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

Word Pronunciation English meaning
boh boh I don’t know
figo fee-goh Cool
dai dah-eeh Come on
magari mah-gah-ree I wish / perhaps
tranqui trahn-kwee Short for “tranquillo/a”, calm, tranquil. Meaning “don’t worry”.
sciallo shah-loh Calm, relaxed
sciallarsi shahl-lahr-see To relax
mitico mee-tee-coh Great
una cifra ooh-nah chee-frah A lot
un botto oon boh-toh A lot
figurati fee-goo-rah-tee Don’t mention it
una paglia / una paia ooh-nah pah-lliah A cigarette
fes fehs Only in Lombardy: a lot
coatto coh-ah-toh In Rome: rough
bordello bohr-dell-oh Mess
ferro feh-roh Gun
sfigato sfee-gah-toh Loser
sbirro sbee-roh Cop

Italian slang phrases

Positive phrases

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

Phrase Pronunciation English meaning
Che figata! keh fee-gah-tah How cool!
essere in canna eh-seh-reh een cah-nah To be full of energy
essere gasato eh-seh-reh gah-sah-toh To be excited
meno male! meh-noh mah-leh How lucky!
Bella lì! bell-lah lee Sweet!
Bella storia! bell-lah stoh-ryah Way to go! / Cool!
Che top! keh top Super
avoglia ah-voh-lya Sure / of course / yes
a fagiolo ah fah-joh-loh Just right
bon / va bon bon / vah bon Ok
amouninn’ ah-moo-neenn In Sicily: “Let’s go”
‘ndom ndom In Northern Italy: “Let’s go”
fare un after fah-reh oon ah-ftehr To stay up until the morning
sbronzarsi sbrohn-dzar-see To get drunk
cazzeggiare cats-eh-jah-reh To do nothing / waste time
spaccare spah-kah-reh To be cool
avere culo ah-veh-reh coo-loh To 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!

Phrase Pronunciation English meaning
Che palle! keh pah-leh How annoying!
avere le palle girate ah-veh-reh leh pah-leh jee-rah-teh To be annoyed / angry
sclerare scleh-rah-reh To go wild
sbroccare sbroh-kah-reh To go wild
svalvolare svahl-voh-lah-reh To go wild
gufare goo-fah-reh To bring bad luck
farsi le pare far-see leh pah-reh To get paranoid
Che schifo! keh skee-foh Disgusting!
Fa cagare! fah cah-gah-reh It’s disgusting (literally: It makes you poo)
Che menata! keh meh-nah-tah What a drag!
stare addosso stah-reh ah-doss-soh To badger someone
Ci fai o ci sei? chee fah-y oh chee-seh-y Are you stupid or what?
essere fuori eh-seh-reh foo-oh-ree To be wild (lit. to be out)
fuori come un balcone foo-oh-ree coh-meh oon bahl-coh-neh Wild (lit. out as a balcony)
Non esiste! non eh-see-steh No way!
non me ne frega niente non meh neh freh-gah nee-ehn-teh I don’t care at all
tirare un bidone / bidonare tee-rah-reh oon bee-doh-neh / bee-doh-nah-reh To stand someone up
intortare een-tohr-tah-reh Northern Italy: to fool someone
palloso pahl-loh-soh Boring
toppare top-pah-reh To make a mistake
essere scazzato eh-seh-reh ska-tsah-toh To not be in the mood for anything
incazzarsi een-cah-tsar-see To get angry
essere pesante eh-seh-reh peh-sahn-teh To be heavy / oppressive
avere il muso Ah-veh-reh eel moo-soh To be in a bad mood / sulking
rompipalle rom-pee pahl-leh An 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 slang Italian pronunciation English meaning
bannare bah-nah-reh To ban
taggare tahg-gah-reh To tag
killare keel-lah-re To kill
chattare chah-tah-reh To chat
stalkerare stol-keh-rah-reh To stalk
whatsappare woh-tsah-pah-re To WhatsApp
trollare troh-lah-re To troll
nerd nehrd Nerd
googleare goo-goh-lah-reh To 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.

