended from Latin

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
uncle zio zii
uncle (informal) zietto zietti
aunt zia zie
aunt (informal) zietta ziette


For Italian families, Sunday is family day. Everybody’s there—at somebody’s house—bringing all the different types of food.

You’re likely to also see  i cugini (the cousins) at the family gathering.

Also, note that the words for “nephew” and “niece” are the same as the ones for “grandson” and “granddaughter,” respectively.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
cousin (male) cugino cugini
cousin (female) cugina cugine
first-degree cousin cugino di primo grado cugini di primo grado
little cousin (male) cuginetto cuginetti
little cousin (female) cuginetta cuginette
nipote nipoti
nephew (informal)
grandson (informal)
nipotino nipotini
niece (informal)
granddaughter (informal)
nipotina nipotine


In Italian culture, raising the kids of the family is treated with the utmost importance and everybody chips in. 

It’s very common in Italian families for the grandparents to have an active role in raising the grandchildren. Especially these days when both husband and wife are out working, nonno might very well be left with the kids.

In Italy, they believe that  “Guai a quella famiglia che non ha vecchi.” (A family with no elderly is a doomed family.)

This really speaks to the richness of wisdom and experience that elders bring, as well as the life gems they can impart to the next generation.

And because grandpa and grandma,  i nonni (the grandparents), love to spoil the children, the little ones often adore them.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
grandfather nonno nonni
grandfather (paternal) avo *
*can also refer to ancestors
avi *
*can also refer to ancestors
grandmother nonna nonne
grandmother (paternal) ava *
*can also refer to ancestors
ave *
*can also refer to ancestors


When you get married, your in-laws become an important part of the family. For Italians, a marriage doesn’t divide a family. Quite the opposite, actually: marriage extends or expands a family.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
father-in-law suocero suoceri
mother-in-law suocera suocere
brother-in-law cognato cognati
sister-in-law cognata cognate
son-in-law genero generi
cousin-in-law cugino acquisito cugini acquisiti
daughter-in-law nuora nuore


Italian is generally a language where words are pronounced just as they’re spelled. There are, of course, some exceptions.

For example,  patrigno and  matrigna has that gn consonant combination. We don’t pronounce the g here. Instead, the gn combination is pronounced as an ny.

So patrigno is pronounced “patree-nyo” and matrigna is pronounced “matree-nya.”

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
stepfather patrigno patrigni
stepmother matrigna matrigne
stepbrother fratellastro fratellastri
stepsister sorellastra sorellastre

Adopted Family Members

Of course, family members don’t only include those related to you by blood. Here are Italian family words used to refer to those who’ve been adopted into la famiglia.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
adoption adozione adozioni
adoptive parents genitori adottivo genitori adottivi
adopted child adottato adottati
adoptive father padre adottivo padri adottivi
adoptive mother madre adottiva madri adottive
adopted son figlio adottivo figli adottivi
adopted daughter figlia adottiva figlie adottive
adopted brother fratello adottivo fratelli adottivi
adopted sister sorella adottiva sorelle adottive
adopted grandson or adopted nephew nipote adottivo nipoti adottivi
adopted granddaughter or adopted niece nipote adottiva nipoti adottive

Other Family Members

When you’re in a family reunion, the last thing you want is an awkward moment where you’ll go: “Yes, that person over there is my… Uh, what’s the Italian word for ‘distant relative’ again?” So here are more words to describe family members (living or otherwise) who don’t quite fit into the other categories just mentioned.

English TranslationItalian SingularItalian Plural
relative parente parenti
distant relative lontano parente lontani parenti
distant male cousins cugino lontano cugini lontani
distant female cousins cugina lontana cugine lontane
godfather padrino padrini
godmother madrina madrine
great-grandfather bisnonno bisnonni
great-grandmother bisnonna bisnonne
second cousin cugino di secondo grado cugini di secondo grado
third cousin cugino di terzo grado cugini di terzo grado
fourth cousin cugino di quarto grado cugini di quarto grado
great-grandchild pronipote pronipoti
great-grandchild (paternal) bisnipote bisnipoti
great-great-grandfather trisavolo trisavoli
great-great-grandmother trisavola trisavole
great-great-grandchild trisnipote trisnipoti

So there you go! You now know what to call your family in Italian.

The best way to master these words will be to use them and see them used by native speakers. You want to use the terminology correctly and respectfully, after all. 

If there are any local Italian speakers around you can speak or listen to, then practice with them. If there aren’t any around, you can still be on the lookout for family vocabulary whenever you consume Italian media, like books, TV shows, movies, podcasts and more.

You can also practice with language learning programs that show the words in context.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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Soon enough, you’ll be fitting right in with the famiglia

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