How to say good luck in Italian & 5 top Italian good luck symbols


Tinamaria Colaizzi

Have you ever wondered how to say good luck in Italian? Well, consider yourself lucky, because this article was written just for you.

Knowing how to say good luck in Italian can be quite useful when interacting with Italians or traveling around the country. In fact, superstitions are actually quite common throughout Italy (especially in the south) and some regions even have their own good luck charms or traditions to ward off bad luck!

In this article, you’ll learn how to wish someone good luck and offer up some words of comfort in Italian. Plus, we’ll explore some cultural references about luck, which will hopefully help you avoid any unlucky mishaps.

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Our first stop? Into the wolf’s mouth!

Good luck in Italian.

How to say Good luck in Italian

When it comes to wishing someone Good luck in Italian, we’re lucky enough to have lots of options at our fingertips. Let’s break it down with a literal translation.

Fortuna means luck, and buona means good. So, quite simply, you can say Buona fortuna when wishing someone good luck in Italian. However, you’re more likely to hear another Italian phrase to convey the same meaning: In bocca al lupo!

This phrase is literally translated to “Into the wolf’s mouth!”, and there are a few theories about its exact origins, which we’ll cover at the end of the article. Basically, using this somewhat “dangerous” or negative phrase to wish someone good luck is supposed to ward off the possibility of accidents. The idea is similar to the idiom, “Break a leg!”

It’s important to remember that if someone wishes you In bocca al lupo, the standard response is Crepi il lupo, or simply, Crepi. This response replaces Grazie and shows that you will defeat “the wolf”, which represents the potentially scary thing you’re about to confront, like difficult exams or making your debut as the lead actor on opening night. (Yes - this handy phrase can even mean “Break a leg!”).

In this table, you’ll find useful phrases you can use to talk about luck. You’ll even notice that some phrases like “knock on wood” and “fingers crossed” are also used by Italian speakers!

English Italian Pronunciation IPA
Good luck! Buona fortuna! / In bocca al lupo! bwon-a four-too-na / een bok-kah al loo-poe ˈbwɔna forˈtuna / im ˈbokka al ˈlupo
Good luck my friend. Buona fortuna, amico/a mio/a!
In bocca al lupo, amico/a mio/a!
bwon-a four-too-na ah-me-ko / ah-me-ka mee-ah!
een bok-kah al loo-poe ah-me-ko / ah-me-ka mee-ah!
ˈbwɔna forˈtuna | aˈmiko ˈmio ˈbwɔna forˈtuna | aˈmika ˈmia
im ˈbokka al ˈlupo | aˈmiko ˈmio im ˈbokka al ˈlupo | aˈmika ˈmia
Break a leg! In bocca al lupo! een bok-kah al loo-poe im ˈbokka al ˈlupo
You’re lucky! Sei fortunato/a! say four-too-nah-to / four-too-nah-tah ˈsɛi̯ fortuˈnato
ˈsɛi̯ forˈtunata
I wish you success. Ti auguro il successo. tee ow-goo-roh eel soo-chess-oh ti ˈau̯ɡuro il sutˈtʃɛsso
I wish you the very best. Ti auguro il meglio. tee ow-goo-roh eel mel-yo ti ˈau̯ɡuro il ˈmɛʎʎo
I wish you the very best. (more colloquial) Tante belle cose. tan-teh beh-leh ko-seh ˈtante ˈbɛlle ˈkɔze
Best wishes! Auguri!* ow-goo-ree ˈau̯ɡuri
Good luck and best wishes. In bocca al lupo e auguri! een bok-kah al loo-poe eh ow-goo-ree! im ˈbokka al ˈlupo ˈe ˈau̯ɡuri
Good luck tomorrow! Buona fortuna domani! bwon-a four-too-na doe-mah-nee ˈbwɔna forˈtuna doˈmani
Good luck on your test. Buona fortuna per l’esame. bwon-a four-too-na per leh-sah-meh ˈbwɔna forˈtuna ˈper leˈzame
Fingers crossed! Incrociamo le dite! een-kro-chya-moh leh dee-teh inkroˈtʃamo ˈle ˈdite
Knock on wood! Tocca ferro! toe-kah fer-roh ˈtokka ˈfɛrro
Have courage! Coraggio! ko-rah-joe koˈraddʒo
I hope everything goes well. Spero che tutto vada bene. spe-roh ke two-toe vah-dah beh-neh ˈspɛro ˈke ˈttutto ˈvada ˈbɛne

*This can also be used to say “Happy birthday!” or “Congratulations!”

Words of comfort and encouragement in Italian

In addition to wishing someone buona fortuna, words of comfort and encouragement are always welcomed. Take a look at the typical phrases in this table, and then check out some ways you may see them used in the different scenarios below.

Giving words of comfort and encouragement in Italian.

