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Hello in Italian: 60+ Italian Greetings

“Hello” is one of the most important words to learn in any language and often the first word used in any situation, from informal to formal encounters.

However, like in English, there are many different ways to say “hello” in Italian, depending on factors such as the time of day and levels of formality.

In this post, we’ll share 60+ Italian greetings, so you’ll know how to say “hello” and “how are you?” in any situation!

Contents

How to Say “Hello” in Italian

Ciao

This one doubles as both “hello” and “goodbye,” and you’re probably already familiar with it.

The origins of ciao are found in the Venetian dialect, deriving from s-ciao or s-ciavo (I am your slave). It directly references the Italian word for slave, schiavo . When used in vèneto, this turn of phrase typically has the connotation of “I’m here if you need me!”

Ciao is primarily considered highly informal. In everyday conversation, it’s often used among people who are already close. So if you’re in Italy and conversing with a native speaker, don’t consider it the go-to greeting. Due to the level of informality, you won’t want to use this in situations that require any kind of formality.

Salve

Italian, like many languages, has strong notions of “formal” and “informal” that go back to cultural standards. Salve, however, is interesting in that it can be considered both polite and informal, depending on the context of the conversation in which it’s being used.

Salve is a good choice for when you’re not sure what level of formality to use. It does lean toward more formal, so don’t be surprised if someone you’ve known for years doesn’t use it with you.

Weilà

This slang phrase is a casual greeting that doesn’t quite have a direct translation in English. It’s used in a similar way to “Hey there” in English, and you’ll mostly hear it among younger people as a greeting for friends they know very well.

Ehi / Ehilà

While ciao might be one of the most popular ways of saying “hello” in Italian in many situations, you may also hear an Italian say ehiehilà or even see ehi in a text. These are all used to say “hey” and their meaning may vary depending on the tone used by the speaker.

As well as sometimes being used as an informal “hey,” these words are commonly used in Italian to attract someone’s attention, like in English.

For example, you might bump into someone you know in an unexpected place: 

Ehi, Antonio! Cosa stai fai qui?
(Hey, Antonio! What are you doing here?)

Pronto

This phrase, which literally means “ready,” is used for answering the phone in Italian.

It supposedly dates back to when phone calls were placed through human operators. Once the operator connected the caller to the recipient, the recipient would say Pronto (and likely their name as well), to indicate that they were on the line and “ready” to talk.

Now pronto is commonly used as a greeting when answering the phone:

Pronto, chi parla?
(Hello, who’s speaking?)

It can also be combined with another greeting when you answer the phone to say something like, “Hello, good morning!”

Pronto, buongiorno!
(Hello, good morning!)

More Ways to Say Hello in Italian

Want even more? Here’s a list of ways to say hi in Italian:

Time-specific Italian Greetings

Buongiorno — Good Day

Literally translated, this means “good day,” but this is also a pretty standard way of saying “good morning.” It can be used for greeting people until the early hours of the afternoon. It also doubles as a catch-all way of saying “hello,” but only in the morning and early afternoon.

It tends to run a bit on the formal side, but it’s generally accepted in all social circles.

‘Giorno — Mornin’

As you may have guessed, this is the abbreviated form of the typical “good morning” phrase above.

You can use it as a more casual greeting to essentially say, “Mornin’!”

Buon dì — Good Day

The phrase is a combination of the word “good” (buon) and an old, Latin-based form of the word “morning” (). It’s not as commonly heard and is mostly used informally.

Buon pomeriggio! — Good Afternoon

Buon pomeriggio is a standard way of saying “good afternoon” across all levels of formality once it starts to get well past the morning.

Buonasera! — Good Evening

Buonasera literally translates to “good evening” and that’s exactly what it means. Use this during that time of day between afternoon and night when people are getting out of work, school, etc. 

More Time-specific Italian Greetings

Here are a few more, mostly informal ways to say hello at different times of day:

How to Say “How Are You?” in Italian

Once you’re past the “hello,” keep the conversation going with small talk. Ask whoever you’re talking to how they’re doing!

Specific and Seasonal Italian Greetings

How do you greet someone who’s enjoying their meal? What do you say when you pick up the phone? And how do you wish someone a happy new year? Here are some context-specific Italian greetings to know:

Other Helpful Words and Phrases

Piacere di conoscerti! — Nice to Meet You

If this feels a bit too formal, it’s perfectly acceptable to say Piacere!” (Pleasure!).

Mi chiamo… — My name is…

When you meet a person for the first time, the most important thing to share is your name. Introduce yourself with this simple phrase.

If you want to ask a person their name, there are two main options, depending on the level or formality:

Come ti chiami? — What’s your name? (Informal)

Come si chiama? — What’s your name? (Formal)

Sono di… / Vengo da… — I’m from…

Letting someone know you’re a visitor or that you relocated from somewhere else is a good ice-breaker.

Just insert where you’re from in English to get the conversation moving. For example, “Vengo dalla California” (I’m from California) works just fine!

Buonanotte! — Good Night

In Italian, when you or another person is ready to go to bed, you can say buonanotte (good night). This phrase can be used in both formal and informal situations, like “good night” in English.

For more phrases to say “good night” in Italian, plus extra Italian sleep vocabulary with audio pronunciation, take a look at this post:

Arrivederci! — Goodbye

As with greetings in Italian, there’s also a variety of different words and expressions to say goodbye such as arrivederci and ciao.

This post has more ways to say goodbye in Italian:

Why Learn Italian Greetings?

Greetings are an essential part of any language. Not only do they help you make a good impression when meeting someone new for the first time, but also when speaking to someone you are familiar with. 

Sure, saying “hi” is as easy as a wave and a smile—but to start a conversation the right way, it’s important to know what to say and when, and greetings are the key to this. 

A warm, appropriate introduction can make all the difference when chatting in Italian, especially when you’re focusing on what’s formal versus what’s casual.

Being mindful of these important differences shows respect for the person you’re talking to.

For additional context, try diving into an Italian TV series or using a language learning program, like FluentU.

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

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As you can see, there are many different ways to say “hello” in Italian.

Learning them will help you not only understand native Italian speakers, but also blend in and start to sound like a native speaker yourself!

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