Introduction to Italian Slang
If you’re planning to live or travel in Italy, you might find it helpful to know what people are saying – much of which is not in polite phrasebooks! And sometimes it helps to be able to fire a few juicy phrases of your own. Select a letter above to go to the page of Italian swearwords starting with that letter.
- Subject to revision whenever the mood strikes me. If you have something you’d like to add or suggest or comment on, go here (where you can also see what others have suggested).
- Most of this usage is not for polite company. For milder slang and idiom, see this page.
- I live(d) in northern Italy, so the usage described here may be specific to northern Italy, particularly Milan and Lombardy, unless otherwise noted. Your mileage may vary. I left Italy in 2008, so my usage here may not be up to date, though some of these words and phrases are… timeless.
- Here’s a video of some common Italian hand gestures (many of them rude, along with pronunciation of some of the phrases below).
- Giovanna & Angiolino: a pop song (yes, it’s relevant)
A Note on Blasphemy
Some of these words and phrases fall into the category of bestemmie (blasphemy): taking the Lord’s (or Jesus’ or Mary’s) name in vain. Be aware that these may be considered particularly offensive by some people.
Other rude words are simply called parolacce – “bad words.”