100+ Colorful and funny Italian phrases, words and facts you'll love to use

Pop quiz! Which Italian word in each of these pairs is funnier: bacherozzolo or acquerugiola? Pennichella or bazzecola? Ninnolo or fannullone

These words have the ability to make otherwise mature individuals laugh, because they just sound absolutely hilarious. The Italian language certainly has its fair share of fun-to-say words and sayings.

In this article, we’ll also introduce you to paccottiglia, barattolo, tapparella, and other funny Italian words, phrases and expressions to spice up your conversations.

Let’s get right into it!

Take a break from your Italian lessons and try our LOL Italian quiz!

Funny Italian vocab and sayings

Sometimes what we learn from textbooks is just not enough. Speaking real Italian means using certain words, amusing expressions, abbreviations, colorful idioms, and funny Italian phrases that you’ll only learn in bars with friends, on the street, or in this article.

In addition to mastering essential vocabulary, it’s important that you learn these fun words and commonly-used expressions to fully understand what is being said to you and around you.

Let’s get going!

Friends laughing at funny Italian words and phrases.

Funny Italian phrases, idioms and things to say in Italian

Part of our everyday life, Italian idioms can be hilarious. They reflect cultural customs, values, and traditions, and rely massively on metaphors and analogies. That’s why they often seem totally random when translated literally.

The key to understanding funny Italian sayings, idioms, and amusing expressions is never to read them in a literal sense, as most of the time they have very different meanings from their literal translations. Try and figure out what they mean, instead.

Enjoy the lighter side of the Italian language with these colorful idioms, the secret to sounding like a native speaker.

