Have you ever flipped through an Italian dictionary? It is full of foreign words! In this lesson we’ll analyze some of the most frequently used… Do you know them?
Foreign Words in Italian
The use of foreign words, especially English and French words, is increasingly common in the Italian language.
Here they are some of the most common foreign words in Italian.
T-SHIRT → in Italian we have an equivalent which is “maglietta“, but the English word is used a often as the Italian one.
La t-shirt che indosso oggi è un regalo di Matteo. (The t-shirt I wear today is a present from Matteo)
OUTFIT → this word might be translated in Italian as “il modo in cui sei vestito in un momento specifico“, but, of course, this translation is too long and, as there is no single Italian word translating the English counterpart, Italians often use the English term.
L’outfit di Giada non è adatto a questo luogo! Avrebbe dovuto osare di meno! (Giada’s outfit is not appropriate to this place! She should have dared less)
SOCIAL NETWORK → the Italian equivalent is “reti sociali“, but no one uses the Italian translation!
Viviamo in un’era in cui nessuno può più fare a meno dei social network per comunicare con il mondo intero! (We live in an era in which nobody could stay without social networks to communicate with the whole world!)
DJ → there is no translation for this word, except for “la persona che mette la musica“. Needless to say that Italian people always use the English word.
Domani sera nel locale in centro suona il dj più famoso d’Italia! (Tomorrow evening, in the club in the town centre there will be the most famous Italian dj)
BODYGUARD → in this case, we have an equivalent which is “guardia del corpo“, however, the English word is frequently used.
Le persone importanti hanno almeno un bodyguard personale. (Important people have at least one personal bodyguard)
PASSWORD → in italian there are two equivalents which are “parola chiave” or “codice“, but the English term is by far the most commonly used.
Dimentico sempre tutte le mie password e ogni volta devo crearne di nuove! (I always forget all my passwords and every time I have to create new ones!)
WI-FI → there is an equivalent expression in Italian: “rete senza fili“… But, as often happens with computer-related words, the Italian language prefers to use the original English term.
Non so stare senza Wi-Fi! Adoro vedere video su Internet! (I can’t live without wi-fi! I love watching videos on the Internet!)
TRASH → this word is used in Italian to talk about TV shows that have little or no value at all. “Trash” (also called “tv spazzatura“) includes all those shows which do not offer educational contents and are full of dirty words and arguments among the guests.
Ormai la tv è piena di trash! Preferiamo goderci un bel film al cinema. (By now the TV is full of trash! We prefer enjoying a good film at the cinema!)
MAKE-UP → in Italian people say “trucco“, but the English word is extremely widespread (especially among the youth).
Ho una grande passione per il make-up! Ogni volta che faccio shopping compro almeno un rossetto o un mascara! (I have a great passion for make-up! Every time I go shopping I buy at least one lipstick or mascara!)
ALL INCLUSIVE → you can use the Italian expression “tutto incluso“, but it’s less common than the English one. “All inclusive” is often used by phone companies, hotels, etc.
Ho attivato una fantastica offerta all inclusive! Ora ho messaggi e minuti di chiamate illimitati e anche molti giga per navigare liberamente su Internet! (I activated a great offer all inclusive! Now I have limitless messages and minutes and even many giga to surf on the Internet!)
MUST-HAVE → there is no equivalent in Italian, however, if you really want to avoid the English expression, you can say “qualcosa da avere a tutti i costi“.
I must-have della moda di questa stagione includono un capo di colore rosso. (The fashion must-have of this season include one red item)
BOUTIQUE → this French word acquired in Italian a new nuance which is equivalent to “negozio di lusso“, so it’s not a simple clothing store, but one in which you can buy designer clothes!
Hanno aperto una nuova boutique in centro che vende capi davvero esclusivi! Non vedo l’ora di andarci! (They opened a new boutique in the town centre that sells really exclusive items! I can’t wait to go there!)
CHIC → you could translate this French word as “elegante“, but, to be precise, this Italian word usually refers to suit and tie or a evening dress. Therefore, Italians tend to use the French word “chic” to describe a nice and fashionable outfit, not necessarily associated with a suit and tie or evening dress.
Trovo che Lucrezia sia una ragazza molto chic! Mi piacciono molto i suoi vestitini! (I think Lucrezia is a very elegant girl! I love her dresses!)
TOILETTE → the Italian equivalent is “bagno“, however, when Italians are in a restaurant or bar, they prefer to use the French word “toilette” because sounds more “nice” and “elegant”.
Mi scusi, potrebbe indicarmi dov’è la toilette? (Excuse me, could you please tell me where the toilet is?)
BIDET → people in Italy use this French word to talk about something that French people do not have! It is the tool used to wash your private area… No Italian equivalent is available in this case.
Si consiglia di fare un bidet due volte al giorno. (It is better to have a bidet twice a day)
BAGUETTE → in Italian people use the word “panino” to refer to any kind of bread regardless of its shape, however, the word “baguette” is used to talk about a particular kind of “bread”: that is, a stretched-shaped bread, which Italians also call “filone“ o “filoncino“, although the French word is more common.
Questa baguette con prosciutto e formaggio è davvero deliziosa! Ne prendo un’altra. (This baguette with ham and cheese is really delicious! I’ll have another one)
CHAPEAU! → the Italian equivalent is the expression “tanto di cappello!“. Both expressions are used to express admiration for something that someone has done.
Chapeau! Avevi ragione tu! La partita di oggi è finita con un pareggio. (Chapeau! You were right! Today match ended in a draw)
SAVOIR FAIRE → Italians use this French expression or the Italian equivalent “saperci fare” to describe a person who is able to impress other people and knows has to stand out.
Con il suo savoir faire, Marco ottiene sempre tutto quello che vuole! Quanto lo invidio… (With his manners, Marco always get what he wants! I envy him so much…)
DÉJÀ VU → Italians might translate this French expression as “qualcosa che mi sembra già vissuta, già vista“, but obviously the French expression is more common probably due to the fact that it is shorter.
Sei sicuro che non abbiamo già parlato di questo argomento? Mi sembra un déjà vu! (Are you sure we haven’t already talked about this topic? It seems a déjà vu to me!)
Foreign words do not have a plural form in Italian!
s (Italians say “i bodyguard”)
Don’t miss our lesson about the 5 most common mistakes made by students of Italian!
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!