Maybe you already speak flawless Italian.
Maybe you could read (and write!) great books or hold court for hours in the café on an Italian train.
Or maybe you’re just starting out on your Italian learning adventure.
Either way, you might be a bit surprised if your phone lights up with a message from an Italian buddy that reads simply:
This might be on WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter or any corner of the internet where you communicate with Italians. What the heck is it, and how are you to respond?
You’re not going to find the answer in even the best Italian language guides or dictionaries, but yet this is only something that an Italian may well text to you and you need to know how to respond.
Here’s the answer, if you’re dying of curiosity—the C stands for ci (there) and the number six is pronounced sei, which is also how you say “you are,” so c6? means “U there?”
If you got that message you could therefore reply Sì! (Yes!) and start a lovely little chat.
Internet slang gets little respect from teachers but is nevertheless a key part of communication in any language, Italian included. I hope the example above convinces you; this is something that language learners need to know but rarely have the opportunity to focus on (until they’re dropped into a confusing internet exchange, that is).
This article will cover the most common Italian internet slang that I think any learner should be aware of. The list is a bit long, but there are elements that repeat, so don’t be intimidated. Most learners won’t need to take the trouble to memorize a list once they start to see the patterns. This article should be useful for any level of Italian learner.
All the Hip Internet Slang You Need to LOL in Italian
I’m not going to include nerdy or more obscure Italian chat forum vocabulary that even most Italians wouldn’t know, nor some of the more extreme abbreviations that were popular a decade or so ago, as Italians now rarely use SMS (which they often paid per message) and thus many abbreviations have dropped away.
Now Italians mostly stick to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger apps. Let’s look at what you might often see when communicating with them there, and in other corners of the online world (forums, dating apps, chat rooms, etc.).
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Internet Slang That’s the Same in Both Italian and English
While the following aren’t necessarily universal to all languages, they’re common to both English and Italian. You should feel free to use them and know that your Italian friends will understand.
- haha, hahahahahaha
- Hehehe / hihihi — Italians have told me that these sound to them like wilder, crazier laughs than “hahaha”
- :) — This is il sorriso (the smile)
- :D — A bigger smile
- ;) — The wink, known in Italian as strizzare l’occhio, fare l’occhiolino or fare l’occhietto. Note that Italians wink in conversation much more than English speakers do as a signal of common understanding, and not simply for flirting.
The following show kisses (baci) —
- :* or :***
Internet Slang Particular to Italian
Enough of the easy stuff. Let’s look at the strange keyboard combinations that could cause confusion for non-Italians entering the fray.
Expressing your loves/likes
You’ll noticed lots of dropped vowels occurs in these very common expressions of affection:
- tvb — ti voglio bene — I like you, I feel a lot of affection for you (not generally romantic)
- tvtb — ti voglio tanto bene — I like you so much (getting more affectionate but generally still not romantic)
- tvtttttb — an exaggeration of the above, with as many Ts as desired, and is possibly getting closer to an “I love you” (ti amo)
When you see the letter K…
The words below may seem a bit odd since they use the letter K, which isn’t even in the Italian alphabet. But it sits on an Italian keyboard, and so it’s not surprising that eventually Italians have come to make use of it to indicate the same sound as it has in English. It replaces the more complex H that Italian spelling rules sometimes require between the C and the vowel (ca, co, che, chi, cu).
This gives us the following internet- and chat-only spellings. I’ll give them followed by the standard Italian version, followed by the English translation.
- k or ki — chi — who, what
- anke — anche — also
- ke — che — what, that
- km — come — how
- kn — con — with
- ks — cosa — thing
If you notice a C or Q…
Conversely, the C is called ci (with a hard CH sound) and can thus be used by itself.
- c — ci — there
You’ve probably already noticed from these examples that vowels tend to get eliminated in internet chat spellings. This is especially true of the letter U after a Q.
- qlk — qualche — some, a few
- qlk1 — qualcuno — someone
- qnd — quando — when
- qndi — quindi — therefore
- qnt — quanto — how much
- qst — questo — this
- qls — qualcosa — something
If there’s an X…
One potentially confusing very common abbreviation is X for per (for, by, etc. — check out our complete coverage of the preposition). To understand why, you need to see how per is used in math:
- 5 x 4=20 — pronounced as: cinque per quattro fa venti
You can thus use X anywhere you would use per, as well as in these bigger words that contain those letters:
- xkè — perché — because
- xciò — perciò — therefore, for this reason
- xh — per ora — for now
- xò — però — but
- xsona — persona — person
- sxo — spero — I hope
- + – x — più o meno per — more or less
It helps to see that last one in a larger context:
- Sarò da te +-x le 4. — Sarò da te più o meno per le 4. — I’ll be at your place at about 4:00.
Other fun Italian internet slang words or phrases
One Italian gesture you should be aware of is the raising of both eyebrows to indicate superiority or that someone seems to have come out on top in a particular story. This could be done by either the person telling the story or the person listening. It is not so much an expression of surprise as you might see in English-language cartoons. The Italian internet version is also used for expressing that someone has come out on top:
- ^^ — alzare le sopracciglia — to raise the eyebrows
It’s common to take the final vowel off of direct object pronouns:
- m — mi — me (For example, m hai detto instead of mi hai detto for “you told me.”)
- t l faccio vedere io — Te la faccio vedere io! — I’ll show you! (menacing)
We’ll finish off with a series of abbreviations that don’t follow any particular rules except that they tend to eliminate vowels.
- cmq — comunque — anyway
- nn — non — no
- pfv — per favore — please
- grz — grazie — thanks
- midi — mi dispiace — I‘m sorry
- d — di — of, from
- tn — tanto — a lot, much, long time
- risp — rispondi — answer
- prox — prossima — next
- gg — giorno — day
- c sent — ci sentiamo — we’ll talk later
- dm — domani — tomorrow
- dp — dopo — after
- dr — dire — to say
- dv 6 — dove sei — where are you
- dx — destra — right (this is also a medical abbreviation, and not simply for the internet)
- sx — sinistra — left
- frs — forse — maybe
- mmt+ — mi manchi tantissimo — I miss you so much
- nm — numero — number
- nr — numero — number
- scs — scusa — sorry
- sl — solo — only, just
- smpr — sempre — always
- sn — sono — I am
- t tel + trd — ti telefono più tardi — I’ll call you later
- t km dp — ti chiamo dopo — I’ll call you later
- trnqui / trnqi — tranquillo — relax (this is very Milanese)
- trp — troppo — too much
- vlv — volevo — I would like, was wanting
- -male — meno male — congrats, I’m happy for that
- bimbominkia / bimbaminkia (f./m.) — bambino/a minchia — darned internet kid, with their revolting destruction of the Italian language
That’s it! Are you ready to chat like a bimbominkia? Here’s a final pop quiz. See if you can work out what this means before scrolling down for the answer.
-male k c’è il sole xkè vlv passeggiare
Got it? Here it is in standard Italian and then in English.
Meno male che c’è il sole perché volevo passeggiare. — I’m glad the sun is out because I was wanting to go for a walk.
Mose Hayward also blogs about his recommendations for dealing with problems with Italian train ticketing.
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