The word “TIPO” in Ialian: What does it mean? How do you use it? All the Meanings and Uses!

Did you ever notice that Italians often use the word “tipo”? In this video I want to show you all the uses and meanings that this Italian word has! Are you ready to study?

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All the types of “tipo” and how to use them

La The word “tipo” comes from the Latin typus which stems from the Greek τύπος (tùpos), meaning “mark”, but also “character”, “shape” and “model”. Nowdays with these meanings “tipo” is still used in the discipline that studies coins to talk about the image carved and impressed on it.

In the art of printing, on the other hand, the word “tipo” refers to each of the movable types used to print every letter and symbol.

 But in the standard Italian language, other than these meanings belonging to very specific fields, the word “tipo” can take on many different meanings. Let’s take a look at some of them:

An example for everyone

  1. Il The most common meaning of the word “tipo” (type) is “model” or “specimen” which identifies the exinstence of multiple objects with similar common characteristics that group them together distinguishing them from other objects. For example, we could talk about a type of double bed, a type of TV or a type of shoes and so on. So we could have several pairs of shoes of the same type (like sport shoes) or two cars of the same type (SUV, 4×4, utilitarian and so on).
  2. Another meaning of “type”, similar to the first one but not quite the same, is that of “scheme, ideal model to use as an abstract base for several objects with common features”. But here the key words are “ideals” and “abstract”. For example, I could ask a girl what’s her ideal type of boyfriend, or her ideal type of house, job and so on. And then she would describe them as she imagines them, or how they could be in the best possible scenario.
  3. By extension, the word “tipo” is often used in phrases like “del tipo di” (of the same type) or “sul tipo di” (similar to this type of) to connect an object to a certain group well represented by another object. For example, in a clothes store we could ask if they have a blouse of the same type as the one we are wearing.
  4. Furthermore, in everyday use the word “tipo” is used (and sometimes overused) with the meaning of  “like” or “such as”, in phrases such as:

Il mio capo si è arrabbiato un sacco di volte questa settimana, tipo ieri quando sono arrivato tardi al lavoro, o anche martedì quando ho consegnato il progetto sbagliato. → My boss got angry so many times this week, like yesterday, when I arrived at work late, Tuesday when I handed over the wrong project.

Ieri ho comprato un paio di jeans stupendi, hai presente tipo quelli neri che metto sempre? Ecco, tipo quelli, ma verde scuro. → Yesterday  I bought some beautiful jeans, you know, like those I always wear? Like them, but in dark green.

Ti giuro, non la sopporto. Continua a parlarmi dei suoi problemi. Tipo ieri siamo andate a prendere un caffè e continuava a lamentarsi che capitano tutte a lei. → I swear, I can’t stand her. She keeps telling me about her problems. Like Yesterday we went out to get some coffee and she kept complaining about how unlucky she is.


Just to give you an idea

  1. Ancora, Also, in many informal contexts we use the word “tipo” right before adjectives or phrases used as adjectives just to emphasize them, kinda like we do with the words “proprio” (just), “davvero” (really). For example, we can say: Ieri sono andata ad una festa tipo stratosferica! → Yestarday I went to a party, like an amazing one! Or Il nostro progetto è stato tipo un successo! Che figata! → Our project has been like, a success! That’s so cool!


Target acquired

  1. Ma But “tipo” is also used, with some minor variations, to talk about a specific person: first of all, if you are talking about “un tipo” (o una tipa) → (a guy or a girl) you are referring to a person  of whom we don’t want to specify any information, maybe because we don’t like him or because we hold a grudge against him, or maybe just because we don’t know him at all. It has a slightly negative connotation: it means that we don’t care that much about this person and don’t want to waste even a second talking about him. —> essere un bel tipo (Ma sei proprio un bel tipo!) → to be a piece of work (you are quite the pice of work!)
    Means “having a peculiar personality” or in the shape of “essere un tipo …” (to be a … guy) + adjective, identifies the main characteristic – in terms of personality – of said person:
    Mio cugino è un tipo tranquillo, legge tanto e non va mai in discoteca. → My cousin is a quiet guy, he reads a lot and never goes to the disco.
    Or again, “(non) essere il tipo di qualcuno” → “(not) being somebody’s type” means “(non) piacere a quella persona” → “(not) being liked by that person”
    Ti piace Giovanni? Mmmh no, non è il mio tipo. → Do you like Giovanni? Mmmh no, he’s not my type.
    Meaning: he is not the guy for me.
  2. Il The diminutive “tipetto” (little fellow) is instead mainly used when talking about children or teens with a very lively disposition and a bit troublesome. For example a kid with a big mouth and not very obedient would be quite the little fellow.
  3. Il The despreciative “tipaccio” (bad guy) istead is used to talk about a disreputable person, someone you should stay away from.

One “tipo” fits all

  1. Lastly, we also use the word “tipo” without a real meaning, as an intercalation in a speech (as always informal) or when we are about to ask someone a question. For example, if I ask someone to tell me about his holyday, that person could tell me: Insomma, bene tipo… Anche se ho preso un virus e sono stato male tipo… Però almeno i miei figli si sono divertiti… → Well, it was fine like… I even got a virus and fell ill like… But at least my kids had fun… Or, to ask somebody a question: Ma tu, tipo, lo perdoneresti un tradimento? → So, like would you forgive her if she cheated on you?

So this “tipo” is a jack of all trades! Of course it’s important to listen a lot, because there are strict rules to understand where you can use it and where not. It’s all a matter of habit and training!

A bit of practice

Let’s take a look together at a short informal dialogue with the wort “tipo” used with its different meanings.

– Hai visto l’ultimo film di Christian De Sica? → Have you seen the last movie featuring Christian De Sica?
– Mmh, può darsi. Quello tipo di Natale? → Mmh, maybe. The one like a christmas movie?
– No, quello tipo thriller, o horror, non lo so. Non l’ho visto ma mi hanno detto che è tipo fighissimo. → No, the one like a Thriller, or an horror move, I’m not sure. I haven’t seen it but I’ve heard it’s like super cool.
– Ma di cosa parla? → But what’s it about?
– Praticamente parla di un tipo che vive da solo in una casa in campagna, e un giorno si sveglia e trova casa sua che è tipo completamente diversa, e non capisce come sia successo. Allora inizia tipo ad impazzire perché non riesce più a fare nulla e non sa dove sono le cose. → Basically it’s about a guy who lives alone in a country house, and one day he wakes up and finds out that it’s like completely different, and has no idea of how it happened. Then he starts like losing it because he can’t do anything anymore and doesn’t know where’s what.
– Ma come fa ad essere horror? Da come lo descrivi mi sembra più tipo un thriller psicologico. → But how is it a horror? the way you talk about it it’s more like a psychological thriller.
– Sì ecco, esatto. Che poi non è neanche un tipo di film che di solito guarderei. Però dalla trama mi ispira un sacco. → Yeah, exactly, just that. Actually it’s not even a type of movie i’d watch. But the plot really catches me.

Come As all of you have probably noticed, the word “tipo” is really everywhere, and if you don’t know how to use it or how to recognize it you risk missing the meaning of the sentence. Try writing down here in the comments some sentences with the word “tipo”, and let’s see if you have learnt how to use it correctly!

Also, if you want to learn more about the word “proprio”, that’s like a relative of “tipo”, don’t waste any time and go watch the video that will explain you everyting you need to know about this word.