ItalianIPAPronunciationLiteral meaningActual meaning
Far vedere i sorci verdi[fˈarvedˈereˈisˈort͡ʃɪvˈerdɪ]fahr veh-deh-reh ee sohr-chee vehr-deeTo make someone see green ratsTo give someone trouble
Essere fuori come un balcone[ˈɛs͡serefʊˈorɪkˈomeˈunbalkˈone]eh-seh-reh phoo-oh-ree koh-meh oon bahl-koh-nehTo be out as a balconyTo be loopy
Salvare capra e cavoli[salvˈarekˈapraˈeːkˈavolɪ]sahl-vah-reh kah-prah eh kah-voh-leeTo save goat and cabbagesTo find a solution to a tricky situation without compromising any positive outcome
Mettere la pulce nell’orecchio[mˈetːerelˈapˈult͡ʃenˈɛl’orˈekːio]meh-teh-reh lah pool-che nehl oh-reh-kee-ohTo put a flea in someone’s earTo arouse someone’s doubts or suspicions
Tirarsi la zappa sui piedi[tirˈarsɪlˈad͡zˈapːasˈuipjˈedɪ]tee-rahr-see lah tsah-pah soo-ee pee-eh-deeTo throw the hoe on your own feetTo damage your own plans or progress through silly actions
Conoscere i propri polli[konˈoʃereˈiprˈɔprɪpˈollɪ]koh-noh-sheh-reh ee proh-pree pohl-leeTo know one’s own chickensTo know someone so well that you can easily predict how they will behave in any given situation
Dare perle ai porci[dˈarepˈɛrleˈajpˈɔrt͡ʃɪ]dah-reh pehr-leh ah-ee pohr-cheeTo give pearls to pigsTo give valuables to people unable to appreciate them
Rigirare la frittata[rid͡ʒirˈarelˈafritːˈata]ree-jee-rah-reh lah phree-tah-tahTo turn the omeletTo turn the tables in one’s favor
Fare d’una mosca un elefante[fˈared̪ˈiː’ˈunamˈoskaˈunelefˈante]fah-reh doo-nah mohs-kah oon eh-leh-phan-tehTo make an elephant out of a flyTo greatly exaggerate the importance of a problem
Essere suonato come una campana[ˈɛs͡seresʊonˈatokˈomeˈunakampˈana]eh-seh-reh soo-oh-nah-toh koh-meh oon-ah kahm-pah-nahTo be rung like a bellTo be addled, confused, and unable to think clearly
Avere la puzza sotto al naso[avˈerelˈapˈut͡sːasˈotːoˈalnˈazo]ah-veh-reh lah poo-tsah soht-toh ahl nah-zohTo have the stink under the noseTo be snobbish and haughty
Gettare la spugna[d͡ʒetːˈarelˈaspˈuɲɲa]jeht-tah-reh lah spoon-yahTo throw in the spongeTo stop trying to do something, because you know that you can’t succeed
Avere pelo sullo stomaco[avˈerepˈelosˈullostˈɔmako]ah-veh-reh peh-loh sool-loh stoh-mah-kohTo have fur on the stomachTo have no scruples
Dalle stelle alle stalle[dˈallestˈelleˈallestˈalle]dahl-leh stehl-leh ahl-leh stahl-lehFrom the stars to the cowshedsIt’s the opposite of the English phrase, “From rags to riches”
Avere l’argento vivo addosso[avˈereˈɛlle’ard͡ʒˈɛntovˈivoadːˈɔs͡so]ah-veh-reh lahr-jehn-toh vee-voh ah-doh-sohTo have alive silver on one’s bodyTo be very energetic
Restare con un pugno di mosche[restˈarekˈonˈunpˈuɲɲodˈimˈoske]reh-stah-reh kohn oon poon-yo dee moh-skehTo be left with a handful of fliesTo fail to achieve any results or success
Andarci con i piedi di piombo[andˈart͡ʃɪkˈonˈipjˈedɪdˈipjˈɔmbo]ahn-dahr-chee kohn ee pee-eh-dee dee pee-ohm-bohTo go there with the feet of leadTo do something cautiously
Prendere un granchio[prˈɛndereˈunɡrˈankio]prehn-deh-reh oon grahn-kee-ohTo catch a crabTo make a mistake
Avere le mani in pasta[avˈerelˈemˈanɪˈiːnpˈasta]ah-veh-reh leh mah-nee een pahs-tahTo have your hands in doughTo be involved in everything that happens
Capire Roma per toma[kapˈirerˈomapˈertˈoma]kah-pee-reh Roh-mah per toh-mahTo understand Rome for toma cheeseTo misunderstand something completely
Prendere fischi per fiaschi[prˈɛnderefˈiskɪpˈerfjˈaskɪ]prehn-deh-reh phee-skee per phee-ah-skeeTo take whistles for flasksTo misunderstand
Fare le scarpe a qualcuno[fˈarelˈeskˈarpeˈaːkwalkˈuno]pha-reh leh skahr-peh ah koo-ahl-koo-nohTo make the shoes to someoneTo kick someone out of his job
Attaccare bottone[atːakːˈarebotːˈone]aht-tah-kah-reh boht-toh-nehTo attach buttonTo start talking to someone you don’t know
Non avere peli sulla lingua[nˈonavˈerepˈelɪsˈullalˈiŋɡwa]nohn ah-veh-reh peh-lee suh-lah leen-goo-ahNot to have hair on your tongueTo be very direct and speak your mind, regardless of the possibility of upsetting someone
Farsene un baffo[fˈarseneˈunbˈaffo]pha-rseh-neh oon bah-phoTo make a mustache of itTo treat something as insignificant
Avere un diavolo per capello[avˈereˈundjˈavolopˈerkapˈello]ah-veh-reh oon dee-ah-voh-loh per kah-pehl-lohTo have a devil for each hairTo be furious
Tagliare la testa al toro[taʎˈarelˈatˈɛstaˈaltˈɔro]tah-wlhee-ah-reh lah tehs-tah ahl toh-rohTo cut off the bull’s headTo eliminate every indecision
Rompere le uova nel paniere[rˈomperelˈewˈɔvanˈɛlpaniˈɛre]rohm-peh-reh leh oo-oh-vah nehl pah-nee-eh-rehTo break the eggs in the basketTo bring into disorder
Avere le mani di pasta frolla[avˈerelˈemˈanɪdˈipˈastafrˈɔlla]ah-veh-reh leh mah-nee dee pah-stah phroh-lahTo have pastry handsTo be a clumsy person who drops things
Essere al verde[ˈɛs͡sere ˈal vˈerde]eh-seh-reh ahl vehr-dehTo beat the greenTo be flat broke
Buonanotte al secchio[bʊonanˈɔtːeˈalsˈekːio]boo-oh-nah-noh-teh ahl seh-kee-ohGoodnight to the pailAnd that's that, it's all over

