128 zinger Italian slang words and terms to boost your vocab

Sure, studying Italian through books is excellent, but sometimes you miss something – real-life language!

And fluency will come to you, even more, when you can speak more conversationally – when you know some Italian slang. In real life, people don’t talk like they do in language books or listening exercises.

Learning some Italian slang words and phrases will certainly help you if you’re planning to go to Italy, and it’ll help you sound more authentic to your Italian friends.

In this article, we’ll learn the meaning and pronunciation of some of the most common Italian slang terms so that you can really sound like a local.

Friends at a football game speaking Italian slang.

Why you need to know Italian slang terms

1. Italian dialects

Sure, Italian has a standard version we all speak… But do we? When I was younger, I found out that a word I was using all the time was not actually Italian. It was an ‘Italianized’ expression from my regional dialect.

In Italy, every region has its own dialect, often even more than one. Even if speaking Italian and speaking a dialect are not the same, many words cross the language border and become part of the slang.

This makes Italian slang terms incredibly varied and rich. Depending on the region you visit, you might find different accents, expressions and words.

This article will look at the main ones used (or at least understood) in the whole peninsula. But there are many more out there, so keep that in mind.

2. Natural language

Most of the time, with our friends and family, the language we use is not as polished as that found in books or language courses. Real language is fluid and varied, and it usually contains a lot of familiar terms, idiomatic expressions and slang.

Knowing it will help you feel more comfortable in every kind of situation that involves the Italian language.

3. It’s fun!

Most of all, learning casual Italian conversation is fun! Many expressions’ literal English translations won’t make sense. They’ll just make you laugh. But they also give you an insight into Italian culture and mindset.

Download our free guide to Italian slang!

Casual Italian conversation.

Let’s begin!

Let’s start looking at some of the most commonly used colloquial words and phrases. In the table below, you will find different columns: one for the slang phrase in Italian, one with the English translation or meaning and one for the pronunciation.

Here we transcribed the Italian pronunciation phonetically so that an English speaker can easily understand how to say the words correctly and practice their Italian aloud.

As we mentioned above, there might be different pronunciations of the same word according to regional accents and dialects. However, these words are mostly understood everywhere in Italy.

When a word is typical of a region or area, you’ll find it specified next to the word or phrase in question in the table below.

Italian slang words

WordPronunciationEnglish meaning
bohbohI don’t know
figofee-gohCool
daidah-eehCome on
magarimah-gah-reeI wish / perhaps
tranquitrahn-kweeShort for “tranquillo/a”, calm, tranquil. Meaning “don’t worry”.
scialloshah-lohCalm, relaxed
sciallarsishahl-lahr-seeTo relax
miticomee-tee-cohGreat
una cifraooh-nah chee-frahA lot
un bottooon boh-tohA lot
figuratifee-goo-rah-teeDon’t mention it
una paglia / una paiaooh-nah pah-lliahA cigarette
fesfehsOnly in Lombardy: a lot
coattocoh-ah-tohIn Rome: rough
bordellobohr-dell-ohMess
ferrofeh-rohGun
sfigatosfee-gah-tohLoser
sbirrosbee-rohCop

Italian slang phrases

Positive phrases

Here are some slang expressions you can use when you’re in a good mood!

PhrasePronunciationEnglish meaning
Che figata!keh fee-gah-tahHow cool!
essere in cannaeh-seh-reh een cah-nahTo be full of energy
essere gasatoeh-seh-reh gah-sah-tohTo be excited
meno male!meh-noh mah-lehHow lucky!
Bella lì!bell-lah leeSweet!
Bella storia!bell-lah stoh-ryahWay to go! / Cool!
Che top!keh topSuper
avogliaah-voh-lyaSure / of course / yes
a fagioloah fah-joh-lohJust right
bon / va bonbon / vah bonOk
amouninn’ah-moo-neennIn Sicily: “Let’s go”
‘ndomndomIn Northern Italy: “Let’s go”
fare un afterfah-reh oon ah-ftehrTo stay up until the morning
sbronzarsisbrohn-dzar-seeTo get drunk
cazzeggiarecats-eh-jah-rehTo do nothing / waste time
spaccarespah-kah-rehTo be cool
avere culoah-veh-reh coo-lohTo be lucky

Italian expressions for when you’re not in the best mood

And these are for when you’re not in the mood… In those cases especially, conventional language is never enough!