English Italian Pronunciation IPA
You are awesome! Sei fantastico/a! say fahn-tas-tee-ko / fahn-tas-tee-kah ˈsɛi̯ fanˈtastiko
ˈsɛi̯ fanˈtastika
You are going to do great! Andrai alla grande! an-dry ah-la gran-deh andrai̯ alla ˈɡrande
Get well soon. Guarisci presto. gwa-ree-she pres-toe ɡwaˈriʃʃi ˈprɛsto
Everything will be okay. Andrà tutto bene. ahn-dra too-toe beh-neh anˈdra ˈttutto ˈbɛne
Stay strong. This too shall pass. Tieni duro. Passerà! tee-yeh-nee doo-roh pah-seh-rah ˈtjɛni ˈduro ‖ passeˈra
I believe in you. Io credo in te. ee-oh kre-doh een teh ˈio ˈkrɛdo in ˈte
I’m so proud of you. Sono fiero/a di te. so-no fee-eh-ro / fee-eh-ra dee teh sono ˈfjɛro di ˈte
sono ˈfjɛra di ˈte
I’m here for you. Ti sono vicino/a. tee so-no vee-chee-no / vee-chee-na ti sono viˈtʃino
ti sono viˈtʃina
You can do it! Ce la puoi fare! / Ce la fai! che la pwoi fa-reh / che la fy ˈtʃe la ˈpwɔi̯ ˈfare
ˈtʃe la ˈfai̯
Believe in yourself. Credi in te stesso. kre-dee een teh stess-oh ˈkredi in ˈte ˈstesso
Don’t give up! Non mollare! non moe-lah-reh ˈnon molˈlare
Don’t worry! Non ti preoccupare! non tee preh-ok-oh-pah-reh ˈnon ti preokkuˈpare
Stay strong. Sii forte. see for-teh ˈsii ˈfɔrte
Come on! Dai! die ˈdai̯
Go for it! Vai! vie ˈvai̯
Hang in there! Forza! four-zah ˈfɔrtsa
Try again! Riprovaci! ree-proh-vah-chee riprovatʃi

When your friend is studying for a very difficult test

  • Credi in te stesso! Andrai alla grande!
  • Believe in yourself! You’re going to do great!

When your friend just lost their job

  • Mi dispiace, ma andrà tutto bene. Non ti preoccupare.
  • I’m sorry, but it will all be okay. Don’t worry.

When your friend is sick

  • Guarisci presto!
  • Get well soon!

When your friend is about to propose marriage to their significant other

  • Vai! Sono fiero di te!
  • Go for it! I’m proud of you!

When your friend is training for a marathon

  • Dai! Ce la fai! Non mollare!
  • Come on! You can do it! Don’t give up!

Italian good luck symbols

If you happen to have any of these symbols lying around, then consider yourself lucky by Italian standards!

Ladybugs represent fortune and good luck in Italian.

Il corno portafortuna (The good luck horn)

Perhaps the most common symbol to ward off bad luck is the Italian corno, also referred to as a cornetto (but be careful - it’s not the one you eat for breakfast!). They represent strength and good fortune. You’ll find these red horns resembling peppers hanging on keychains, storefronts, and cars all over Italy.

In some Southern areas of Italy, you may find this object attached to a hunchback called “O’ Scartellato”, who is known for making troubles disappear!

La Coccinella (The ladybug)

Speaking of Italian good luck symbols that are red, ladybugs also represent good luck and fortune. Their black spots are believed to represent the “Seven Sorrows” of the Catholic faith.

Il numero tredici (13)

In Italy, 13 is seen as a fortunate number. The only time that 13 would be unlucky is at the dinner table. This means that Friday the thirteenth would actually be considered as a lucky day in Italy! Instead, Friday the seventeenth is the one to avoid!

The number 17 is considered to be unlucky because of its Roman numerals. Basically, the Roman numeral for 17 is XVII. If you reorganize these Roman numerals, you can make the word VIXI, which means “I have lived” (and thus, no longer living). So, the Roman numerals for 17 are associated with death.

Il ferro di cavallo (Horseshoe)

It’s not out of the ordinary for households in the southern regions of Italy to have a horseshoe facing upwards above the main door of a house to bring good luck.

Le lenticchie (Lentils)

Eating lentils on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is supposed to bring good fortune. Why? Lentils resemble small coins, so consuming a good number of these legumes symbolizes your openness to receiving good luck and fortune throughout the year!

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Why do Italian people say “In bocca al lupo”?

We’ve familiarized ourselves with almost everything there is to know about Italian luck. Almost. The wolf is still waiting to tell us about the origins of the most common Italian good luck phrase. We just need to travel back in time to Ancient Rome first. Andiamo!

Although the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, one widespread theory dates back to ancient Roman myths. If you’re familiar with the story of Romolo and Remo, the orphaned twins who later became the founders of Rome, you’ll know that they were rescued and protected by a female wolf. Thinking about the phrase in this context shows that a wolf can symbolize safety and protection.

The wolf can symbolize safety and protection in Italian.

Into the mouth of the wolf we go!

Now that we’ve covered useful phrases and their cultural references, you’re prepared to go anywhere…even into the wolf’s mouth!

One thing is certain: you won’t need to rely on luck the next time you want to wish someone good luck or encouragement in Italian. But don’t forget to brush up on more Italian vocabulary in the meantime. Check out our other resources to accompany your Italian journeys. In bocca al lupo!

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