Funny Italian words that sound absolutely hilarious

The Italian language contains TONS of wacky, funny-sounding words that seem too weird to be real, yet absolutely are.

Why do some Italian words make us giggle? Well, the sound and the form a word takes are key to getting a chuckle. Many whimsical words sound comical because they include blends of other words (eg. ‘attaccabrighe’, from attaccare and brighe, and ‘battiscopa’ from battere and scopa), reduplicatives, which repeat sounds (eg. ‘chiacchierare,’ ‘giuggiola,’ and ‘furfante’), and of course intrinsically funny sounds, like “oo,” “k,” “b,” and “g.” Double letters are also funny.

The more unusual a word looks or sounds, the funnier it is. We’ve rounded up over 30 fun-to-say words you can start using today. Read through the list, and pronounce every word out loud. They’ll crack you up, and they’re also one of the best ways to practice Italian pronunciation.

Woman laughing at funny Italian phrases and words.

ItalianEnglishIPAPronunciation
CucchiaioSpoon[kʊkːjˈaio]koo-kee-ah-ee-oh
TapparellaRoller shutter[tapːarˈɛlla]tahp-pah-rehl-lah
BarattoloJar[baɾˈatːolo]bah-raht-toh-loh
AcquerugiolaDrizzle[akːwerʊd͡ʒˈɔla]ah-koo-eh-roo-joh-lah
BarzellettaJoke[bard͡zellˈetːa]bahr-tseh-leh-tah
PennichellaNap[pennikˈɛlla]pehn-nee-kehl-lah
NinnoloTrinket[nˈinnolo]neen-noh-loh
AttaccabrigheTroublemaker[atːakːabrˈiɡe]aht-tah-kah bree-gheh
Lapalissiano / lapalissianaEvident by itself[lapalis͡sjˈano] [lapalis͡sjˈana]lah-pah-lee-see-ah-noh lah-pah-lee-see-ah-nah
PedissequamenteSlavishly, without originality[pedis͡sekwamˈente]peh-dee-seh-koo-ah-mehn-teh
Bacherozzo, bacherozzoloBug[bakerˈɔt͡sːo] [bakerˈot͡sːolo]bah-keh-roh-tsoh bah-keh-roh-tsoh-loh
ChiacchierareTo chat[kjakːjerˈare]kee-ah-kee-eh-rah-reh
FilibustiereFreebooter[filibʊstiˈɛre]phee-lee-boo-stee-eh-reh
CianfrusagliaKnick knack[t͡ʃanfrʊzˈaʎa]chan-phroo-sah-wlhee-ah
BattiscopaBaseboard[batːiskˈɔpa]baht-tee-skoh-pah
Farabutto / farabuttaScoundrel[faɾabˈutːo] [faɾabˈutːa]pha-rah-boo-toh pha-rah-boo-tah
LapislazzuliLapis lazuli[lapizlˈat͡sːʊlɪ]lah-pee-slah-tsoo-lee
SdrucciolevoleSlippery[zdrʊt͡ʃːolˈevole]sdroo-cho-leh-voh-leh
Farlocco / farloccaFake[farlˈɔkːo] [farlˈɔkːa]phar-loh-koh phar-loh-kah
CruscottoDashboard[krʊskˈɔtːo]kroo-skoht-toh
Pernicioso / perniciosaPernicious, harmful[pernit͡ʃˈozo] [pernit͡ʃˈɔza]pehr-nee-cho-soh pehr-nee-cho-sah
PeripeziaAdventure[peripet͡sˈia]peh-ree-peh-tsee-ah
BatacchioClapper[batˈakːio]bah-tahk-kee-oh
PaccottigliaTat[pakːotːˈiʎa]pah-koh-tee-wlhee-ah
GiumentaMare, adult female horse[d͡ʒʊmˈenta]joo-mehn-tah
PannocchiaCob[pannˈɔkːia]pahn-noh-kee-ah
Limaccioso / limacciosaLimy[limat͡ʃːˈozo] [limat͡ʃːˈɔza]lee-mah-cho-zoh lee-mah-cho-zah
