Out of all the useful expressions, “HO FAME” (I’m hungry) is one of the most simple and direct ones to express the desire or need to eat something: if I say “I’m hungry”, the message can hardly be misunderstood! However, the Italian language has the characteristic of having many analogous expressions, meaning that they express the same concept but with different nuances – if you want to become fluent, it is only good that you know and learn them… not to be repetitive! So, in this article I decided to show you 10 alternative expressions to say “ho fame”!


Just like other needs and emotions, hunger too has different nuances and degrees of intensity, and the Italian language has very good alternatives to the simple “ho fame”… are you ready to discover them together?

1 – “SONO AFFAMATO/A” (I am hungry)

This is the most basic expression. It’s the most common alternative and it has the exact same meaning as “ho fame“.


Non mangio da ieri sera, sono davvero affamata.

(“I haven’t eaten anything since last night, I’m really hungry“.)

2 – “HO BISOGNO DI MANGIARE” (I need to eat)

This is another extremely clear and simple expression: by using ho bisogno di mangiare, you’re expressing hunger in a very direct way, without beating around the bush or using metaphors.


Ho bisogno di mangiare, altrimenti non riesco a concentrarmi come dovrei.

(“I need to eat, otherwise I can’t concentrate as I should”.)

(I’m a little peckish)

In this case, the nuance of meaning causes the sense to deviate slightly from the basic “I am hungry”: avere un languorino doesn’t mean “being hungry” but having a desire for something that stimulates the appetite and that does not satisfy a real sense of hunger. This expression can also be used when the sight of a tempting dish makes us want to taste it.

Example for the first case – wanting to eat something delicious, without completely satisfying hunger:

Ho un certo languorino: ti va un aperitivo in centro?

(“I’m a little peckish… do you want to go downtown for an aperitivo*?”)

Example for the second case – wanting to taste some food we have right in front of us:

Cos’è questo piatto che hai preparato? Sembra delizioso, che languorino!

(“Whats is this dish you have prepared? It looks delicious… now I’m a little peckish!”

* Aperitif is an alcoholic beverage you drink before a meal, but Italian aperitivos usually include some food (appetizers) too

4 – “HO LA PANCIA VUOTA” (I have an empty belly)

Avere la pancia vuota means fasting, not having eaten and, consequently, it’s used to communicate hunger. It’s used mostly in informal contexts.


Ho la pancia vuota, cosa c’è in frigo? Voglio prepararmi qualcosa!

(“I have an empty belly… what’s in the fridge? I want to prepare something!”)

5 – “HO UN BUCO ALLO STOMACO” (I am very hungry)

There is no proper translation for this expression: in Italian, it literally means “I have a hole/pit in my stomach“, which in English is used to describe a strong feeling of nervousness or excitement. In Italian, it means something completely different: its meaning is very similar to meaning of the previous expression, and it refers to a stomach that is empty, a stomach that has not been filled and so it has a metaphorical hole” in it!


Dopo questo lungo viaggio avrai sicuramente un buco allo stomaco! Posso offrirti qualcosa da mangiare?

(“After a long trip like this, you must be very hungry! Can I offer you something to eat?”)

6 – “HO LO STOMACO CHE BRONTOLA”, or “MI BRONTOLA LO STOMACO” (My stomach’s growling/rumbling)

Everybody knows it: when you’re hungry, your stomach tends to make some strange noises – the products of the gastric and intestinal activity- which can be very loud and clearly audible! It’s an actual signal our bodies send us when the hunger is impossible to ignore.


Che imbarazzo, durante il convegno avevo lo stomaco che brontolava! Sicuramente chi era seduto vicino a me lo ha sentito!

(“I’m so embarrassed… during the conference, my stomach was growling/rumbling! I’m sure the people sitting near me heard it!”)

7- “STO MORENDO DI FAME” (I’m starving)

This expression is used mostly with relative and friends, people we are close to. Therefore, it belongs to the informal register, and it’s used to convey a very strong sense of hunger. It obviously consists of an exaggeration which puts emphasis on the urge to eat something.


Quanto ancora dobbiamo aspettare? È ora di pranzo e voglio andare a casa, sto morendo di fame!
(“How much longer do we have to wait? It’s lunchtime and I want to go home… I’m starving!”)

8 – “SVENGO DALLA FAME”, lit. “I’m about to faint from hunger”

Like one of the previous expressions, this one doesn’t have an exact translation either: it literally means “I’m about to faint/I will faint from hunger”. It refers to the fact that when you’re really hungry, you risk that your blood sugar level drops so much so that you faint.


Guarda, lì c’è un ristorante! Andiamoci subito, sto svenendo dalla fame.
(“Look, there’s a restaurant there! Let’s go right now, I’m about to faint from hunger.”)

9 – “NON CI VEDO PIÙ DALLA FAME” (I’m starving)

Yet again, this Italian expression has no equivalent in English: it conveys a hunger that is much stronger than normal, and it roughly means “I’m so hungry I can’t see” – another hyperbole to stress the immense hunger. Basically, it refers to when hunger can lead to a blurred vision, or a loss of vision. Like most of these expressions, it can only be used in an informal context.


Dopo otto ore di lavoro senza neanche una pausa, non ci vedo più dalla fame! Non vedo l’ora di andare a casa e preparare una deliziosa carbonara!

(“After eight hours of work without a pause, I’m starving! I can’t wait to get home and prepare some delicious carbonara!”)

10 – “HO UNA FAME DA LUPI” (I’m starving/I’m famished)

This informal expression literally means I’m as hungry as a wolf” and it refers to an unbearable sense of hunger that can only be compared to the hunger wolves feel – after all, in our collective imaginationwolves are the voracious animals par excellence.


Ho una fame da lupi, dove posso trovare una buona pizza qui?

(“I’m starving, where can I find a good pizza here?”)

Well, this article ends here! Did you already know these expressions? If so, which ones? Let us know in the comments below! If you are studying Italian and you want to know more food-related vocabulary, I suggest you read our article in which you’ll find 13 Italian expressions with food!

And don’t forget to read our book Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni!

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