PhrasePronunciationEnglish meaning
Che palle!keh pah-lehHow annoying!
avere le palle girateah-veh-reh leh pah-leh jee-rah-tehTo be annoyed / angry
sclerarescleh-rah-rehTo go crazy
sbroccaresbroh-kah-rehTo go crazy
svalvolaresvahl-voh-lah-rehTo go crazy
gufaregoo-fah-rehTo bring bad luck
farsi le parefar-see leh pah-rehTo get paranoid
Che schifo!keh skee-fohDisgusting!
Fa cagare!fah cah-gah-rehIt’s disgusting (literally: It makes you poo)
Che menata!keh meh-nah-tahWhat a drag!
stare addossostah-reh ah-doss-sohTo badger someone
Ci fai o ci sei?chee fah-y oh chee-seh-yAre you stupid or what?
essere fuorieh-seh-reh foo-oh-reeTo be crazy (lit. to be out)
fuori come un balconefoo-oh-ree coh-meh oon bahl-coh-nehCrazy (lit. out as a balcony)
Non esiste!non eh-see-stehNo way!
non me ne frega nientenon meh neh freh-gah nee-ehn-tehI don’t care at all
tirare un bidone / bidonaretee-rah-reh oon bee-doh-neh / bee-doh-nah-rehTo stand someone up
intortareeen-tohr-tah-rehNorthern Italy: to fool someone
pallosopahl-loh-sohBoring
topparetop-pah-rehTo make a mistake
essere scazzatoeh-seh-reh ska-tsah-tohTo not be in the mood for anything
incazzarsieen-cah-tsar-seeTo get angry
essere pesanteeh-seh-reh peh-sahn-tehTo be heavy / oppressive
avere il musoAh-veh-reh eel moo-sohTo be in a bad mood / sulking
rompipallerom-pee pahl-lehAn annoying person

Italian internet slang

The internet often has its own language, and it’s the same in Italy… The only odd thing here is that most Italian Internet slang actually comes from the English language. Look at the words in the table below, they are Italianized English words.

Careful though, you need to pronounce them with an Italian accent, otherwise people won’t understand you.

Internet slangItalian pronunciationEnglish meaning
bannarebah-nah-rehTo ban
taggaretahg-gah-rehTo tag
killarekeel-lah-reTo kill
chattarechah-tah-rehTo chat
stalkerarestol-keh-rah-rehTo stalk
whatsapparewoh-tsah-pah-reTo WhatsApp
trollaretroh-lah-reTo troll
nerdnehrdNerd
googlearegoo-goh-lah-rehTo Google

Italian slang for money

Every language has its own slang for money. Check out these expressions you can use to talk about your finances.

ItalianPronunciationEnglish meaning
La granalah grah-nahMoney
Il granoeel grah-nohMoney
La pilalah pee-lahMoney
Le palancheleh pah-lahn-kehMoney
Un decaoon de-ka10 Euros
Un ventinooon ven-ti-no20 Euros
Un cinquantinooon chin-kwan-ti-no50 Euros
Una centaoo-nah chen-tah100 Euros
Costare un bottocos-tah-reh oon bot-tohTo be expensive

Italian slang for friend

Italian slang for friend.

Let’s now see some expressions you can use to talk with or about your friends. These can vary a lot according to the region you’re in.

Here we tried to keep it simple, most words are understood everywhere in Italy.

WordPronunciationEnglish meaning
vecchio / vecchiaveh-kyo / veh-kyaFriend
vecio / veciaveh-choh / veh-chaFriend
sociosoh-chohFriend
brobrohBrother
raga’rah-gahRome: Guys
compacom-pahCompany
guagliówa-lyohSouthern Italy: Guy
gnaronyah-rohNorthern Italy: Guy
pivellopee-vehl-lohInexperienced kid
bociaboh-chaKid
friendzonarefren-dzoh-nah-rehTo friendzone
beccarsibeh-car-seeTo meet up
fare bordellofah-re bohr-dell-lohTo make a mess / party
drinkaredreen-kah-rehTo drink

Free downloadable guide to Italian slang

We've created a list of popular slang words and phrases so you can start sounding like, and connect with Italian locals. This guide to slang will take your Italian learning to the next level.

Free guide to Italian slang.

More FAQs

Here are some more phrases you might find useful… Even just to better understand everyday conversation.

How do you say “how are you” informally in Italian?