SpifferoDraft[spˈiffero]speeph-eh-roh
CarrucolaPulley[karɾˈukola]kah-roo-koh-lah
GiuggiolaJujube[d͡ʒˈud͡ʒːola]joo-joh-lah
Fannullone / FannullonaLoafer[fannʊllˈone] [fannʊllˈona]phan-noo-loh-neh phan-noo-loh-nah
BazzecolaTriviality[bat͡sːˈekola]bah-tseh-koh-lah
PuleggiaSheave[pʊlˈed͡ʒːa]poo-leh-jee-ah
TapiocaTapioca[tapjˈɔka]tah-pee-oh-kah
FantasminiInvisible socks, ankle socks[fantˈazminɪ]phahn-tah-smee-nee
Paffuto / paffutaChubby[paffˈuto] [paffˈuta]pah-phoo-toh pah-phoo-tah
FrottolaFib[frˈɔtːola]phroht-toh-lah
CollutorioMouthwash, mouth-cleansing product[kollʊtˈɔrio]kohl-loo-toh-ree-oh
OrnitorincoDuck-billed platypus[ornitorˈinko]ohr-nee-toh-reen-koh
FurfanteRascal[fʊrfˈante]phoor-phan-teh
NibelungoNibelung[nibelˈuŋɡo]nee-beh-loon-goh
Pelandrone / pelandronaLazybones[pelandrˈone] [pelandrˈona]peh-lahn-droh-neh peh-lahn-droh-nah
PressapochismoInaccuracy, approximation[pres͡sapokˈizmo]preh-sah-poh-kees-moh
QualunquismoPolitical apathy[kwalʊnkwˈizmo]koo-ah-loon-koo-ees-moh

Free and fun quiz to make you laugh out loud!

Download this free quiz and try to guess the funny Italian words and phrases. Once you've completed the quiz, scan the QR code... you'll be amazed at the answers!

Free funny Italian words and phrases quiz.

Funny facts about Italy

There’s more than enough weird and wacky going down between the Bel Paese’s borders. We’ve assembled some of the best funny facts about Italian food and culture for you. Take a break and read them all.

A funny fact about Italy is that Rome’s Trevi Fountain collects about 1.5 million dollars a year and that money goes to charity.

1. 99.9% of Italian households have a bidet

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says ‘Italy’? Rolling, verdant hills carpeted with beautiful rows of vineyards? Idyllic beaches? Fine wines? Maybe a cream-colored vintage Vespa scooter? For many foreign visitors, the answer often comes down to the funny looking bidet, a regular fixture in Italian bathrooms. If you’ve ever traveled to Italy, you’ve surely seen one, and given it the side-eye.

Pronounced bee-deh, a bidet is a low, basin-like porcelain sink used for washing your feet, shaving your legs, and primarily for cleaning the nether regions of your body after using the bathroom. I’ll spare you any graphic details!

2. In Marostica, northern Italy, locals play real-life giant chess

You may think human-sized chess is just one of those terrible nightmares from which one suddenly awakes, or some Harry Potter level madness, but in the lovely northern Italian town ofMarostica, in the province of Vicenza, it’s totally real. This little gem in the Veneto region has hosted a game of giant chess in its central piazza every other year since 1454.