Italian Pronunciation English meaning
La grana lah grah-nah Money
Il grano eel grah-noh Money
La pila lah pee-lah Money
Le palanche leh pah-lahn-keh Money
Un deca oon de-ka 10 Euros
Un ventino oon ven-ti-no 20 Euros
Un cinquantino oon chin-kwan-ti-no 50 Euros
Una centa oo-nah chen-tah 100 Euros
Costare un botto cos-tah-reh oon bot-toh To 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.

Word Pronunciation English meaning
vecchio / vecchia veh-kyo / veh-kya Friend
vecio / vecia veh-choh / veh-cha Friend
socio soh-choh Friend
bro broh Brother
raga’ rah-gah Rome: Guys
compa com-pah Company
guaglió wa-lyoh Southern Italy: Guy
gnaro nyah-roh Northern Italy: Guy
pivello pee-vehl-loh Inexperienced kid
bocia boh-cha Kid
friendzonare fren-dzoh-nah-reh To friendzone
beccarsi beh-car-see To meet up
fare bordello fah-re bohr-dell-loh To make a mess / party
drinkare dreen-kah-reh To 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?

Italian Pronunciation English meaning
Come va? coh-meh vah How’s it going?
Come va la vita? coh-meh vah lah vee-tah How’s life?
Come te la passi? coh-meh teh lah pah-see How do you do?
Com’è? coh-mèh How are things?
Cosa mi racconti? coh-sah mee rah-con-tee What’s up?
Che si dice? keh see dee-cheh What’s up?
Come butta? coh-meh boo-tah What’s up?
Tutto a posto? too-to ah poh-stoh Everything alright?

What is some Italian slang for dating?

Word Pronunciation English meaning
un figo / una figa Oon fee-goh / oonah fee-gah A hot guy / girl
una gnocca Ooh-nah ñoh-kah A beautiful girl
limonare lee-moh-nah-reh To give a French kiss
trombare trom-bah-reh To have sex
scopare scoh-pah-reh To have sex
snobbare snob-bah-reh To snob someone
ghostare gos-tah-reh To ghost someone
lovvare lov-vah-reh To love
amo’ ah-moh Short for “amore”: like calling someone ‘love’
inciucio een-choo-choh Affair / secret involvement
tramino trah-mee-noh Relationship / secret involvement
fare le corna fah-reh leh cor-nah To cheat on someone

What are some other fun general Italian expressions?


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

Slang Pronunciation English meaning
Cavolo / cavoli! cah-voh-loh Crap!
Cavoli miei cah-voh-lee mee-eh-y My own business
Col cavolo! cohl cah-voh-loh No way!
cavoli amari cah-vo-lee ah-mah-ree Problems
del cavolo dell cah-voh-loh Not good
come il cavolo a merenda coh-meh eel cah-voh-loh ah meh-rehn-dah Not related at all
un cavolo oon cah-voh-loh Nothing
incavolarsi een-cah-voh-lahr-see To 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!

Slang Pronunciation English meaning
Vai a quel paese! vah-y ah kweh-l pah-eh-seh Bugger off (Literally: Go to that country)
Vai a farti friggere! vah-y ah far-tee free-jeh-reh Bugger off (Literally: Go get fried)
Vai a farti benedire! vah-y ah far-tee beh-neh-dee-reh Bugger off (Literally: Go get blessed)
Chissenefrega! kees-seh-neh-freh-gah Who cares!
Stammi giù di dosso! Stah-mee joo dee doh-soh Leave me alone!
Mollami! moh-lah-mee Leave me alone!
Fatti i cavoli tuoi! fah-tee ee cah-voh-lee too-oh-ee Mind your own business!
Rimbambito! reem-bahm-bee-toh Stupid!

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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