Vocabulary of the HUMAN BODY (parts & organs) in Italian (+ idioms)

In the following lesson we are going to study the Italian vocabulary of human body, by learning the terms that are related to body parts, including the organs, in order to be always ready for nearly every situations (such as the medical emergencies). We are going to to see some Italian idiomatic expressions that are related to the human body!

The human body parts in Italian

The first part we’re going to talk about is:

 Testa (Head)

which consists of:

  • Capelli (Hair)
  • Fronte (Forehead)
  • Occhi (Eyes)
  • Naso (Nose)
  • Guancia (Cheek)
  • Sopracciglia (Eyebrow)
  • Ciglia (Eyelash)
  • Orecchi (Ears)
  • Bocca (Mouth)
  • Mento (Chin)
  • Denti (Teeth)
  • Gengive (Gums)
  • Barba (Beard)
  • Baffi (Mustaches)
  • Lingua (Tongue)

Further down we find the:

Busto (Torso)

which includes the:

  • la gola (throat)
  • il collo (neck)
  • le spalle (shoulders)
  • il petto (chest) (women have “il seno” (bosom), vulgarly known as “tette” (breasts/tits))

Attached to the torso, are the:

Braccia (Arms)

including the:

  • il gomito (elbow)
  • il polso (wrist)
  • la mano (hand)

The hand is composed of:

Dita (Fingers)

that are:

  • Pollice (Thumb)
  • Indice (Index finger)
  • Medio (Middle finger)
  • Anulare (Ring finger)
  • Mignolo (Little finger)

On the fingers there are the unghie (nails), while the inside of the hand takes the name of palmo(palm)

At the center of the body we find l’addome (the abdomen) (commonly known as “pancia” (belly)) and l’ombelico (navel).

Further down we have l’anca (hip) and the pene (penis) (for men) or the vagina (for women).

In the lower part of the body we find the:

Gambe (Legs)


  • la coscia (thigh)
  • il ginocchio (knee)
  • la caviglia (ankle)
  • il piede (foot)

There are also the:

Dita (dei Piedi) (Toes)

that are:

  • Alluce (Hallux)
  • Melluce o Illice (Long toe)
  • Trillice (Middlle toe)
  • Pondolo (Fore toe)
  • Minolo o Mellino (Little toe)

Even toes have unghie (nails). The inside of the foot takes the name of pianta (sole of the foot) while its most extreme part takes the name of tallone (heel)

Note: Italians use the  formula “tallone di Achille” (Achille’s heel) to refer to someone (or something)’s weakness.
This expression comes from the Greek myth according to which Achille, as a child, would be dipped in the waters of the River Styx by his mother Teti, in order to make him invulnerable. However, Achille’s mother dipped him by holding him by the heel, thus making it the only vulnerable part.

The back of the body includes the:

  • nuca (back of the head)
  • la schiena (back)
  • il sedere (bottom) (vulgarly known as “culo” (butt)).

Now, let’s see the:

Organi (Organ)

  • il cervello (brain)
  • la trachea (windpipe), whose the primary function is to allow airflow from the external environment to the lungs, humidifying and cleaning it up
  • il cuore (heart), that is the engine of the circulatory system
  • i polmoni (lungs) that are responsible for breathing
  • l’intestino (intestine), that is where food passes by
  •  i reni (kidney) that filter the waste products of the body, by expelling them via the urine
  • il fegato (liver), that carries out a series of processes, including the removal of toxic substances from the blood
  • il pancreas, that is mainly involved in the regulation of the blood glucose level

Now we’re going to show you some idiomatic expressions involving a a part of the human body that are used a lot by Italians:

1) Con il cuore in mano (With a heavy heart)

This expression is used to emphasize sincerity and honesty in what we say or do.

Example: “Rocco, te lo chiedo con il cuore in mano, smettila di mangiare tutte quelle patatine fritte e maionese! Ti fa male!” (Rocco, I’m asking you with a heavy heart, please stop eating all those fried chips with mayonnaise! It’s bad for your health!)

2) Con le mani nel sacco (To catch someone red-handed)

This expression is used when we see someone while they’re committing an offence or an unallowed action, catching in the act.

Example: “Ti ho beccato con le mani nel sacco! Restituiscimi il portafoglio!” (I just caught you red-handed! Give me back my wallet!)

3) Dare un dito e prendersi il braccio (Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile)

This expression means “taking advantage of someone’s availability and/or generosity”.

Example: “-Non voglio aiutare Marcello con il suo progetto; l’ultima volta mi fece fare tutto il lavoro! -Già, Marcello è fatto così: gli dai un dito e si prende il braccio” (-I don’t want to help Marcello with his project; last time he made me do all the work! -Yeah, that’s how he is: give him an inch and he’ll take a mile).


4) Metterci la mano sul fuoco (To bet on it)

This expression is used to indicate something that is assured and certain.

Example: “-Sei sicuro di quello che dici? -Certo! Ci metterei la ano sul fuoco!” (-Are you sure what you’re saying? -Sure! I’m willing to bet on it!)


5) Costare un occhio della testa (To cost an arm and a leg)

This expression is used when we refer to something that’s extremely expensive.

Example: “Il tuo nuovo televisore è davvero bello! Deve esserti costato un occhio della testa!” (Your new TV-set is awesome! It must have cost you an arm and a leg!)

6) Ficcare il naso (To stick the nose in/ Snooping around)

This expression means “to get involved in other people’s business”.

Example: “Ho scoperto che hai letto il mio diario! Perché ficchi il naso negli affari miei?” (I know you’ve read my diary! Why do you stick your nose in my business?)


7) Essere il braccio destro (di…) (Being someone’s right hand)

This expression is used to refer to someone who represents someone else’s most valuable and most trusted helper.

Example: “Giada mi aiuta in ogni cosa che faccio: è il mio braccio destro!” (Giada helps me in everything I do: she is my right hand).

8) Dire in faccia (Say to the face)

This expression means “to say something clearly and directly”.

Example: “Filippo è un vero traditore! Quando l’ho incontrato gli ho detto in faccia tutto quello che pensavo di lui!” (Filippo is a real traitor! When I met him, I said to his face everything I thought about him!)

9) Essere culo e camicia (Being thick as thieves)

This expression is used to indicate a familiar relationship between two people.

Example: “Fabio e Felice fanno molti affari insieme: sono culo e camicia!” (Fabio and Felice do a lot of business together: they’re thick as thieves)


10) Mettere il dito nella piaga (Rub it in)

This expression is used when we deal with a delicate or embarrassing matter, when we point out the critical point of a certain situation.

Example: “-Mi raccomando, non parlare a Fernando della sua ex… -Non preoccuparti, non voglio mettere il dito nella piaga!” (-Please don’t talk to him about his ex-girlfriend… -Don’t worry, I don’t want to rub it in!)

Alright, you won’t find any difficulty describing human body in Italian anymore! On the contrary, if you have a little trouble describing someone’s character or personality, then don’t miss our video devoted to the adjectives that are used to describe someone’s personality! Don’t miss it: it’s very interesting but also useful if you want to improve your description skills.

In addition, if you want to book private lessons with us, you can use Italki!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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