3. Italians are credited for spreading the use of forks throughout Europe

In Europe, the fork didn’t catch on for a long time. Instead of a fork, people used a spindly wooden spike to stab food with. Seen for a long time as the tool of the devil, forks weren’t used until Italians got sick of trying to eat spaghetti and tagliatelle with a single stick. This happened in the Late Middle Ages, and the rest of Europe followed a long time after, in the eighteenth century. The word fork (forchetta) itself comes from the Latin furca, meaning pitchfork.

4. The Battle of the Oranges is the most popular and fun food fight in Italy

Every year at Carnival time in the picturesque Piedmontese town of Ivrea, at the base of the Italian Alps, locals gather on the cobblestone streets of the town-center to hurl oranges at each other. The origin of the so-called Battle of the Oranges (Battaglia delle arance), the most famous food fight in Italy, dates back to ancient medieval times, and is said to commemorate the day the town revolted against the monarchy.

5. Italians consume 14 billion espressos every year

Did you know that 14 billion espressos are consumed in Italy every year? That’s a huge amount of coffee indeed! Of those 14 billion I think that at least 10 are consumed by my partner in crime.

6. Italy has over 2500 types of cheese

Each Italian region and city boast a vast array of typically local cheeses. From Parmigiano, Squacquerone and semisoft, washed-rind, smear-ripened Taleggio, to Asiago, Caciocavallo and Burrata, Italy has over 2500 traditional cheeses.

7. The average Italian consumes over 65 pounds of pasta per year

Italians consume a gigantic amount of pasta per year. A normal portion of pasta is roughly 100 grams, approximately 3 oz. Most Italians have one pasta meal a day. That would lead to 68 pounds per capita per year. That’s a lot!

8. Rome’s Trevi Fountain is full of money

Have you ever seen Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, a cult classic of Italian cinema? Do you remember the scene where drop-dead gorgeous Anita Ekberg lures Marcello Mastroianni into the waters of the Trevi Fountain in Rome wearing a beautiful black evening dress? Well, a popular legend has it that you should throw two coins into this stunning Baroque fountain and make a wish. The first coin grants your wish, and with the second one you’ll be guaranteed a return trip to the Eternal City.

Every year, visitors throw approximately 1.5 million dollars into Rome’s Trevi Fountain, at the center of Piazza di Trevi in the Quirinale district. This money is used to finance various charities, including the Italian Red Cross, and Caritas, an International Catholic nonprofit.

9. ** Spoiler alert ** No spaghetti and meatballs in Italy

Spaghetti and meatballs is arguably the best-known “Italian” dish outside of Italy. Still, you’ll not find a dish called “spaghetti and meatballs” if you go to Italy, because it isn’t an authentic Italian dish. It’s actually an Italian-American creation, 100% made in the USA. We have just pulled the rug out from under your feet, haven’t we?

Here in Italy, delicious, flavor-packed meatballs (polpette) are usually served as a separate course, and spaghetti as a primo (main course), definitely not topped by meatballs. To me, serving polpette perched on top of a pile of spaghetti is the equivalent of serving a salmon filet with a slice of apple pie on it.

Where does world-renowned“spaghetti & meatballs” come from, then, you ask? Well, poor Italian immigrants arriving in large numbers in the US between 1880 and 1920 had to adapt to using the products they could afford there. This created a fusion of local ingredients and classic Italian recipes and preparation methods.

Spaghetti and meatballs was actually created by southern Italian immigrants in America. When meat was served, the portions were too small to sit alone on the plate, so they added pasta and bright tomato sauce to make it look and taste better.

10. World Heritage Sites are everywhere in the Bel Paese

Italy is the number one country in the world when it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the majestic Dolomites to the romantic Amalfi Coast and the late-Baroque towns of the breathtaking Noto Valley in Sicily, there are FIFTY-FIVE, I repeat, fifty-five and counting sites of ‘outstanding universal value’ in sunny Italy.