ItalianPronunciationEnglish meaning
Come va?coh-meh vahHow’s it going?
Come va la vita?coh-meh vah lah vee-tahHow’s life?
Come te la passi?coh-meh teh lah pah-seeHow do you do?
Com’è?coh-mèhHow are things?
Cosa mi racconti?coh-sah mee rah-con-teeWhat’s up?
Che si dice?keh see dee-chehWhat’s up?
Come butta?coh-meh boo-tahWhat’s up?
Tutto a posto?too-to ah poh-stohEverything alright?

What is some Italian slang for dating?

WordPronunciationEnglish meaning
un figo / una figaOon fee-goh / oonah fee-gahA hot guy / girl
una gnoccaOoh-nah ñoh-kahA beautiful girl
limonarelee-moh-nah-rehTo give a French kiss
trombaretrom-bah-rehTo have sex
scoparescoh-pah-rehTo have sex
snobbaresnob-bah-rehTo snob someone
ghostaregos-tah-rehTo ghost someone
lovvarelov-vah-rehTo love
amo’ah-mohShort for “amore”: like calling someone ‘love’
inciucioeen-choo-chohAffair / secret involvement
traminotrah-mee-nohRelationship / secret involvement
fare le cornafah-reh leh cor-nahTo cheat on someone

What are some other fun general Italian expressions?

Cavoli!

Funnily enough, we have a lot of Italian expressions that have to do with cabbages… Cavoli!

SlangPronunciationEnglish meaning
Cavolo / cavoli!cah-voh-lohCrap!
Cavoli mieicah-voh-lee mee-eh-yMy own business
Col cavolo!cohl cah-voh-lohNo way!
cavoli amaricah-vo-lee ah-mah-reeProblems
del cavolodell cah-voh-lohNot good
come il cavolo a merendacoh-meh eel cah-voh-loh ah meh-rehn-dahNot related at all
un cavolooon cah-voh-lohNothing
incavolarsieen-cah-voh-lahr-seeTo get angry

Slang for telling someone to sod off without being too rude

Well, hopefully you won’t need to use these. But they are always useful!

SlangPronunciationEnglish meaning
Vai a quel paese!vah-y ah kweh-l pah-eh-sehBugger off (Literally: Go to that country)
Vai a farti friggere!vah-y ah far-tee free-jeh-rehBugger off (Literally: Go get fried)
Vai a farti benedire!vah-y ah far-tee beh-neh-dee-rehBugger off (Literally: Go get blessed)
Chissenefrega!kees-seh-neh-freh-gahWho cares!
Stammi giù di dosso!Stah-mee joo dee doh-sohLeave me alone!
Mollami!moh-lah-meeLeave me alone!
Fatti i cavoli tuoi!fah-tee ee cah-voh-lee too-oh-eeMind your own business!
Rimbambito!reem-bahm-bee-tohStupid!

Fun hacks for learning Italian colloquialisms

Well, one of our best tips to learn them is to get out there and learn slang as it is meant to be learned – on the streets.

Woman meeting people to learn Italian colloquialisms.

Talk to people!

This doesn’t mean you have to move to Napoli and start hanging out in sketchy neighborhoods, of course, but just try to talk to Italian native speakers as much as you can.

Languages are alive, they change and evolve constantly, and slang does too. The best way to learn it is to get away (for a while) from books, phones and computers, and talk to real people.

And most of all, don’t be afraid of asking questions, making mistakes or not knowing a word!

Make a list

Whenever you hear a phrase that you like (or perhaps don’t understand), write it down in a list. You can then practice using it in sentences or ask for an explanation whenever the occasion arises.

As you probably know, making lists is always a great way of remembering new vocab, so why not do it with casual and informal words as well?

Read blogs, watch videos, follow influencers

Yes, we know we just told you to get out and speak to real people… And it still might be the best way of learning conversational and colloquial Italian. But it’s not always easy (or even possible at all) to do it, right?

So, if you have no way of talking to Italian native speakers in person, use the magic that is the internet! You can follow Italian influencers on Instagram and watch their stories, read Italian personal blogs and posts, watch ‘homemade’ Italian YouTube videos about interesting topics.

So, try to have contact with ‘real people’, even if over the internet. Real people use real language, and real language is full of slang!

Now, get out and practice!

We hope that knowing some slang words will help you understand Italian conversation, whether in-person or while you watch Italian movies.

All that’s left for you to do now is to go out and practice where slang belongs, in real life! Additionally, you can round up your learning by acquainting yourself with the many ways you can greet someone in Italian, casually or formally.

In bocca al lupo!

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