Italian SMS-Speak

“Texting” – sending text messages via cellphone – has been popular in Italy far longer than in the US, in part because it’s cheaper than calling. When I can’t reach someone by email, I use SMS for non-urgent communications – it’s less intrusive than a call, and I have a phobia of disturbing people.

Italian kids in particular text a lot, though many have now moved on to instant messaging on their computers. They’ve developed a shorthand which is useful for both; I give some examples here (and will expand on them as I run into new ones, particularly with illustrations).

The graffito on the side of the building pictured above reads: Cecy TV1MDB… Fabio.

TVB – ti voglio bene – “I love you” – predates cellphones; I remember my daughter and her middle school friends scribbling it on each others’ school diaries and backpacks. (The advertising applications for TVBLOB are instantly apparent.)

The graffito above is another variant: 1 is (obviously) uno, the number one, but it’s also the article “a” or “an”. So this reads: Ti voglio un mondo di bene – “I desire for you a world of good,” or “I love you a lot.”

Cecy, BTW, pronounced CHAY-chee, is a nickname for Cecilia [cheh-CHEE-lee-ah].

+ is of course the mathematical plus sign, pronounced piu’ [PYOO]. But piu’ also means “more”. So the ugly sentiment expressed above is “more cops dead.”

At the bottom right is the VV symbol meaning “hurray for!”figa (cunt). (A rather pleasanter sentiment.)

Other Abbreviations

(For which I don’t yet have photos.)

6 – sei means “six” or “you are”.

cmq – comunque – anyway

k – The letter k is pronounced kappa in Italian (the name is Greek because k is not actually part of the Italian alphabet). But Italian kids, knowing that in English it’s pronounced [kay], use it as shorthand for -che, a common Italian syllable.

x – This is not the letter x, but the multiplication symbol, called per in Italian. The word per is also a preposition meaning “for”, and, again, a frequently-used syllable in Italian.

So: xk = perché – “why?” – a savings of four letters when entering text!

what are some more Italian SMS abbreviations I’m missing?


  1. Esempi di messaggi:

    – ma k cosa vuoi? se t chiamo stas c6?
    – ho fin i soldi nel cel. risp sul mio.

  2. You miss one of the most annoying to me: “nn” for “non” (don’t / not). Gee, it’s just one letter saving, still it’s widely used (on IM at least).

  3. TVTB
    MY R8

    Questo vuol dire: Ti voglio tanto bene perche’ sei una figa, pero’ mi rotto??
    Giusto? Correggi me se l’ho forato !!:)

  4. sn = sono = I am / they are

    c = ci = there (in sentences like “there is” / “there are”


    Io nn c sn, tu c6? = Io non ci sono, tu ci sei? = I’m not there, are you there?

  5. Hi there I am not an italian speaker but i just receive a SMS from a girl who i met. the SMS was “TA” what is that mean, please help.

  6. @Luiz – well, if the girl was English, she probably meant “Thank You”. “Ta” is a very common way of saying thank you in England.

  7. At first I thought ti Amo, but Italians don’t say that. They say TVB instead. So I suspect “Ta/Thanks” was correct.

    How in heaven’s name does the zero in 610 become figa? Is “zero” a good thing?

  8. “How in heaven’s name does the zero in 610 become figa?” I guess a c**t is a “hole” or zero – ??

  9. OK, I have a question for you. i have an Italian friend who has texted me YDEM . What on earth does this mean? He speaks no English, so he says.

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