How to say ‘funny’ in Italian

In Italian there are a number of different ways you can translate the word ‘funny’. Check out the table below for a list of different ways to say “funny” in Italian. Enjoy!

Women enjoying gelato while laughing at funny Italian words and sayings.

ItalianEnglishIPAPronunciation
DivertenteFunny, amusing[divertˈɛnte]dee-vehr-tehn-teh
EsilaranteFunny, hilarious[ezilaɾˈante]eh-zee-lah-rahn-teh
SpassosoAmusing[spas͡sˈozo]spah-soh-zoh
SpiritosoWitty, humorous[spiritˈozo]spee-ree-toh-zoh
SimpaticoPleasant, nice[simpˈatiko]seem-pah-tee-koh
UmoristicoHumorous[ʊmorˈistiko]oo-moh-ree-stee-koh
ScherzosoJoking, playful[skert͡sˈozo]skehr-tsoh-zoh
ComicoComical, funny[kˈɔmiko]koh-mee-koh
Clownesco, claunescoClownish[klaʊnˈesko]klah-oo-neh-skoh
BurlescoJoking, jesting[bʊrlˈesko]boor-leh-skoh
FarsescoFarcical, ridiculous[farsˈesko]phar-sehs-koh

Funny Italian slang: texting and instant messaging abbreviations

People often look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them that I got my first ever smartphone as late as 2015. I’m not a huge fan of texting either. Emoji and chat abbreviations in particular have the same effect on me as bug spray on flies.

Like it or not, texting abbreviations are massively used in online communication, social media, emails, forums, message boards, online communities, and even online games. Not knowing their meaning can cause confusion.

Here is a list of common SMS, online chat, and instant messaging slang words, phrases, abbreviations, contractions and acronyms to help you understand today’s texting lingo.

Texting abbreviationItalianEnglish
:)SorrisoSmile, smiley-face
:DSorrisoSmile
:(TristeSad
XDRisateLaughing
;)OcchiolinoWinking
:PLinguacciaSticking tongue out
<3CuoreHeart
xoxoxoxoTanti baciMany kisses
:*BacioKiss
xPerFor, to, in order to
xkè, xk, x’PerchéWhy, because
qndQuandoWhen
PeròBut, however, though
ankeAncheAlso, too, as well
keCheWhat, which, that
kiChiWho
qlkQualche Some, a few
cmqComunqueAnyway, however, in any case
grzGrazie Thanks
tntTanto A lot, very much
qlcsQualcosaSomething
cnConWith
nntNienteNothing
ggGiorno, giorniDay, days
scsScusaSorry, excuse me
6SeiYou are
+PiùMore
-MenoLess
c6?Ci sei?U there?
dv6?Dove sei?Where are you?
tvbTi voglio beneI feel a lot of affection for you
t.a.Ti amoI love you

Fun ways to learn Italian

Love watching videos on YouTube? How about trying to find some in Italian? Big Red is such a great tool, make it part of your learning mix!

Italian YouTubers will give you thousands of hours of educational entertainment. Watching YouTube videos in Italian can be a great way to expand your vocabulary, reinforce what you’ve learned, and catch on to colloquialisms that grammar books wouldn’t teach you, all while being entertained!

Here’s a look at some fun YouTube channels that will help you improve your language skills, get to grips with some elements of Italian culture, and laugh your head off doing it:

Maccio Capatonda Official

Pantellas

Frank Matano

Casa Surace

The Jackall

Grilletto Facile

With fun Italian YouTube channels, you can listen to the language as it’s actually used, and train yourself to understand real world conversations.

There you have it!

So, there you have it, our list of funny Italian words, phrases, and texting abbreviations. Start using them today to make everyday conversations more colorful and engaging. The ability to sprinkle funny Italian phrases and idioms into conversation will help you communicate effectively and sound like a native speaker.

If you’re enjoying learning Italian, keep building your skills on our Italian blog, and check out our library of fun and free Italian vocabulary lessons.

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